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Local Produce for the Ninety-Eight Percent

Thanks in part to City Harvest, a new Greenmarket project is getting more local produce than ever into our city’s diet.

GrowNYC is best known for running the Greenmarkets, where growers sell directly to New Yorkers, sans middleman. But as Executive Director Marcel VanOoyen recently observed, about 98 percent of everything we eat goes through wholesale channels, essential outlets for mid-sized farms that sell by the bin, not the bunch.

Now, thanks to vital funding from the Doris Duke Foundation, as well as the New World Foundation and Deutsche Bank, GrowNYC will facilitate such sales by building a Food Hub. The organization is annexing a portion of a refrigerated warehouse in Long Island City—donated by City Harvest, which operates the facility—as well as trucks to deliver the harvest direct to purchasers’ back doors and loading docks. Some of the produce will supply other GrowNYC initiatives including Youthmarkets and food box programs. Outside clients already include a diverse lineup: hardcore locavores like Great Performances and Gramercy Tavern but also new customers like supermarkets and bodegas that will be able to add spectacularly fresh produce to their shelves. And unlike traditional wholesalers, GrowNYC’s fees will only cover costs, so farmers get a better price for each peck of peaches and case of cauliflower.




Gabrielle Langholtz is the editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. Her background includes many projects at the intersection of gastronomy and ecology: She ran communications for the Greenmarket office, wrote the teacher's guide to Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire, worked on a Catskills vegetable farm, volunteered at The Edible Schoolyard and taught a food systems course at NYU. Now married to the head livestock farmer at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, she has visited dozens of local farms, milked cows and sheep, played midwife to ewes, castrated piglets, tapped sugar maples, foraged ramps, got in the way of swarming bees, helped slaughter turkeys and has planted and picked more varieties of fruits and vegetables than most Americans eat in a lifetime—which admittedly isn’t saying much. While she wants to change the food system one reader/eater at a time, she prefers using carrots to sticks.