Walking the Union Square Greenmarket

One of the contradictions that seem to be inherent in the life of New York is the fact that while the city is in the midst of a building boom, it's also becoming greener. While construction cranes loom menacingly over the many residential towers now in progress, many more items from the natural world seem to spring to life below. The Mayor's Million Trees program, for example, is bringing shade to areas that haven't seen a tree in over a century, like the Lower East Side where pushcarts once hugged the streets. The Parks department does its share in greening the city. These days, the northwest corner of Washington Square Park, behind a fence while undergoing extensive renovation, is beginning to look downright botanical. For Saturdays in August, even Park Avenue has been shut down to motorists and taken over by thousands of cyclists in the Summer Streets program. I had no idea there were that many bicycle owners in New York.

The greening of New York is most in evidence at the Union Square Greenmarket and its stalls of fresh merchandise trucked in by regional farmers and culinary craftspeople. Locals pack the square most days a week to buy fresh produce for their own New York tables, and even visitors make their way through the market to buy a little something. Some merchants become personal favorites, and while I was shopping the market on Saturday I purchased several items based on recommendations of the people near me in line. A woman pointed out the cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies from one area baker, telling me they were always fantastic, while another customer steered me to a particular grower specializing in blueberries.

Lucky me that I live within 15 minutes walking distance of the market. For the past two Saturdays, a soft morning August light has illuminated the bounty of late summer on display there - blueberries, eggplants, peaches, nectarines, heirloom tomatoes, and more, and the beautiful weather has brought out many early shoppers. I see many of my fellow apartment dwellers heading up University Place with their carts, and it's easy to know where they're going.

I'm including a couple of images here to share. I brought home some peaches (a few still with the leaves on), a carton of blueberries, a cinnamon bun, a tiny apple pie, and some carrots. I often buy vegetable and flower plants from a particular grower there, a woman who specializes in heirloom plants. I've gone green at home, too, growing vines of cucumbers on my terrace. I have a fantasy about making the next great New York pickle. I'm going to need a pushcart.

The Union Square Greenmarket is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. See more of the bounty at Flickr WOTBA.

No comments: