Abingdon Square Food Paradise: A Sequel

By Barry Benepe

THE GREENMARKET HAS A PROGRAM THAT TURNS COMPOSTED SCRAPS INTO RICH GARDEN SOIL: You can bring your fruit, vegetable and plant scraps here every Saturday. Photo by Barry Benepe.

In the January 2018 issue of WestView, I described some of the farmers that came into the city from the surrounding region to set up their products at thte Abingdon Square Greenmarket on Saturdays. An additional farmer, with an outstanding array of farm-made cow cheeses, is Consider Bardwell, founded in 1864 in West Pawlet, Vermont.

The farm truck makes the five-hour trip to New York City throughout the year. At the Abingdon Square Greenmarket, sales are managed by Joel from Crown Heights, Brooklyn who displays an array of extraordinarily flavorful cheeses. These include: Pawlet, Bardon Blue, Danby, Dorset, and Experience. Here at Abingdon Square, we collect a combined aroma of an ammoniated barnyard and a fresh summer day. All of the cheese flavors and textures offer a rich variety of pungency and smokiness, as good to inhale as to taste.

Another great attraction at Greenmarket, which clearly differentiates it from food stores, is that it accepts donations of fruit and vegetable scraps, and used fabrics for the Department of Sanitation’s Compost Project. Greenmarket receives up to 1,300 pounds a week of fruit, vegetable, and plant waste, which is composted into rich garden soil. Since 2011, it has collected over 10 million pounds of such waste from 26 city-wide locations, plus an additional five million pounds of textiles. This has been consistent with the overall environmental policies of GrowNYC, a non-profit organization which runs Greenmarket.

Barry Benepe grew up working his family’s farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He earned a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became an urban planner. In 1976, Benepe co-founded the Greenmarket farmers market program, which he ran for 22 years.

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