Douglaston loses Greenmarket after two years

Photo by Rich Bockmann
By Phil Corso

Members of Community Board 11 have started searching for a new spot to host an annual green market after learning the two-year-old Douglaston location would not return this summer.

Douglas Montgomery, who also serves as president of the Douglaston Garden Club, helped bring the Douglaston GreenMarket to life every summer and early fall Sunday in 2011 at 41st Avenue and 235th Street with help from the community board and GrowNYC, a nonprofit that works to engage residents in environmental and sustainable activities.

But just two years later, the market failed to attract enough vendors to offer things like locally grown vegetables, orchard fruit, artisanal cheese and meats, wild-caught seafood and bread and baked goods, leaving northeast Queens without a market this year.

“It’s tough for everyone who puts their heart and soul into this kind of project,” Montgomery said. “At the end of the day, it has got to be sustainable and you have to have a constituency that supports and gets the vendors their money.”

The CB 11 member said GrowNYC only signed up three vendors for this year’s market in Douglaston, as opposed to eight last year, leading to GrowNYC’s decision to shutter it. The nonprofit said Douglaston’s market was one of its smaller offerings of fresh, locally grown produce, compared to others in areas in Queens like Jackson Heights or Sunnyside with close to 20 vendors.

Montgomery said he would be working to help establish a search committee for a new location that would perhaps attract more foot traffic than the one in Douglaston, which he described as off the beaten path.

“We will find another one,” he said with certainty. “We just have to find a spot that addresses all the needs of the community. Of course, I’d want Douglaston, but we need to have something that is going to last.”

GrowNYC has said it was willing to listen to ideas for other spots in CB 11, which includes neighborhoods in Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Douglas Manor, Little Neck, Hollis Hills and Oakland Gardens. Board Chairman Jerry Iannece also said the nonprofit has approached the Bayside Village Business Improvement District to try and find a spot in the area for a future market.

But not every member of the board was welcoming to the idea of a GreenMarket in the heart of Bayside.

Frank Skala said he would be strongly opposed to a market being established at the Long Island Rail Road station on Bell Boulevard. Nonetheless, Iannece said it would only help the community once a new location is established.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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