By Chris Engelhardt
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined with nonprofit GrowNYC in Long Island City last week to celebrate the return of the neighborhood’s Youthmarket, an event that featured a fresh assortment of fruits and vegetables.
GrowNYC previously operated a Youthmarket at the corner of 48th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City until 2010, when the market was forced to close due to poor sales.
Van Bramer said after nearly three years of working with the nonprofit, the Youthmarket is restored and will provide residents with fresh, healthy and affordable produce to Western Queens.
GrowNYC has partnered with the Long Island City YMCA, which hired local neighborhood teenagers to run the Youthmarket. The goal is to provide teenagers with an understanding of how to run a small business and how to become future entrepreneurs.
“Western Queens residents who visit this Long Island City market now have access to a wide variety of produce at a fraction of the cost they might normally spend on these items elsewhere,” Van Bramer said at the Youthmarket’s opening day July 13. “In addition to increasing access to affordable food options, we are also giving our local youth jobs that will provide them the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and training.”
The Youthmarket will be open at the site Saturdays until Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, cooking demonstrations will take place on days to provide customers with recipes using produce available for purchase.
GrowNYC runs 54 greenmarkets throughout the city, 10 of which are in Queens.
Van Bramer said the return of the Youthmarket is part of an overall effort to expand healthy food options for residents of western Queens. Last year, Van Bramer allocated $10,000 to GrowNYC to launch Queens’ first affordable farm fresh food initiative at the Queensbridge Houses. The program will continue this year and kick off next month.
Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC, said the organization was thrilled to open the Youthmarket in Long Island City, which he called a “bustling community in Queens,” and lauded Van Bramer for supporting the project.
“This program provides the neighborhood with access to fresh, affordable produce, supports our regional farmers and provides valuable job training for area youth — a win for all,” he said.
Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.