Borough green markets offer fresh food all year long

Borough green markets offer fresh food all year long
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

Winter may be the time of year to pack on a few extra pounds of padding to insulate oneself against the polar vortex, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your healthy eating habits into hibernation until the spring.

A handful of green markets across the borough offer fresh food year-round, even in the dead of winter.

“If you go to the supermarket, they still have produce, but it’s imported from outside the area,” said Dr. Marcy Stein-Albert, who helped establish the year-round greenmarket at Queens Hospital Center in Jamaica Hills a few years ago. “We make the case that folks should be buying it in season at the market.”

Fresh foodstuffs like kale, sweet potatoes, beets and celery are grown in hothouses at upstate farms and trucked to the lobby of the hospital’s ambulatory care pavilion every Friday when the market is open to patients, staff and the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“They come from an hour and a half away and they’re picked at the peak of freshness when all the nutrients are there,” the pediatrics doctor said. “It’s great.”

Stein-Albert helped start the market about five years ago as an extension of the pediatric department’s healthy lifestyles program, and she said it offers a great alternative to unhealthy habits, such as those that may be reinforced by seasonal affective disorder.

“The vending machines have, let’s say, questionable choices,” she said.

A pair of the GrowNYC markets whose annual return across the city marks the changing of seasons, are open year-round as well.

Both the Forest Hills greenmarket, at Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue, and the Jackson Heights outpost, at 34th Avenue and 78th Street, are open Sundays and accept food stamps and Women, Infants and Children/Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons.

The market at Forest Hills, in front of the post office, is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features exclusively in the winter beef, pork, chicken and eggs from Haywood’s Fresh farm in Columbia County in the Hudson Valley.

The region’s Ronnybrook Farm Dairy also offers Empire State milk, yogurt, butter and ice cream.

In Jackson Heights, shoppers who turn exclusively into carnivores this time of year can drop in between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. to peruse offerings such as turkeys from DiPaola Turkeys in New Jersey, grass-fed and grain-finished Angus beef from Maple Avenue Farm in central New York and heritage-breed ducks from Hudson Valley Duck Farm in Sullivan County.

Both markets also host composting events where food scraps can be transformed into nutrient-rich soils to be used by parks, conservation groups, community gardeners and street-tree caretakers — once the ground thaws, that is.

For more information on the GrowNYC markets, visit grownyc.org/greenmarket/ourmarkets.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.