Getting farm-fresh products in Long Island City is now easier than ever.
The duo behind Good Neighbor Queens, an artisanal farm-to-grocer food market in the Falchi Building, is aiming to provide Queens residents with a variety of produce, meats and dairy from local farms along with workshops and tastings to educate people about the food they consume.
Katrina Schultz Richter, founder of the Queens County Market and Tonice Sgrignoli from the Queens Harvest Food Co-op, began brainstorming ideas when they realized that the borough did not have a grocery store with the kind of items they wanted to buy.
“We got to know each other by collaborating on those projects and we thought, ‘Why doesn’t Queens have the kind of store where we want to shop?'” Sgrignoli said.
Good Neighbor Queens held its soft opening on Oct. 10 and offers locally sourced, organic produce, a selection of ready-to-eat items such as ham and cheese croissants, specialty items including oils and spices and kitchen items such as dish towels and cookware.
The duo also offers four different subscription food boxes that include options of pastured meat, dairy products, fresh fish and bread. Every item in the food box will be sourced from farms in the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes and from Lancaster Valley.
Sgrignoli, who grew up in Pennsylvania, traveled an unconventional path to eventually end up in the food business. She worked in journalism and advertising for many years before joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) and becoming interested in where her food came from. Though she grew up surrounded by farms, Sgrignoli realized that factory farms did not participate in sustainable practices.
“I think that Americans are used to paying very little for their food and they don’t think a lot about where it comes from but in the past five, even 10 years there’s been a lot more awareness,” Sgrignoli said. “I think people have been waking up to the fact that even though it has the USDA seal of approval … you don’t really know how it was sourced, how it was taken care of.”
Along with the in-store items and subscription food boxes, Sgrignoli and Schultz Richter will offer a number or classes including oyster tasting and shucking, sausage-making classes and canning classes. A live stock farmer will come in to teach people the difference between pastured versus conventional livestock. Since opening the grocery store, the partners have been learning new information about local, organic food and want to share their knowledge with the community.
“We’re not trying to tell anybody where they can eat but we’re sourcing food that we’re proud of and we want people to understand what goes into producing food where you can feel good,” Sgrignoli said.
Classes will start in about two weeks and will hold crowds as small as 10 people and as large as 25. For more information, visit the Good Neighbor Queens website here.