By Madina Toure
Plans are underway for an open outdoor market in downtown Flushing.
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is exploring the feasibility of establishing the “Flushing Trading Post,” a weekly outdoor market offering locally grown and produced food and crafts, including organic vegetables from area farmers.
The project has been in the works for the last two to three years, according to John Choe, the chamber’s executive director.
He said that while Flushing is not a food desert compared to other New York City neighborhoods, the chamber still wants to ensure access to additional products and services.
“You can get relatively fresh food in Flushing at a relatively low cost, but what we’re concerned about is that people may not know where their food is coming from,” Choe said. “So if you know that food is coming from a local farmer and the farmer explains how they grew (their) food, how they harvest it and what chemicals are used… that’s a lot more information than what people have now.”
The chamber is looking at several locations and is working with groups such as Green Earth Urban Garden, GrowNYC, Harvest Homes and Just Food to figure out the needs of the neighborhood. The chamber is circulating an online survey to get a sense of what people would look for in an outdoor market.
Although the specifics of the market have not yet been determined, Choe said GrowNYC would likely be the primary manager of the market if the chamber works with the group and that the market would probably take place once a week from late May to early November.
The proposed outdoor market is part of the chamber’s larger goal of developing innovative methods and initiatives to assist Flushing residents.
About five years ago, Choe and others founded the Flushing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a volunteer cooperative of Flushing residents that brings fresh, locally grown, organic produce to the community.
The group has also taken part in the Flushing West redevelopment process, which would clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront and establish a planned community with waterfront access as well as housing and commercial space. The chamber is working to ensure that the land is not only remediated but that the long-term development of Flushing contributes to positive health outcomes for people.
The chamber is working to ensure that the Flushing waterfront is used for recreation as well as more green areas and open spaces, he said.
Ultimately, the chamber’s goal is to shape a more vibrant, sustainable community.
“We’re trying to be a lot more innovative (than) the traditional chamber model that tends to focus a lot more on the social aspect of networking and referrals,” Choe said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour