Larger farmers’ market returning to the Seaport


By Julie Shapiro

A farmers’ market with a dozen purveyors will soon reopen in South Street Seaport, bringing fresh produce, local wine and specialty foods to a grocery-starved neighborhood two days a week.

A smaller version of the market launched last summer but did not get off the ground. The new market will have shorter hours — just Fridays and Saturdays — but it will boast a wider variety of vendors and foods. The market will open May 22 in the former fish market stalls on South St., in the building that currently houses the Bodies exhibit.

“It’ll have a little bit of everything,” said Sara Weeks Dima, the market manager, describing jarred artichokes, mescaline greens, aged steak, fresh fish, Asian chutneys and wine from Long Island, the Finger Lakes and other parts of New York.

Dima envisions the market as comparable in variety to the city’s larger greenmarkets at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza, with enough ingredients to pull together most of a meal. But Dima said it will have fewer restrictions than the greenmarkets and will be able to sell olive oil and packaged foods, along with cured meats and fish from New Jersey (at the city greenmarkets, all food must be sold by the person who produces it, not by larger purveyors).

Prices will be similar to the city’s other greenmarkets, with homemade cheese ravioli costing $6, doughnuts $1, organic lettuces and baby greens running $3 to $6 and four-pack of crab cakes costing $12, Dima said.

The 11 vendors to sign up so far include Valley Shepherd Creamery from Long Valley, N.J., Sang Lee Farms from Peconic, N.Y., Bread Alone from Boiceville, N.Y. and Il Brigante, a restaurant on Front St.

The market is a project of General Growth Properties, the company that runs the Seaport and recently declared bankruptcy.

Janell Vaughan, senior general manager of the Seaport, said the Seaport is a steady revenue source for General Growth and promised that the bankruptcy would not affect the stall market — or any of the events G.G.P. is planning for this summer. She said the market would stay open through Sept. 26.

Learan Kahanov, president of the Seaport Parents Association, was thrilled to hear of the market. “Every weekend we’re trekking somewhere else, to Union Square, to the Tribeca market, to Whole Foods,” he said. “To have something nearby would be a joy.”

Kahanov hopes that if the market is successful, it could expand to several more days a week. He thinks the neighborhood could support a more frequent market, since options for fresh food are severely limited Downtown.

Harold Reed, a Seaport resident and Community Board 1 member, expects the market to attract the neighborhood’s many new residents. Reed, a quasi-vegetarian, is looking forward to picking up organic vegetables.

“I think it’ll be popular,” he said. “It’s a great addition to the neighborhood.”

The market will also feature a local wine stall. Dima is working with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation to bring wine from a different vineyard each week.

Seth Datz, an owner and general manager of Greene Grape on Liberty St., said he wasn’t worried about the market cutting into his wine business. The Greene Grape carries many New York State wines, but local wines aren’t Datz’s biggest seller. Datz said customers tend to prefer international varieties, but he keeps buying and selling local wines because he believes in their quality.

Datz predicted that the local wine stall at the Fulton market will do well, because he said similar stalls at Union Square and other greenmarkets have been successful.

If one wine is particularly successful, Dima said she would speak to local merchants about selling it long-term, an offer Datz appreciates.

“I’m curious to see what they do well with,” Datz said.

Most of the other farmers’ markets in the city are run by an organization called Greenmarket, which has five locations Downtown. Sabine Hrechdakian, special projects and publicity manager for Greenmarket, does not see the new Fulton Stall Market as competition.

“We tend to think that anything that helps farmers is a good thing,” she said.

Michael Hurwitz, Greenmarket’s director, said he considered running a market at the Fulton stalls, but it did not meet his criteria.

After seeing the Fulton market falter last summer, Kahanov said he hopes this summer’s market will be able to sustain itself.

“The neighborhood has to come out to support it otherwise it’s not going to stay,” he said.