By Eleanor A. Miller
NYCity News Service
Tucked into the parking lot of the New Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point is the city’s only wholesale farmers market—and now it’s getting a boost from a $296,000 grant to the Council on the Environment of New York City, which runs farmers markets in all five boroughs.
The council will manage the market, which moved this year from its long-time location near Yankee Stadium, as its latest Greenmarket. All 50 others are retail markets.
The market’s primary customers are small retailers and restaurants, but the public is welcome to purchase there, too.
“The Bronx is underserved when it comes to fresh produce, fish, and meats at affordable prices,” said Rep. Jose Serrano in a news release. “Today’s opening gives those merchants and their customers a new option that will dramatically improve their food choices.”
The “goal is to bring fresh, healthy produce to all New Yorkers, and preserve and protect family farms,” said Marcel Van Ooyen, head of the Council on the Environment.
Speaking before a crowd of representatives from city and state agencies and local businesses, Van Ooyen emphasized that the project was a “win-win,” for both local businesses and for the farmers that sell their produce.
Jack Hoeffner, a farmer from Montgomery, NY, who’s sold his produce at the market for more than 50 years, says he and other farmers have waited years for more government support for their family farms.
“We’re now back into ‘eat local, buy local’; we’re more health-conscious,” Hoeffner said, explaining the benefits to the community.
Eventually, the Council on the Environment aims to make the market year-round and expand its connections with local businesses like restaurants and corner delis, as well as engaging with community or educational programs like Head Start.
But for Mario Bodden, who works for the local advocacy group SoBro, this is just a first step. He’d like to see a retail marketplace that’s more like a grocery store, in a residential, instead of the industrial zone of Hunts Point.
“What we want is not another cooperative, but another retail outlet,” he said.
Bodden says grocery chains usually overlook the South Bronx because they believe there’s no market for their products. But he says that’s not true, and that residents always need to buy food.
The wholesale farmers market is located in the waterfront parking lot of the New Fulton Fish Market at Farragut Avenue and Food Center Drive. It is open weekdays from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., and 2 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
A version of this article appeared in the October issue of The Hunts Point Express.