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Update: Ridge Greenmarket may wither on vine

The Brooklyn Paper

The Greenmarket that’s about to take root in grocery-starved Bay Ridge won’t survive the winter unless it makes some serious green.

The farmers market will convene every week starting this Saturday in the parking lot of a shuttered Third Avenue Key Food that is slated to become a Walgreens pharmacy — but it will close at the end of the year unless Walgreens allows it to continue or it finds an alternate space and, indeed, if there is a reason for it to continue at all.

“We know that we have a home through December,” Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz told The Brooklyn Paper on Monday. “We’ll see if it’s a success and we’ll ask Walgreens and see if we can stay here longer.”

The Greenmarket must close — or move — in January so that workers can turn the old Key Food at the corner of 95th Street and Third Avenue into the chain pharmacy that is scheduled to open in the spring, said Walgreens District Director Hien Nguyen.

After that, the future is murkier than unfiltered apple cider at a farmers market.

Even though the market will only be in season for three months, local politicians are eager to reap its bounty — especially after the June closure of the Key Food.

“We took the lemons handed to us at the closing of our neighborhood grocery store, and we made lemonade,” said Councilman Vince Gentile.

Many Ridgites are excited to shop at the temporary farmer’s market, which will feature locally grown fruits and vegetables, regional fish, cheeses, grass-fed beef, chicken, rabbit and pork, among other foods, every Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm.

“There is no fresh fruit in the neighborhood,” said eager shopper Fay Fujii, who commutes from 96th Street to Union Square in Manhattan to buy fresh produce at the famed market there. “There is only one store above 86th Street that sells fruit and vegetables.”

This isn’t Bay Ridge’s first attempt to grow a Greenmarket.

In April, Gentile tried to plant a farmers market in the parking lot of the Our Lady of the Angel’s church on Fourth Avenue and 74th Street, but the house of worship chopped down the proposal because it didn’t want to sacrifice its lot.

In the late 1990s, a farmers market withered in Leif Ericson Park, at the corner of 67th Street and Fourth Avenue, because of a lack of customers.

But Greenmarket officials are optimistic that this market will bloom.

“The previous location didn’t have the foot traffic that Third Avenue has,” said Hurwitz.

“We are confident that this is the type of location that could work. It’s a hub, it’s a shopping destination, and it has the existing foot traffic.”

For the market to survive the winter, it must attract customers devoted to locally grown produce — a demographic in Bay Ridge that seems to be on the rise. More than 100 residents have banded together to form a food coop to fill the vegetable void, and a neighborhood CSA is thriving.

Will the growing interest in fresh veggies help the temporary farmer’s market plant permanent roots in Bay Ridge?

Only thyme will tell.

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