Lots of food — but no one’s shopping — at the Smorgasburg Greenmarket

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s time for foodies to do some real food shopping.

Since opening in May, Brooklyn Flea’s weekly Smorgasburg has been a hit — but not for the farmers who have set up the greenmarket on the banks of the East River every Saturday.

“Most people are coming to the Smorgasburg to snack and have a good time,” said David Sherman, the greenmarket’s manager. “Not many are coming with canvas bags to do their grocery shopping. It’s hard to compete with a kimchee hot dog.”

There’s certainly something to be said for the instant gratification provided by the rest of Smorgasburg — lobster rolls and spinach pupusas, anyone? — but the greenmarket offers the raw materials, including vegetables from a rooftop in Queens, wine from up near Ithaca, and even ducks from Hudson Valley.

Like the rest of Smorgasburg, greenmarket goods are a bit pricey, but your stomach will appreciate what your wallet can’t: the food is better than anything in a supermarket.

“You can call them both tomatoes, but one is fresh off the vine and full of nutrients and flavor, and the other is shipped from far away,” said Sherman. “It’s not the same.”

To spread the word about the market’s fresh finds, the founders have started a weekly special where a Smorgasburg chef uses a greenmarket ingredient to prepare a dish — like rhubarbs from upstate for rhubarb lemonade, or Hudson Valley eggs for deviled eggs.

Eric Demby, one of the co-founders of Smorgasburg, said that he expects the greenmarket to become more popular as crowds continue to find their way to the empty lot behind the Edge condos at the end of N. Seventh Street.

“It’s like the broccoli or carrots on my 2-year-old’s plate,” said Demby. “It’s not quite as sexy as Korean barbecue. It will take a bit of time for it to take off.”

Williamsburg Waterfront Greenmarket at Smorgasburg (end of N. Seventh St. west of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg), Saturdays, 9 am-5 pm. For info, visit

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Reader Feedback

Griff from Williamsburg says:
What it doesn't make very clear is that there is really only 1 or 2 stalls selling vegetables or fruit. Way way less than the greenmarket on Driggs, which is where most people go.
I agree though, most people are going to snack and chill.
June 30, 2011, 2:04 pm
Rowena Hopkins from Nova Scotia says:
I went on the opening weekend and it was beyond overwhelming with all the long line-ups for Porchetta etc. If I was trying to shop for produce I would not have come back because all of the farmers were shoved in the back with the crazy line-ups between them and me.

I was hoping that they might have reorganized the market to put the farmers at the front (for the people who want to run in, shop and leave with their groceries) and moved the more line-up prone stalls to the back (then if they speed up their service they can be rewarded by being moved further forward).

It's also a market with a an identity crisis. Is it a prepared food market or a farmers' market? If it's the latter, then there needs to be some restructuring. If it's the former, then accept that identity and cut the farmers' loose to sell at markets where they can make money.
July 12, 2011, 12:32 pm

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