I’m madder than a guy who moved to Utopia and quickly learned it didn’t live up to its name over the fact that, for some reason, this city isn’t as friendly as it used to be.
Look, you all know that back when I was a Little Screecher, Brooklyn was a much awesomer place, where people gathered on their stoops on hot summer nights and enjoyed some cold drinks and good conversation.
But something happened around the time the television and the air conditioning were invented, and suddenly people weren’t coming out as much, spending their time with Walter Cronkite and Ed Sullivan instead of the Joneses next door.
(In fact, I think it is all the Joneses’s fault, because they were the first ones to get a television and air conditioning, and it was up to us to keep up with them, but I digress.)
Anyway, I have found a new place to meet with the neighbors and talk about all things Brooklyn — my new local green market!
Look, I don’t need to tell you that these markets are as diverse as the city itself! And they are all over the place to boot! No matter where you are, you can find one of these bustling spaces filled with neighbors, families, office workers, and chefs all shopping side-by-side for the freshest of products. It reminds me of the ol’ Santa Maria stoop on Bath Avenue!
Irregardless of their size, each market is an anchor to its community that provides fresh, locally grown food in a space where neighbors can come together, share recipes, watch a cooking demonstration, take a tour with a chef, and learn about local agriculture.
Now, we all know that Bensonhurst has for years been known as the fresh fruit and vegetable capital of the world, where many customers from other boroughs, especially those visiting their steadfast relatives that won’t move from the neighborhood, come to find those prickly pears, kiwis, apples, and oranges.
And we also know that my lovely wife Sharon had worked for GrowNYC, formerly known as the Council on the Environment of New York City, for 31 years before she retired. So yours truly is very familiar with the Greenmarkets that are now 56 strong in the city and still growing, and the newest one is right here in Bensonhurst. It opened on Sunday, July 8 at Milestone Park, 18th Avenue off 81st Street.
Milestone Park was nice and shady and, in case you’re not familiar with why they call it “Milestone Park,” it’s because 18th Avenue was a major roadway during revolutionary days, and a milestone was set there to indicate how many kilometers it was from City Hall. See, you learn your history by reading my column, too!
There was a cordial crowd gathered in the park on opening day, and they got to hear a young group of musicians play as Councilman Gentile acknowledged visiting dignitaries such as me, Marnie Pavis of Community Board 11, Eileen La Ruffa from St. Finbars parish, Andrew Gounitardis, whose name I may or may not have spelled correctly.
And of course, my boss, Assemblyman William Colton was also on hand to greet his new constituents that will be frequenting this welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Oh, and I got some of my beloved cucumbers there as well!
Now’s the point in the column where I mention a lot of people most of you have never heard of, but they’ll be glad to get their names in the paper.
See, I used the offices of Council on the Environment as my Manhattan base, and Lys McGlaughlin, its executive director, was on the executive board of the Screechers, with Dr. Arline Bronzaft, Dr. Thomas Faye, and Louise Bryant as joint members of the Council’s Noise Abatement Committee. The council was on my mailman’s route and a lot of community service was accomplished from that office. But the Noise Abatement Committee was just a small part of what the council was about. Green Market was major then as it is now, as was Open Space Greening and Plant Lot, and Environmental Education Program, and it was one of the initiators of waste paper management.
The website for the GreenMarket is a simple one: www.grownyc.org/bensonhurstgreenmarket.
Screech at you next week!