Union haul! Vendors upset over city plan to relocate McCarren greenmarket

Union haul! Vendors upset over city plan to relocate McCarren greenmarket
The Brooklyn Paper / Katie Chao

The produce sellers in McCarren Park’s farmers market certainly have green thumbs — but the city says they’ve also got blood on their hands.

The blood of innocent blades of grass, that is.

The Parks Department is planning to uproot the popular Greenmarket from the corner of Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street and plant it on the asphalt of Union Avenue because the farmers’ tents, tables, and customers have turned patches of grass into plots of dirt.

“The grass is in very bad condition over there — very brown and compacted — so we’d like to spruce up that area by re-seeding the park’s entrance,” said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson, who confirmed that his agency is planning to close the block between Bayard and Driggs to traffic to make room for the produce sellers.

“Every other Greenmarket in the city is on a paved area,” he added. “We suggested they relocate to a paved area in the park.”

But many of McCarren Park’s fruit, vegetable, bread, honey, cheese and condiment merchants say the grass won’t be any greener on Union Avenue — and not just because they’ll be located on a paved street.

“I’m very disappointed in the move, because I really feel like we’ve been an instrumental part in creating the vibrant community that is there now,” said Justone Bossert of Red Jacket Orchards, who worried that the welcoming environment would be stifled by the concrete jungle.

“If we’re outside of the park, it would completely disrupt the sort of community atmosphere that has developed where people sit down around us and hang out,” he added. “It would be very unappealing to sit down on asphalt.”

Farmers also said they prefer the current location — which is near bustling Bedford and Manhattan avenues as well as the Nassau Avenue G train station — because it draws in a steady stream of visitors.

They doubt that the proposed location — on a street that bisects the park and is near the Park’s Greendome Garden, community supported agricultural cooperative, outdoor concession stand, and handball and bocce courts — will attract as many shoppers.

Greenmarkets Director Michael Hurwitz told The Brooklyn Paper that moving the dozen or so venders is not an “insurmountable challenge,” but farmers fear the move because past relocations have been accompanied by sales droughts.

“In the short term, any move of a market means that we are going to lose some of the natural foot traffic, and it also requires additional staff time and resources so that we can have signage and banners and maps, and additional staff in the older location to encourage people to go the new location,” he said.

Shoppers echoed the farmers’ concerns.

“It would be a bad thing,” said Rebecca Green of Greenpoint. “I probably wouldn’t go over there as often.”

Greenpoint resident Luis Roman agreed.

“Over here, it’s easily accessible. Union Avenue is less convenient,” he said.

Not every move of a farmers’ market has been bad news for the growers.

Several years ago, the Parks Department relocated the McCarren Greenmarket from a spot near the entrance at Lorimer Street and Driggs Avenue to its current location, which many venders claim is better for business.

But many farmers remain fearful that the move to Union Avenue might turn out to be rotten.

“We’re located at the most-trafficked area in this park. Moving us would disconnect the market from the rest of the park,” said Joel Klose, a honey-seller from Lowman, New York. “It may be the end of this market.”