Jordon Lawrence shows off two oddly shaped eggplants while working beside his father at the Trinity Farm stand during the María Hernández Park Farmers Market last Saturday. — Photo by Diego Cupolo
Though it got off to a slow start in July, the María Hernández Park Farmers Market has been getting more business recently, and vendors couldn’t be happier as the harvest season approaches. The small market began several years ago with funding from the city health department, but got a sponsorship boost this year through Make the Road NY that has attracted more vendors and, as a result, more customers.
"It’s getting bigger every week," said Jenny Parker, market manager and a Make the Road employee. "I’m actually surprised that it’s this bustling on a rainy day."
Beneath a dark gray overcast, four tents were pitched at the corner of Kinickerbocker and Starr Street last Saturday, with a steady stream of locals stopping by to pick up fresh produce and chat with the farmers. Participating vendors included Rancho La Bareja, Trinity Farms, and Pavia Family Farms and the drop-off table sold bread from Roberta’s, Finger Lakes Honey, Cayuga Pure Organics dry beans and some Red Jacket Orchards products.
Mark Lawrence, who runs Trinity Farms in Clintondale, NY, with his family, scoffed at the idea that nearby produce stores like Angel’s Fruit Market and Peach Farm on Knickerbocker Avenue could compete with him for customers.
"Their products have been stored for who knows how long, you can’t compare it to this," Lawrence said as he picked up a Jonagold apple. "I mean this was picked on Wednesday."
The market, along with the Linden Street and Graham Avenue farmers markets, also accepts food stamps. For every five dollars customers spend in food stamps at these markets, they receive a two dollar coupon called "Farmers Market Health Bucks" which they can only use at participating farmers markets. The program includes 15 other markets in Brooklyn and encourages lower-income families to spend their food stamps on fresh produce, Parker said.
Make the Road is currently working on funding for next year’s farmers market to continue the momentum. Parker said she hopes to get refrigerators on the site for farmers that want to sell dairy products.
"It’s an adventure for me to come down here," Lawrence said. "I look forward to loading up the truck at night and driving to the city. I meet new people everyday and it’s a lot of fun."
The María Hernández Farmers Market is located at the corner of Knickerbocker Avenue and Starr Street. It is open on Saturdays from 9 am-3 pm and will run until November 14.
A full list of Brooklyn’s farmers markets is available here.