“Local produce is much, much, much better,”
Noni Fernandez explains to me when I ask her how the produce at Bed-Stuy Greenmarket compares to Food Town, where her mother buys vegetables.
Noni, 13, along with Shane Jiles-Joseph, 18 and Demetris Edwards, 17 are running a produce stand with the help of Lloyd Porter of Bread Stuy and Tom Strumolo, Greenmarket manager. The idea came to Lloyd at the beginning of the summer. He wanted to fatten up the Greenmarket that sits across the street from his coffee shop while sneaking in a few lessons of entrepreneurship and job skills. He’s hoping it will bring more customers and in turn, attract more farmers.
Before today Noni, Shane and Demetris sought advice from the kids at Added Value, an urban, kid-run farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn. They got ideas on how to display their product (keep it full and colorful), how to treat customers (be friendly) and how to work quickly (keep the prices in your head). Both Shane and Demetris have other jobs (Shane at Duane Reade and Demetris at City College book store) so they appreciate the time outdoors and occasionally take breaks between customers to dance to the music coming from a dj across the street.
All three seem excited at the prospect of running their own stand. They’re making connections between the land and their food. And they’re learning: one farmer explained that his carrots were so tiny because of a microscopic worm that took over them. Shane discovered a new love for tart skin and sweet flesh of concord grapes.
At their stand on Saturdays: string beans, $2/lb; apple cider, $2.50/half gallon; concord grapes, $4; collard greens, $2/bunch; tomatoes, $2/lb; Macintosh, Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples, $1/lb; string beans, $2/lb; bread, $2/ea; mums, $5/ea.