Meet your local greenmarket farmers: Spotlight on Stuy Town’s Toigo Orchards

Ruthy Effler and Jiri Pospisil by their market stall (Photo by Kaley Pillinger)

Ruthy Effler and Jiri Pospisil by their market stall (Photo by Kaley Pillinger)

By Kaley Pillinger

Think of it like a Rubik’s Cube: the constant shuffling of pieces and the attempt to get everything where it belongs is reminiscent of the opening hours at the Stuyvesant Town Farmers’ Market for Jiri Pospisil and Ruthy Effler of Toigo Orchards.

The aim of the game is to get all of the peaches, apples, and other produce to New York from their farm in Shippensburg, PA without too many casualties.

Pospisil commented, “I could talk for hours. Because people are used to getting the best food here, if you have under ripe or overripe fruit, they won’t touch it. So it needs to be timed perfectly. You have to coordinate the fruits at the farm, who is loading the trucks, unloading the trucks, pickers.”

The workers at Toigo Orchards conduct this intricate routine both between Shippensburg and New York and Shippensburg and Washington, D.C. The markets in D.C. are open for fewer hours at a time, which results in increased congestion.

Pospisil and Effler prefer New York markets to those in D.C. Pospisil commented that, “All the people of the world live in NYC. D.C. is very sterile. That’s just not my kind of people.”

Effler said she finds there is “a better chance to talk to people here. You have the little kids that come as they get older. You find out what people like.”

She usually gives these kids an apple or a peach to snack on as they browse.

Once, a customer made pickled watermelon rinds from Toigo Orchard fruit and even brought some for Effler to taste.

As they get to know the neighborhoods, they are able to discern the characteristics of their customers. In Union Square, the crowd often consists of restaurateurs buying vegetables to cook at their restaurants. In Stuyvesant Town, the consumer base is getting younger and younger as college students continue to move in.

When asked what the competition is like at grocery stores, Pospisil laughed: “I don’t go there. I have no idea.”