Last weekend, the weekly Stuyvesant Town greenmarket wasn’t the only way to get fresh food on the Oval. On Saturday, September 24, about 450 people gathered there for the Taste of Stuy Town food festival. The food was free for all Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper residents at the now-annual event.
Attendees were given a little cardboard box in which to place their samples, then walked by the stands and got their food from vendors like Five Stuy Café, Crif Dogs NY, Big Mozz Sticks, Dan & John’s Wings, People’s Pops, Wonder + Well drinks and Butter Lane cupcakes.
Sean Rodden, a worker at Dan & John’s Wings, said, “Today’s been crazy successful for us. We just keep looking up and that line just doesn’t stop.”
There was also live music by the band Jeff Slate & Friends.
Lucas Samascott at his family farm’s booth (Photo by Maya Rader)
By Maya Rader
On the day of the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket, Lucas Samascott wakes up at “only 4 o’clock,” as he said. On other days, he wakes up at 3 a.m. Samascott works for Samascott Orchards, a farm started by his grandfather in Fulton County, New York.
Samascott Orchards sells many kinds of produce, but mainly apples, growing over 100 different varieties.
Samascott’s job on the farm is centered around selling at farmer’s markets. When he isn’t running a stand, he’s loading trucks and gathering food to bring to the markets. Samascott Orchards has stands at Union Square, Columbia University, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Inwood Hill and 82nd Street markets. The farm has also been at the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket ever since it first opened.
Samascott Orchards is not certified organic, but according to Samascott, though the farm uses pesticides, organic isn’t always better. He noted that some of the big organic companies whose products are found in the supermarket use what are known as organic pesticides.
Tenzin Khechok at the Migiorelli Farms stand (Photo by Maya Rader)
By Maya Rader
Tenzin Khechok has never been to the farm he works for. However, that doesn’t limit his passion for the vegetables and fruits he sells at markets all over the city for Migliorelli Farm. “I enjoy it every day,” Khechok said.
Migliorelli Farm is located in Dutchess County in Upstate New York. The farm sells a wide range of produce, from apples to corn, at many markets across the city, including Stuyvesant Town’s own greenmarket. The farm is not certified organic, though it does limit the use of pesticides and is GMO-free.
Khechok started working for Migliorelli Farm two years ago as a salesman and cashier at farmer’s markets. He said he “learns almost every day” by selling food at the markets. He explained that customers tell him what they know about different foods he sells, and then he imparts that knowledge to other customers. “You learn from each other,” commented Khechok.
Judy Genova, owner of B & Y Farms (Photo by Maya Rader)
By Maya Rader
Judy Genova has always been a “pioneer,” as her mother says. Though Genova was born at Beth Israel Medical Center and grew up on the Lower East Side, she is now the owner of B & Y Farms, a 74-acre sheep, pig and chicken farm in Spencer, NY. “I just go in a different direction than everyone else,” Genova said.
Genova began to live on the land in 1991. As a stay-at-home mom, she homeschooled her children, and had a huge garden and some chickens. However, she didn’t start farming until nine years ago. She explained, “I just decided I’m paying a lot of taxes on this land; how can I put it to better use?”
B & Y Farms is not organic, though it is, “very natural” as Genova put it. Being organic, she explained, is “a paperwork nightmare.” Genova said she knows certified organic farmers who have to hire a full-time secretary to keep up with all of the paperwork.
Genova’s job title is technically owner, but at the farm she works on “anything and everything.” For example, this past winter she had over 70 pregnant sheep and no help. “I was on-call all of the time,” She said. “I basically did everything a shepherd would do, and also everything I guess a sheep-obstetrician would do.”
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.”
Pablo Navas helps customers at the Stuyvesant Town market. (Photo by Kaley Pillinger)
By Kaley Pillinger
At a market saturated with crates of rainbow kale and shoppers carrying bags of Swiss chard is a singular cheese stand. But Pablo Navas of Valley Shepherd Creamery is anything but lonely at the Stuyvesant Town Farmers’ Market. Gesturing to the stalls on his left, Navas commented, “I always like to stay beside the bread. There’s a wine guy, I don’t know where he is today. But I always say: ‘Wine, bread and cheese, that’s all you need.’ That’s pretty much my dinner.”
At the Union Square Farmers’ Market, too, Navas sets up his stand next to the same bread stall, Bread Alone. Being the only cheese vendor, he’s greeted by loyal cheese-lovers every week and gets to learn about the palates of different neighborhoods. In Stuyvesant Town, mozzarella is the favorite; in Union Square, tourists and students flock to him for tastes; and at 82nd street, customers buy large blocks at a time. Navas finds that, “At 82nd, there’s a lot of old people and they love cheese.”
Navas came to the U.S. in January from Spain for an internship at Valley Shepherd Creamery in Morris County, NJ. Being at markets on weekends allows Navas to speak English, but being at the farm provides him ample opportunity to practice as well.
Ashley Edington of Seatuck Fish Company in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Kaley Pillinger)
By Kaley Pillinger
It’s been nine years and Ashley Edington still gets seasick. Since she was 15, she has been working with her uncle at Seatuck Fish Company, and mornings on the fishing boat usher in rounds of queasiness.
Seatuck is a tried and true family business based in Moriches Bay, Long Island, and Edington understands the market like a second language. She knows when to get which fish; they migrate with seasons, and there are regulations by month — “You can’t touch a bass before June 1st.”
On weekdays, the Edingtons take their boat out for the day and are home by dinner. On weekends, they set up shop in one of their eight regular markets.
Each market has a unique personality: Customers at 175th Street and Broadway favor whole fish, crabs and chowders, whereas those at the Stuyvesant Town market prefer scallops. Only an hour after the market’s opening, Edington was already onto her second bucket of scallops. However, it’s not always easy determining which fish to bring.
“Some weeks they might buy a lot of calamari and the next week they won’t buy any. It’s always a guessing game.”
Missing the mark results in a waste of time and resources. Just the process of transportation alone is cumbersome. Edington commented that coolers can be one of the company’s biggest expenses: the company buys around twenty coolers annually.
In general, though, she has a sense of customers’ tastes. She has many customers for whom she can start bagging the fish as soon as she sees them approaching. Countless more customers ask for advice on opening shellfish or making a fish soup. She joked that she gives cooking instructions “about 300 times a day.”
One man, picking up mussels from the Seatuck stand, asked Edington who cleans all the fish and she told him it was she.
He incredulously responded, “There are too many for one person.”
The following letter was sent by a resident of Stuyvesant Town to David Woodward, president of Compassrock Real Estate, LLC. (The letter has been edited for length and the author’s name has been withheld upon request.)
My father was one of the GIs who came to live here right after WWII. I was born here and have lived here on two more occasions, most recently for the last 29 years. Both of my daughters were born here and I raised my second daughter here and she will be 24 in August.
My daily exercise routine, every morning for the last 29 years has included a power/speed walk around the Oval. However at one point I had to move my workout to the East River due to being suddenly and viciously attacked by an over the weight limit, dangerous dog. The dog is large and is mostly white with black patches on its head and back. This dog had previously lunged at me about five times and the owner refuses to properly control the dog as people pass by. I changed my route after asking the owner to properly control the dog to no avail.
I am lucky that I have my eyesight as the dog came from behind the low wall by the Oval Study and reared up on its hind legs, like a bear, and went for my eyes. I was fortunate to have good reflexes and blocked the paws with my wrist weights but the dog proceeded to carve into my chest and down my right thigh, causing me to bleed. As an “unruly puller,” I have seen this dog lunge at children and small dogs and the owner is not strong enough to keep control as the dog walks her.
Since then I have had the misfortune of the dog and owner come past my apartment building when I was starting out on my workout a week ago. The dog tried to attack my left arm and again I pulled it away just in time. I could not believe this same dog is still walking the premises despite the fact that I have notified security every single time the dog goes after me. The owner resides at 430 East 20th Street. 4.7 million Americans are bitten or cut or attacked by dogs every year. 15 to 20 people die each year, 30,000 have surgery. When a dog has dangerous propensities, the owner is liable but the landlord can be held negligent. One security officer suggested that the dog has a blood lust for me.
My added concern is that after the dog cut my chest and thigh, months later I was rushed to NYU’s ER as I developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my thigh and leg and was treated with a blood thinner so that I didn’t throw a clot to my lungs or brain. I have to take this medication every day. This is the same condition Hillary Clinton just had in recent months. The concern is not that I am afraid of the dog; it’s that this dog or any other aggressive over weight (was 80 lbs., now is a 50 lb. restriction) dog will scratch/cut/lacerate any part of my body and I could bleed to death or if it knocks me down and I hit my head, a blot clot could form in my brain. I am also concerned that when my blood relatives, like my two daughters and grandson might also be attacked by this dog if blood lust in animals actually exists in dogs.
My suggestion is that all dog owners should be required to demonstrate that their dog is not over the weight limit and use short three foot training leashes. Ban the use of extension leashes, which will be against the rules when a dog enters the Oval or any path leading to the Oval; when walking two or more dogs, they all need to be to one side of the dog walker, not off in opposite directions, taking up the entire width of the path. Any dog that lunges should be banned from any path leading to the Oval.
Another suggestion: Ban dogs from entering the Oval at all. Why have you put up the green fences in the community? Was that decision dog related?
Another beautiful weekend in Stuyvesant Town, and another great opportunity to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables at the Farmers Market. Local farmers were out with organic eggs, cheeses, breads, Macouns and Jonagold apples, not to mention organic turkey sausage, cinnamon apple pork sausage, cider donuts, jams and jellies, and Finnish flatbreads.
Congratulations and thank you to those tenants who stood up to the naysayers in the Tenants Association who wanted to shut down the market. Special thanks to Council Member Daniel Garodnick and his staff who worked out a fair compromise with the City’s Planning Department to keep the market in place for tenants and their guests.
Truly, there is nothing that a small group of committed individuals cannot accomplish.
All tenants are encouraged to support our local farmers in the weeks to come, and enjoy end of the season fruits and root vegetables.
Name Withheld, ST
Busted FDNY units pose danger to residents
(Left) Emergency unit with Fire Department emergency push button and Police Department emergency push button (Right) Emergency unit
Having subscribed to Town & Village for well over 35 years, it has always been a newspaper that served this community by printing pertinent articles dealing with the social and public safety of its citizens.
I have written numerous letters to a Mr. Gerald Neville, who is the director of communications for the New York City Fire Department. These letters, I am sad to state, prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Fire Department’s infrastructure is in hazardous condition, which greatly affects the public safety of our citizens.
My credibility is based upon the fact that I have had over 30 years as a professional engineer in the construction field, working for the NYC Housing Authority, the Department of Education, the NYC Comptroller’s Office and the Department of Transportation.
Fires are the worst type of destruction because they are never extinguished without horrendous damage and death. The NYC Fire Department infrastructure must be maintained in perfect condition, so as to ensure public safety. Sincerely,
Re: Letter, “Essential Black History Month,” T&V, Feb. 9
It is with great concern that I formulate this rebuttal to the recent reader comments that I read in your publication concerning Black History Month and Oval Essentials. Being one of the principals of the operations team that coordinates all programming, I take great pride in the offerings, service level and diversity of events that we put on monthly to enhance the entire resident experience here at Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town.
Let me start by stating that my intention is not to discredit these mistaken and misguided comments. But, rather to use this misinformed example as an opportunity to communicate to all of your readers the vastness of the offerings provided by the various teams working around the clock here at PCV/ST. Our goal is to develop and provide the most exciting and enriching programs at a minimum of cost to the participants, and quite frankly, I believe we succeed with flying colors.
For as low as $15 per month, residents have access to some 15 plus special events per month. We hold monthly How-To-Tuesday informative demonstrations that range from resume building to dating workshops. Recently we have held both salsa and tango dance classes. We put on free-for-all-residents parties centered on monthly pop culture and sporting events. We also provide free tutoring for kids, monthly presentations from some of the city’s most interesting museums and our author lecture series. And, this doesn’t even begin to touch the surface of our myriad of children’s programs and fitness offerings. If the writer of these comments had taken the time to thoroughly explore all our offerings, she would have seen that in Oval Kids (just this week) we held an arts and crafts event centered around Romare Bearden – the famed African-American artist and writer who worked in a variety of mediums including; cartoon, collage and oils. Upon further inspection of our monthly calendar, this writer would also have been informed of the two (2) Capoeira dance classes – the Brazilian dance/art form created by African slaves – that we are holding on February 22 and 29th. Continue reading →
In celebration of Meat Week NYC, Chef Francis Derby will be appearing at the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket on Sunday, November 6, to demonstrate cooking with pasture-raised lamb and seasonal Greenmarket ingredients.
Chef Derby was Chef de Cuisine at Shorty’s, and focused on creating seasonal, market-driven menu offerings — and now you can learn how to cook seasonally too. The event will take place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket offers pasture raised lamb, pork and chicken fresh from the fields and woods of B&Y Farms in Spencer, NY in addition to free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free turkey from DiPaola Turkey Farms. For more information on Meat Week NYC please visit http://meatweeknyc.com.