Greenmarket Vendors Enjoy Their Work Despite Challenges

Scott stands behind the display of treats for sale at vegan bakery Body and Soul.
Scott stands behind the display of treats for sale at vegan bakery Body and Soul.

Walking into Union Square on a Monday gives a feeling of community. Tents selling everything, from cookies to flowers, line the square and people walk though, looking for the products they need. This is the Union Square Greenmarket, a hot spot for tourists and native New Yorkers.

Many farmers and business owners work at the greenmarket to make a living. They experience problems like weather and people not wanting to buy their goods, but they are also able to work in a pleasant, unique environment unlike most people.

“It’s a nice place to work,” said Scott, who works at a vegan bakery tent called Body and Soul. He added that he liked being outside.

But when asked about the problems of working in the greenmarket, he answered “the weather,” saying that the sweltering heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter are some of his main problems. Overall though, Body and Soul has been pretty successful. Over half of its reviews on Yelp, a food rating site, are 4 or 5 stars.

A lady selling flowers who asked to remain anonymous had bigger problems than the weather. She said that it’s been hard for her to sell her flowers in recent years due to the recession. People are only buying goods they need, like food, so flower sales are going down.

She has been selling flowers since 1986, and even though times are hard for her now, she still wants to continue. “I like to grow my flowers, that’s my passion,” she said.

Also in Union Square, right outside the greenmarket, a row of stands with blue umbrellas sell art.

Yuri Bobrykov, an artist who sells paintings of New York City landscapes, said that Union Square is a great community for artists.

He originally chose to set up a stand in Union Square because of all the traffic it gets. Now he has been there for five years and really enjoys it. He said that Union Square is “comfortable for me and comfortable for my art”.

The Union Square Greenmarket was started in 1976, according to the website of GrowNYC, the organization that runs greenmarkets all over the city. It started out very small, with only a few tents, but it has gone through a lot of growth since then.

Now, according to GrowNYC, “in peak season, 140 regional farmers, fishermen and bakers descend upon Union Square to sell their products to a devout legion of city dwellers who support local agriculture with their food dollars.”

With such a large amount of competition, and the always-changing weather conditions, it may seem daunting to set up a stand in Union Square. But as Scott from Body and Soul said, “all in all, it’s fun to work outside”.