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Community heads welcome Flushing Farmer’s Market

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After more than a month in business, the Flushing Farmers’ Market was officially welcomed by community leaders Friday afternoon in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The market’s four upstate farms, which make the weekly trip to Flushing, offer fresh fruits and vegetables in front of the Flushing Mall at 133-31 39th Ave.

Earlier this year, Miriam Haas, founder of a farmers’ market organizing group known as Community Markets, had discussed setting up a market on the grounds of the Queens Botanical Garden.

But with capital renovations to the garden, Susan Lacerte, executive director of the garden, said she was unable to find room for the market.

“We loved the idea,” Lacerte said.

Instead Lacerte put Haas in touch with Wellington Chen, a developer with TDC Development and Construction, the organization which runs the Flushing Mall.

Haas and Chen worked out an arrangement, and the Flushing Farmers’ Market was born.

The Flushing market is scheduled to open every Friday through October from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is the third such market in the borough. Community Markets operates another market in Jamaica, and a third is run by the non-profit Council on the Environment of New York City in Jackson Heights.

The journey from upstate to Flushing was a long but worthwhile trip, the farmers said.

“Farming is very difficult because you are at the hand of nature,” said Nemo Nordia, 26, who works at Mead Orchards in Tivoli, N.Y., explaining that the drought had hurt many crops. “This year there are no apples on the trees.”

Nordia, who grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, said business had picked up since Mead first came to Flushing five weeks before.

The market itself brings together two different cultures of upstate New York farmers and Flushing residents, many of whom are Asian immigrants.

John Schoonbeck, 59, who also works at Mead, said he was impressed with Flushing.

“I feel right at home. I love coming here,” Schoonbeck said. “The neighborhood is just so interesting.”

Customers were equally pleased.

Soona Lee, who recently sold a Korean nightclub only a block from the market, said the market provided fresh produce to a population that usually does not travel to farms.

Lee said some foods appealed to Koreans more than others.

“We don’t use apples too much,” she said. “We use a lot of onions and cabbages.”

Frances McNamara, 67, who lives in Flushing, bought an array of zucchinis, apples and peppers. McNamara’s only complaint is that she wished the market was larger, adding that she hoped to see the market come back next year.

“I would come back as long as it’s here and there’s something fresh to buy,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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