PS 6 Greenmarket Withdrawn

PS6 will remain behind bars on Saturdays

Disappointing news broke in New York Magazine this morning about the greenmarket at PS 6 that was approved by Community Board 8 last month. It seems that the Council on the Environment formally withdrew the large PS 6 location for a new greenmarket. While the details are sketchy right now, from what I have been able to gather, Eli Zabar and the residents of the adjacent buildings to PS 6 hired lawyers and threatened to picket the greenmarket location if they started one there. As ridiculous as that seems, this is local politics on the Upper East Side:

The revolt started a few weeks ago, when members of Community Board 8 voted yes. Locals, along with fancy-grocery guy Eli Zabar, staged on-street protests against potential noise (from trucks) and sanitation (from scraps of leftover food).

As someone who has shopped and dined at Eli's in the past, I can say that I will never shop there again and I encourage everyone else to boycott him now that he has bullied the greenmarkets folks out of his domain. As for the residents across from PS 6 on East 82nd between Madison and Park, all I can say is that you have done your neighborhood a major disservice.

The meeting must have been pretty ugly from the sound of it:
"Strumolo was quite worried about being lynched," says anti-market activist Michele Harkins. Zabar calls Strumolo a "religious fanatic" for engaging in a myopic mission to turn the city organic while disregarding organic-friendly store owners--i.e., Zabar. "A religious fanatic?" Strumolo asks. "Well, I do have a master's degree in philosophy, and I go to church."

Frankly, I don't know what to make of Eli Zabar. After the first meeting about PS 6, after it was approved by the subcommittee, he asked if he could sell his rooftop garden foods, to which Stromolo agreed to in principle. But I don't think calling him names is going to help that cause.

Thankfully, there are some voices of reason willing to state the obvious:

C.B. 8 chair David Liston says that he is disappointed. The "real benefits far outweighed the imagined risks."

On a positive note, I have reached out to the local Councilmembers Lappin and Garodnick's offices. They are committed to finding new locations and potentially expanding the one at St. Stephen's if necessary. I also know that the Carnegie Hill Neighbors Association also supports a greenmarket in their neighborhood (just 10 blocks north of the PS 6 location). And over the next couple of months the folks from the Upper Green Side will help build support for alternate locations and the proposed expansion of the St. Stephen's location.

As usual, I will keep you up-to-date on all the latest as I hear it.

Oh my.  Picketing?  Seriously?  There's something just plane humorous about the idea of Madison Ave Richie Riches staging a "protest" over a greenmarket.  And New York Mag calling it "victory" over "hayseeds" and "organic rabble."  I just have to laugh...

As for Zabar's, I never shopped there anyway.  When I first moved to the area, I checked Eli's out, but it was immediately obvious that it caters to Upper East Side elites with too much money on their hands.

It's nice and all that he grows some stuff on roofs, but it's the money issue that's a problem.  If you want fresh, affordable local food, without all the expensive frou-frou window dressing - if you want to make an honest, responsible choice about the food resources you use - Eli's is no solution.  His store is just one more aspect of "New York as Luxury Product."

So I don't see why he's concerned about greenmarkets coming to the area - the people who shop at his store are never going to go to a greenmarket anyway.  They're not paying for the food, they're paying for the whole identity package that makes them feel like the kind of New Yorkers they want to feel like.  They're buying style, not substance.  He's not going to lose customers to a greenmarket.  Especially one that's only open once a week for a few months in the summer anyway.

Those of us who want better food options were never potential customers for him in the first place.

This is a sad development due to most people in the area not taking the essential time to fully consider Peak Everything ramifications and halting their detritus delusion.  I suggest that this is just more concrete evidence that can be used to increase the secession drive for the creation of distinct biosolar habitats.  Otherwise, the detritovores will continue to drown those biosolars desperately seeking a lifeboat.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Wow - well said, and I totally agree. Eli's is a lovely store, and the produce looks good, but I can't afford a grape there! I do buy other things there once in a while - specialty items, soups, cheese, bread, things like that. But as much I as stop and admire the produce, I always go to a smaller market to buy my veggies. Their prices are just too much for me. Eli's would never lose any biz from me, to a Green Market, and they might even gain more since they would be on my route to PS6.
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