‘Earth’ to Chelsea: At Weekly Farmers Market, a Harvest of Fresh Food, New Ideas

John Grado, owner of Demi Olive Oil, giving a sample to Bria Miller, who said she appreciated how the market provides “great information about growing and preparing food.” | Photo by Mion Edwards

BY MION EDWARDS | Located on W. 23rd St. just off Ninth Ave., Down to Earth Farmers Market holds true to its name by providing a laid-back outdoor shopping experience every Sat., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Dec. 15. The weekend of July 7 was no different, as Chelsea Now had the pleasure of interacting with farmers, customers, artisans, and entrepreneurs, all brought together by fellowship, fresh foliage, produce, pastries, and even an assortment of wine and spirits.

The market was intimate and inviting. Upon arrival, vendors greeted potential customers with warm smiles and free samples. Water glistened on the fruit and vegetables as you walked by.

“You’re looking at the guy that picks the olives, makes the oil, bottles, and labels every one,” said John Grado, owner of Demi Olive Oil, “so it’s a direct pipeline to the trees that are over 100 years old.”

Grado spoke proudly of Demi’s origins. He’s been in the business since 2005, proudly setting up shop in Chelsea on the weekends to sell his olive oil, which comes from his family’s farm in Greece. At his stand, he offered customers a sample of his olive oil along with a piece of toasted bread.

“I do a circuit of farmers markets,” Grado noted, “and for me it’s about relationships. I have customers at all the places that I go. I’ve known these people for years, and that brings me joy.”

All of the vendors we encountered were eager to provide Chelsea residents with a garden-fresh option to add to their meals.

Tenzin Tenkyong, a Jersey Farm Produce employee, bagging a customer’s groceries. | Photo by Mion Edwards

“We are here to give fresh greens and fresh fruits,” said Tenzin Tenkyong, an employee of Pittstown, NJ-based Jersey Farm Produce. He then noted how their produce is important to the community because “there are no pesticides, and the [produce] is certified organic.”

Tenkyong added that anything Jersey Farm Produce grows in order to sell has to be in season. He and another employee helped customers bag, weigh, and complete their orders.

“The more customers we have, the more it makes me feel better,” he said.

On the day we visited, a steady stream of locals stopped by to take full advantage of the friendly sidewalk shopping experience.

“What I enjoy the most about farmers markets are that they’re different from your local grocery store that is open seven days a week,” said shopper Bria Miller. “At a farmers market,” she noted, “you are able to walk freely and smell the fresh fruit and vegetables. You are able to get to know the different farmers, who are very passionate and knowledgeable about the food.”

Miller said she appreciated how she was “able to get great information about growing and preparing food.”

An Echo Creek Farm employee helping a customer while shopping. | Photo by Mion Edwards

Speaking of preparing the food, I didn’t just report on Down to Earth Farmers Market — I put my money where my mouth is, literally, in order to find out exactly what a customer could get for $10.

Finding ingredients that could cohesively create a fresh summertime salad was my mission. From Salem, NY-based Echo Creek Farm, I purchased two green apples for $1.50 a pound, a bunch of Italian kale for $3, and a basket of fresh strawberries for $4. My total cost, once the apples were weighed, was $9.

With these ingredients, I made a kale and green apple salad with zesty strawberry vinaigrette. I found the recipe on tattooedmartha.com. To create this salad, all you need are the items from the farmers market, and a few things that would normally be found in the pantry.

The ingredients for a kale and green apple salad, with zesty strawberry vinaigrette. | Photo by Mion Edwards

Here are the ingredients for the dressing recipe, which I also found on tattooedmartha.com (I deviated somewhat from the original recipe).

1 cup of fresh strawberry juice (about 8-10 large strawberries)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp honey

½ tsp fresh ground pepper

¼ tsp salt

¼ garlic powder

I put together all of the ingredients listed above into my NutriBullet and ground them until the mixture had a dressing-like consistency.

The below measurements will yield one bowl of salad.

1 ½ cups fresh kale, rinsed and cut or torn into small chunks

¼ cup green apple and 5 strawberries, sliced

Feta cheese to sprinkle on top

Once you dice the ingredients for the salad and mix the strawberry vinaigrette in a medium bowl, you can enjoy the fruits (and kale) of your labor. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy knowing that you’re eating a healthy meal while also supporting local farmers.

The Down to Earth Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at W. 23rd St., just off Ninth Ave. For more information, visit downtoearthmarkets.com, demioliveoil.com, echocreekfarm.com, and grownyc.org/nfdp/jerseyfarmproduce.

The final product: Mion Edwards’ summertime salad, with ingredients from Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market. | Photo by Mion Edwards

Fresh strawberries from Echo Creek Farm. | Photo by Mion Edwards

Fresh Kale at the Echo Creek Farm stand. | Photo by Mion Edwards

Echo Creek Farm’s fresh apples. | Photo by Mion Edwards



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *