Writer & Photographer
It feels good to support your community, and it feels even better when you learn the stories of those around you.
RB Bushwick Farmers Markets provide us, local residents, with the opportunity to purchase fresh produce, to satisfy our sweet tooth, and to elevate our tight-knit neighborhood.
This sunny Saturday at Maria Hernandez Park, we met with some of the Bushwick Farmers Market vendors, and walked away with several new friends, bundles of fresh food, and a happy heart.
The Doe Fund: Spinach Quiche & Pastries
There is more than meets the eye than freshly baked pastries. The Doe Fund is a New York City-based nonprofit that breaks cycles of homelessness, addiction and criminal recidivism by providing transitional housing, life skills, educational assistance and graduate services to individuals in need with the goal of permanent self-sufficiency. This is the second year that The Doe Fund has been selling freshly baked, from-scratch pastries at Bushwick Farmers Market to help raise funds for their programs.
“[It’s been] two wonderful years. The Bushwick Farmers Market is very supportive and kind. A lot of people come back consistently,” Derrick Booknight, The Doe Fund’s market manager says.
Derrick went through the Doe Fund’s Culinary Program himself a few years back. “The program was recommended to me by some friends, I needed a way to get back on my feet,” he explains.
“The Doe Fund changed my life. I have a career. I love what I do. It has helped my people skills. It has helped me to be a positive role model for my kids and grandkids. Very grateful for the market and the people of Bushwick,” Booknight says.
Booknight does the baking not only for their farmers market stand, but for those undergoing the graduate program and living in The Doe Fund’s quarters.
This vendor’s bestseller? The spinach quiche! “It’s my favorite, and not just because I make it. It’s good,” Booknight laughs.
Tommy Joe Coffee: Delightful Cold Brew
Bushwick resident, Tom Meyer, has been working in the coffee industry since moving to New York City five years ago. Currently he works at Little Italy’s Cafetal Social Club as a barista and waiter. “I thought I could do this better, so I bought unroasted green coffee beans and started experimenting in my Bushwick loft. I figured out a way to do large batches, two liters at a time,” Meyer explains.
Meyer began selling his coffee at apartment shows, and Tommy Joe Coffee was born. This is the coffee brewer’s second season at the Bushwick Farmers Market, and he sets up shop every Saturday at Maria Hernandez Park.
Aside from selling regular pour-overs, cold brews and Vietnamese iced coffee (with sweetened, condensed milk), Meyer’s speciality is the ‘ice brew,’ a style of coffee popular in Japan. “I use hot water and brew a concentrate that is poured directly on ice, which gets all of the flavors out of the beans – cold brews aren’t as flavorful as this. It’s very well-balanced; there’s a lot of brightness. You can dilute it to the right strength, the ice cools immediately and it’s fresh,” he says.
“I love doing this, selling something you make is a nice feeling,” Meyer reflects.
Pavia Farm: Tomatillos and Veggies
Ruperto Pavia-Neri and his wife Rosbelia became farmers at Greenmarket, after moving from their home state of Oaxaca, Mexico to Staten Island. In his former country, Pavia-Neri used to farm corn, beans and summer squash, and now he grows and sells everything imaginable that’s in season from jalapenos and red peppers, to grapes and cherries.
The couple and business duo has been maintaining Pavia Farm in Hazlet, New Jersey and selling their produce at the Bushwick Farmers Market for the past 10 years. “I’ll wake up at 5 a.m. every morning in Staten Island, and get to Hazlet around 9 a.m. to work. My wife and I are both responsible for farming; she is mostly responsible for transplanting different plants from the greenhouse, and I’m outside,” Pavia-Neri explains.
Pavia Farm mostly grows year-round and each year varies in produce, including one recent year when they grew purple tomatoes. Tomatillos are their most popular seller, but Pavia-Neri says all of the produce is his favorite, as he enjoys planting and harvesting everything.
“There’s a sense of friendship in the space of the Bushwick Farmers Market and in the community as well. I’m very happy with the organizers and team,” Pavia-Neri reflects.
Want to visit the Bushwick Farmers Market and support these lovely vendors? See their current schedule below and follow the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council on Facebook to stay up-to-date.