NYC Wholesale Farmers’ Market Feasibility Study (2003-2007)

While Greenmarkets have demonstrated the enormous demand among New York City consumers for locally grown foods purchased directly from farmers, significant barriers at the wholesale level prevent local restaurants, grocers, caterers, and food service institutions from accessing foods grown or produced in New York or adjacent states.  To address this problem, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets retained a team led by Market Ventures, Inc. and Karp Resources to study the feasibility of creating a new wholesale farmers’ market or markets in NYC.

In Phase 1, the Market Ventures team identified and surveyed potential buyers among the nearly 20,000 restaurants, retailers, distributors, and other wholesale food purchasers in New York, as well as hundreds of farmers located in the neighboring counties. International examples of wholesale farmers’ markets were studied. Outcomes of the project included quantification of the demand and supply for locally grown foods in New York City, estimates for economic impact, creation of an “ideal model,” and identification of buyer and seller preferences. The team created a web site to enhance communication.

As a result of this work, the Department, again with support from USDA, retained the MVI/Karp team, including Hugh A. Boyd Architects, to lead an in-depth planning process, including site selection, design, financial analysis, and management planning. Two high potential sites were identified – the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market and the Fulton Street Fish Market – and the team received initial support from the cooperatives that run both markets to locate the wholesale farmers’ market there. The Governor of New York identified the NYC wholesale farmers’ market as his top agricultural priority and the state’s FY2009 budget included $25 million to support its development.