It has now been six months since COVID-19 upended life as we knew it here in New York City. Now, as we catch our breath, one word in particular keeps coming to mind: adaptable.
Greenmarket farmers, staff, and customers alike have had to adjust to new conditions and protocols, facing disruptions to nearly every aspect of daily life. As staff, we are grateful to GrowNYC for keeping the markets open and operating smoothly during this time. Farmers markets are a lifeline to both farmers and consumers, and although we get to work here, we are also eaters and the market is a special community that constantly inspire us.
Back in early February, long before the shelter in place order took effect (on March 20th), we felt as if the ground were trembling beneath our feet as consumers began loading up on grains, beans and flours. A lot has happened since then and we wanted to share a few reflections on the past few months at the Grainstand.
Starting in mid- March, our lines at market began an hour before opening. For six weeks, we heard from consumers who reported that area grocery stores were out of flour, and then, out of yeast. And thus began the sourdough deluge. Bread flours were in high demand, along with rye flour to feed all those new starters. Pre-orders, especially at our neighborhood markets increased fivefold as folks started making their own bread. Over the course of six months, we moved just shy of 80,000 lbs of local grain, including 6,000 lbs of beans and grains through World Central Kitchen's food box relief efforts.
We have been humbled by the opportunity to provide this crucial service in a time of need and by the patience and flexibility of our customers whose weekly market shopping experience was turned upside down. This pandemic has proven how resilient our local food system can be, as well as how crucial small grains and other staple foods are in rounding out both our farming systems and our pantries.