When the New York State Greenmarket Regional Food Hub (also known as the Hub) is completed in 2020, farmer Rogelio Batista will be selling his kale there to the numerous processors and retailers that place a premium on buying New York State-grown produce. Batista’s journey from packing lettuce in the fields of Orange County, New York to establishing his own farm business started when he first turned to the New Farmer Development Program (NFDP) at GrowNYC, then a six year-old project funded through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), that worked with farmers born in other countries wanting to adapt their skills to the Northeast. After receiving farm business development training, GrowNYC staff supported Batista to secure farmland, navigate the systems of northeast agriculture, and plug into GrowNYC’s network of Greenmarkets, where he first started selling. The NFDP also provided a micro-loan, funded by Heifer International to help Batista get started. 

The retail Greenmarkets that Rogelio depends on to sell his produce directly to consumers has been playing a vital role for regional agriculture since 1976. In addition to providing crucial income to the 240 farmers that travel weekly to New York City from seven states, maintaining 39,000 acres yielding over 12,000 individual varieties, Greenmarkets has been a huge driver of consumer demand of local agriculture. To be operated by GrowNYC, The Hub will be a model of social enterprise being built to increase farmer viability and equitably distribute regionally produced food throughout New York City. This first of its kind infrastructure will create new jobs, bridge the urban and rural divide, and continue to build a resilient food system that prioritizes people and communities. The Hub is also a model of public and private partnership, funded primarily by New York State Empire State Development, with additional money coming from the  federal Economic Development Administration, New York City Council, Farm Credit East, and some from private philanthropy. Thank you to GrowNYC for contributing this story.

Read more in How State and Federal Programs Support Farmers, Fishermen, Food Entrepreneurs and Consumers in the Northeast. Photo of Rogelio Bautista and his wife Yesenia at their farm, located in Goshen, Orange County, New York (Photo via El Diario)