Riverdale Y Sunday Market: It’s More than a Market, It’s a Movement
Kelly McLane looked out of her Riverdale apartment onto the empty entrance to the local public school, commonly known as RKA. “This would be a great space for a farmers market,” she thought to herself. A professional farmers market manager, she would know a thing or two about it. Little did she know her next opportunity was in the making.
Sure enough, some neighborhood moms were on the same wavelength. Collaborating with the Riverdale Y they reached out to some friends and vendors to open up the first Riverdale Y Sunday Market in 2010. The project soon evolved into an all-inclusive market at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy with a variety of vendors, not just farmers. About four years later Kelly would join the team at the Y as the market manager.
“Six years ago there was no local produce in the area,” says Kelly “All the commerce was on the east side of the parkway.” Now, the once-empty yard is filled with the sweet fragrance of summer strawberries from Orchards of Concklin, a farm in upstate New York. The sweetness lingers as you make your first round through the market. It wraps around until the wind wafts a new scent past your nose. The fresh-baked loaves at Orwasher’s Bread have customers gliding on tiptoes to the table. It’s intimate and encompassing, much like the atmosphere at the market.
The Market is now a place were families land between soccer practice at Seton Park or after a service in the neighboring synagogues. It’s a community initiative representative of a diverse neighborhood. “Culture is being incorporated,” says Kelly, “and people are appreciative.” Ronnybrook Farm sells kosher and organic creamy dairy delicacies. Dr. Pickle’s kosher pickled treats, olives and krauts are also well received in the land of Liebman’s Deli.
Kelly calls the Sunday Market a sustainability movement: “It’s what connects the vendors.” Area artists like Nan Siegmund sell their creative handmade wares alongside Gonzalez Family Farm’s no-spray vegetables and herbs. It’s a testament to a greater movement in the Bronx: being conscious consumers with a focus on local products. Green Tree Textiles collects used clothing, linens and shoes for recycling and repurposing. It’s not all about the food at the Sunday Market, but about the wholesome lifestyle they’re trying promote.
It’s about coming together, and the Sunday Market looks forward to bringing more local vendors and organizations on board. A new Bronx-based business, Beazer’s Garden Bath & Beauty, will set up shop for this first time this season. Bronx native Kim Beazer hand-makes natural botanical bath and body products for those concerned with what goes on their body as well as in it. It’s a step forward in the Sunday Market’s mission of bringing in local produce and products made right here in the borough.
It is a mission that brings an inclusive message to the neighborhood. The Riverdale Y Sunday Market branches out beyond food into the borough’s identity: It’s more than a farmers market; it’s a social experience.