The Bronx Hunts Point Terminal Market is a 113-acre wholesale hub that has been selling produce to the New York City’s bodegas, restaurants, grocery stores and schools for the last 45 years. Right now, it is in deep negotiations with the city about how to pay for much needed renovations. Environmental advocates and some city and state officials would like to see a farmers market included in the improvements. They say this will make it easier for smaller and local farms to sell wholesale there. But some established distributors at Hunts Point don’t want the extra competition.
Mackenzie Issler reports.
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MACKENZIE ISSLER, REPORTER:
It’s about 6:30 in the morning on one of the loading docks at Hunts Point market. A steady stream of rain is falling. Trucks are backed up to the platform, idling in this sprawling industrial lot.
Sound: Boxes being stacked — fade under
Buyers are scouting out the produce and packing their chosen boxes of fruits and vegetable into their trucks. Distributor Michael D’Arrigo is standing behind a counter. He’s talking with one of his regular buyers, known as Lucky, about a shipment of oranges.
Sound: Lucky (customer) and Michael talking about what he wants. — fade under
D’Arrigo finishes up Lucky’s order and prints him a copy.
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D’Arrigo works for his family’s business, D’Arrigo Brothers. It’s one of the 42 wholesale distributors based out of Hunts Point. The proposed farmers market would essentially become the 43rd distributor. That’s OK with Matthew D’Arrigo, Michael’s brother and the co-president of the association that runs the market.
I personally I don’t think it would be a problem. I think the more the merrier.
Matthew D’Arrigo says some of the distributors aren’t happy with the idea of extra competition, but he says there is keen interest now in buying and selling local produce.
I think if we don’t incorporate it into a redeveloped market that it is going to be developed somewhere else and somewhere close to this market.
D’Arrigo also says it can be more cost effective to buy locally because of the high cost of fuel. That makes transporting small shipments of produce from upstate to the city expensive, because the farmers don’t have the quantity to make it worth their while.
Another supporter of the wholesale farmers market is The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.
The council’s attorney–Johanna Dyer–says the market would make Hunts Point more inviting.
It is kind of primarily set up for large distributor, large farms. For our small farms, they have found it daunting so far.
But Dyer adds that upstate farmers would have work to do. They’d have to aggregate their goods–and collaborate on packaging and processing to keep costs down.
I think the assumption and the hope that many of them would take the measure to sell some of their goods wholesale if there is an easier and more direct path for doing that.
Around 8 a.m., business at Hunts Point is dying down…and Matthew D’Arrigo is still making the rounds.
Sound: Matthew talking with someone …. ambi of market
About a handful of buyers are waiting outside of D’Arrigo’s office near the loading dock.
If the proposed farmers market is built here, it would be vying for some of D’Arrigo’s customers.
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He says the market is one year into a three year extension on its current lease. He hopes to see a decision about the redevelopment by 2014.
Mackenzie Issler, Columbia Radio news.