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"A Time To Plant", Brooklyn-Style

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 22, 2020 18:19

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I made my first trip this year to the venerable Brooklyn Terminal Market to buy plants. Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted it?

"A time to plant..." is a phrase from Ecclesiastes (Kohelet, in Hebrew), one of my favorite Old Testament books. And, yes, it's mid May and time for me to make my first annual visit to the Brooklyn Terminal Market. Each year I drive over at least twice to buy flowers, herbs and vegetables to plant in our garden and various pots around the house. This is a tradition I first experienced with my dad, who always enjoyed going here to this no-nonsense, very Brooklyn spot.

This is not an elegant market, and in all the times I've shopped at this wholesale gardening and food market, I've rarely encountered the hip Brooklynites who are all about artisanal and curated. Am I being snarky? Yeah. This is a place where people who run gardening services and restaurants, and average citizens in-the-know, go for value-priced plants throughout the year.

I went today, certain that the last of the spring cold snaps had passed through. I went to one of the old-school gardening sellers (there are a few, including old-timers Pagano, Visconti, and Lapide) and bought flats and small pots of marigolds, coleus, two types of parsley, begonias, bags of top soil and a trowel. There is plenty of car parking here but you have to drive around, and you will compete with trucks big and small, forklifts and other vehicles. You can grab a shopping cart and check out the wares, and find lots of good deals.

This is the first time I went during the Time of Social Distancing, and everyone wore a mask, from customers to salespeople to drivers. I chatted casually (and from a few feet away) with a few customers, and one even thought I was a worker.

When I come to the Market, I always think about my dad, who would accompany me here for years. When he sold the family home and bought an apartment near my house, he became our de facto gardener. Gardening was one of his hobbies, and my mom had enjoyed it too. Dad and I would come to the Market with one or both of my daughters in tow when they were little. He would laugh while they nosed around and wandered about (but not too far from us) and we would discuss the quality and size of various plants.

Dad has been gone since 2011; what would he make of the COVID conditions, social distancing, and wearing a mask over his mouth? He was a practical guy, and I recall him wearing plastic goggles when he did painting or woodwork. He was a safety-minded man.

Dad, with his thick Brooklyn accent, referred to the Market as the "Foster Avenue Market," (or "Fawstuh Avenue") and it is built along Foster and runs for several streets in the East 80s. I still enjoy going here, and it's definitely a Brooklyn spring tradition for me.

And now it has masks. Come on over, give a look. 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 22, 2020 18:19

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Photo documentation of Williamsburg, Brooklyn during the Covid-19 pandemic

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