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Downtown On The Farm

City-dwellers relish the Union Square Greenmarket for its rural authenticity: You arrive late in the day knowing that farmers have driven three hours in the early morning to get there. But it turns out that a few of them have a much shorter commute. Here are three “farms” within the five boroughs.

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Greener Pastures
Stewart Borowsky grows his wheatgrass right near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn—but, luckily, given the canal’s odorific reputation, indoors, in his 2,400-square-foot loft, under 400-watt halide lights. Among those who drink the grass—which is 70 percent chlorophyll—in juice are health-food nuts, elderly Asian-Americans, and Rastafarians. (Lizards, rodents, and birds prefer to eat it.)
Distance to Union Square: 6.3 miles.

All Season Mushroom Farm
Judy Shen grew up watching her mother grow mushrooms in a straw hut in Taiwan. So when she moved here in 1999, she figured, Why not try it in Queens? In a two-floor, 3,000-square-foot College Point warehouse, Shen uses bags and humidifiers to grow hen-of-the-woods, shiitake, and king oysters. But she refuses to divulge her exact fungi-growing technique, because she says it’s really easy to do.
Distance to Union Square: 13.6 miles.

Berkshire Berries
David Graves has a farm in the Berkshires for his eggs and maple syrup and the like, but the rooftops of lower Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are where he collects his honey. Each hive contains up to 60,000 bees and produces 90 pounds of honey. One benefit of local honey: It supposedly wards off allergy symptoms because it contains traces of immunity-boosting local pollen.
Distance from Union Square to closest hive: across the street.


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