The Beat to My Life

by Nicole Tucker

I grew up in New York City, but didn’t really experience the Greenmarket until I had gone away and returned again. I left the city to get a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture, and upon my return I started working for a famous firm on 13th and University, right below the Union Square Greenmarket. I found myself there at least once a week, stocking up on goodies to cart uptown to my 1 bedroom apartment in the building I had grown up in.

A couple years later I moved to a different firm, this time overlooking Union Square. I shopped every single day the market was open, arriving early to get the choicest picks. I loved these trips so much I started giving a “Greenmarket Report” to some of my colleagues so they would know what was in its prime that week. From those chats, three of us decided to start a blog where we’d post pictures of our Greenmarket finds, discuss who had the best bargains, and share the occasional recipe. We posted under pseudonyms. I was “baconbit,” and my colleagues were “dairyqueen” and “beingreen.” Eventually they stopped posting, but I kept doing it.

In 2008 I got married, and one day I went over to Tremblay Apiaries to talk to them about honey for mead. I was teaching my new husband how to brew, and he said we should make anniversary mead to drink every year to celebrate. I asked if there was any way to know what honey had been made by the bees during a specific month. We had gotten married in July and now it was August. The gentleman at Tremblay said to return in 3 months time and he’d have the honey from the flowers of July.

In November, I went by the stand and bought a 12 lb jar of Raspberry & Rose Flower honey. One of the Tremblay workers asked me what it was for and I told him it was for my anniversary mead. They were so pleased; they sold me the honey at a steep discount. I promised them a bottle to say thanks.

A year later, I came back with a bottle for Tremblay, and my new baby strapped to my chest. I was a month pregnant with my son the week I bought the honey. We had fermented the mead using the same yeast that’s used for Riesling wine, and while my child grew, the wine fermented. Beautiful mead resulted — golden, with a hint of sweetness, which brought out the honey’s flavors beautifully. My child was born in July, a couple of days before our first anniversary. His disposition was sweet, and his hair a mess of honey colored curls.

Every year, on our anniversary, we drink a bottle of our mead. We started out with 60 bottles, and between the one we gave to Tremblay as thanks, and 8 years of marriage, we are now down to 51.

At the time that I made the mead, and had the blog, I never thought I’d end up working for GrowNYC and the Greenmarkets. But in 2013, I found myself looking for work for the first time in a long time, and I applied to become a Greenmarket market manager. Later still, I began to run the Fresh Food Box program for GrowNYC.

The Greenmarkets have not only nourished me in times of need, and employed me, but have set a beat to my life, a kind of theme tune. I was born in 1973, and there’s never been a time in my life when the Greenmarket has not existed. The farmers at Union Square, and now the farmers at Greenmarket Co, have nourished my family week in and week out for years on end. Their honey has become our wine, with which we toast our lives, and the life we are building. I have made friends here and helped change people’s lives for the better. What a gift to be part of this beautiful place! (And the food is really good too!)

Want to learn more about GrowNYC and our $40 for 40 campaign? Visit http://www.grownyc.org/blog/greenmarket-40-40.