Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Young & Green: Santos on East Harlem, Its History, and Sautéed Spinach

You’re reading Young & Green, the new group blog written by participants of GrowNYC’s Youthmarket. This network of urban farm stands is operated by neighborhood youth, supplied by local farmers, and supplies communities throughout NYC with fresh fruits and veggies. Pretty cool, huh?


East Harlem’s La Marqueta has lived through many reincarnations over the years, both positive and less so. Santos Rivera, who managed the El Barrio Youthmarket there last season, sees its potential to transform the community. In his own words:

"What makes La Marqueta a unique and special market is the unity of the neighborhood. Even if you do not reside in the neighborhood, walking through it gives you a very at-home and pleasant feeling. People greet you, smile and welcome you to a beautiful neighborhood with a very rich culture and history. The older folks love to inform you of how things used to be. La Marqueta was once a central hub for everything from fresh poultry and fish to fruits and vegetables, as well as a gathering place for all the local residents.

"This past summer I had the honor of managing our Youthmarket farm stand at this location, and it was an incredible experience. Not only were we accepted by the community, we were genuinely appreciated as a building block toward its rebirth. The stand provided a lot of potential for future growth in a neighborhood currently considered a food desert. With the right amount of outreach, the market can be one of the best."

We loved his perspective so much, we asked him a few more questions.

What’s your favorite fruit or veggie that you tried for the first time while working at the market? Your least favorite?

Butternut squash. It’s versatile and delicious. I’m not so crazy about beets. Red or golden.

What’s your favorite easy meal and how long does it take to prepare?

Something I actually learned from one of our cooking demos and fell in love with is sautéed spinach with garlic, olive oil, and cut-up apples. Jonagold works the best. It is delicious and ready in about 10 minutes.


Has the market changed what you eat? How?

It most definitely has. Not only do I eat much healthier than I used to, I’ve experienced and learned about new and exciting vegetables I never thought to look twice at, like any kind of squash.


Has the market affected your future job plans? How?

Yes, not only did I fall in love with what GrowNYC/Greenmarket does, I also fell in love with my positions, the people (staff and customers), and would love to stay within the company, growing alongside it, for many, many years to come.

What’s the most important question you think customers at the market should ask?

They should definitely be asking about the local farms we are supporting. It gives the farms and farmers recognition and also sheds light on a variety of things: the freshness of their produce, their history, our goals and purpose, and why buying local is better.


What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about working for Youthmarket?

DO IT!! You will have a lot of fun, meet great and exciting people, and learn so much about fruits, vegetables, health, farms, the history of New York, and so much more.


• Get to know Hassaballah

• Meet Danny and read his food diary

• Also say hi to Dekendra

• and Phylisha



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