You May Also Like

coffee antioxidants

Ever wonder what all those antioxidants in your coffee actually do?

marathon training without carbs

How to marathon train without eating a ton of carbs

Get yuzu fruit in Trader Joe's new sparkling coconut water

Get an energizing splash of an Asian superfruit in Trader Joe’s new sparkling coconut water

How to make a healthy smoothie? Load up on veggies

The main ingredient in your smoothie actually shouldn’t be fruit, says one all-star dietitian

healthiest fast food burger

If you’re going to get a fast-food burger, choose one of these antibiotic-free options

The Ayurvedic reason to eat roasted celery all winter long

The Ayurvedic reason to eat roasted celery all winter long

Catching up with Union Square’s “Grassman”


Meet the wheatgrass savant who ABC Cocina and Per Se have on speed dial.
1/6
Grassman 1

Stewart Borowsky sells his grass out of a yellow school bus parked in New York City’s Union Square. And no, it’s not that kind of grass.

Borowsky (AKA the “Union Square Grassman“) sells his famed wheatgrass, as well as sunflower, pea, buckwheat, and radish greens to an all-star roster of devotees, like ABC Cocina, Jivamukti Cafe, and Per Se every week at the (you guessed it) Union Square Greenmarket. Those sunflower sprouts that have helped make ABC Kitchen’s roasted carrot salad the salad of the moment? Thank Borowsky.

We got a chance to quiz this unassuming groundbreaker—who was peddling wheatgrass before places like Juice Press, Juice Generation, and Organic Avenue were even in diapers—about what it’s like to be a pioneering urban farmer and this city’s juice scene. —Jamie McKillop

(Photos: Jamie McKillop for Well+Good)

 

Get Started
2/6
Grassman 2You were so ahead of the curve—how’d you get into urban wheatgrass farming?

From 1989 to 1993 I worked as a truck driver, but I was feeling unfulfilled, so I drove out west to “find myself.” I ended up working on an organic peach farm in Northern California. It really opened my eyes to the rewards of farming and the amazing beauty of a properly grown food that tastes good and that nourishes you.

I drove back to New York, moved upstate, and found work on a fish farm, as well as with a big sprout grower. I started growing wheatgrass and sprouts, and in 1995 I moved to a farmhouse in Sullivan County and started my own business. I was fortunate to get a spot at the Union Square Greenmarket, and the business took off right away. In 1999, I rented a warehouse space in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn and began transitioning the farm down here.

 

3/6
Grassman 3Your sunflower sprouts—crunchy, germinated sunflower seeds—are so yummy and unique. What’s your secret? 

We use a superior variety of certified organic seeds and grow the sunflowers in soil so they’re crisp, not soggy. We harvest them at the market, to provide the freshest possible product (they keep a week after harvest).

We’ve been selling to ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina since 2010. They buy our sunflower greens and pea shoots for the carrot salad and other dishes. When Dan Kluger puts us on his menu, that’s the best feedback of all. We’ve also sold the sunflower greens to Per Se, but I’m not clear on what they used them for.

 

4/6
Grassman 4When do you think the green juice craze really took off? 

I’d say five or six years ago. It was always present, but the appearance in pop culture—Sex And The City, Iron Man, and, I suppose, plenty of other media—really heralded the arrival of juice trucks and carts, as well as healthy juice deliveries and chain stores. The popularity of green juice has brought many incidental customers—tourists and travelers—to our table. It has raised awareness.

 

5/6
Grassman 5Urban farming has become an increasingly big deal as well, but it wasn’t when you started, right? 

I don’t believe that anyone else was urban farming in New York City [when I started]. There were a few non-profits, like Queens County Farm Museum, which operated a field farm near Douglaston, and John Bowne High School, possibly one of several schools with gardens or greenhouses….

Now there are quite a few for-profit farming ventures, as well as businesses, like restaurant gardens and rooftop greenhouses for large grocery chains. The urban farming trend has benefited from all the interest in local produce—a yearning for accessible pastoral.

Union Square Grassman, Union Square Green Market, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. 

For more information, visit www.unionsquaregrassman.com

 

6/6
littlebeet-1079

More Reading

First Taste Report: Franklin Becker’s The Little Beet
Amanda Cohen dishes on the new Dirt Candy
8 New York City restaurants that grow their own food

 

Loading More Posts...

You May Also Like

marathon training without carbs

How to marathon train without eating a ton of carbs

Keto PSA: You've probably been using a cheese grater wrong your entire life

I’ve been using a cheese grater the wrong way my entire life

How to make a healthy smoothie? Load up on veggies

The main ingredient in your smoothie actually shouldn’t be fruit, says one all-star dietitian

high fiber smoothie recipes

8 super-filling smoothie recipes to help you live that high-fibe life

Is having a vegan pregnancy diet healthy? We asked a nutritionist

Is it healthy to stick to a vegan diet when you’re pregnant?

Get yuzu fruit in Trader Joe's new sparkling coconut water

Get an energizing splash of an Asian superfruit in Trader Joe’s new sparkling coconut water