On Wednesdays, We Go to the Botans


The New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) is a staple to Fordham students and New York residents alike. (Courtesy of Ava Carreiro/The Fordham Ram)

You can’t say you attended Fordham University without visiting the New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG). Commonly known by many students as “the botans,” this 250-acre garden is filled with vibrant plants, flowers and art exhibits. It is also home to popular seasonal events such as the winter holiday train show and Fall-O-Ween. The best part? It’s located directly across from the Rose Hill campus’ front gates, at 2900 Southern Boulevard. Also, all current Fordham students gain free entry to the gardens with a valid student ID.

One of the Botanical Gardens’ most popular seasonal events is currently in full swing. Every Wednesday from June 1 to Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the NYBG farmers market is open and ready for visitors. This isn’t just any farmers market we’re talking about — the NYBG farmers market was voted one of the top 10 in NYC by TimeOut New York. It features some of the best produce vendors and specialty food purveyors in the area, and it isn’t something you want to miss.

Last week, I visited the NYBG farmers market for the very first time as part of an event with the Fordham Health and Wellness club. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since I hadn’t heard of it before. Still, I had no doubt that the Botanical Gardens would perform — and I certainly wasn’t let down.

I approached the line of stands both hungry and thirsty — the best state to enter a farmers market in. There’s no need to grab breakfast before visiting the NYBG farmers market when you can choose from a variety of fresh, hot breakfast burritos once you’re there. I bought a bottle of fresh-squeezed lemonade with a splash of watermelon and found myself repeatedly visiting a bagel vendor. Growing up in New Jersey has led me to become quite uncompromising when choosing a good bagel, but even I was pleasantly surprised by what the farmers market had to offer.

A comprehensive list of the market’s vendors can be found on the NYBG website, but I’ll outline a few that caught my eye. Wave Hill Breads, based in Norwalk, Conn., specializes in a wide range of whole grain artisan breads and pastries. You can’t fully enjoy bread without oil, so you can make your way over to Arlotta Food Studio, a New York based company that offers infused organic olive oils with either garlic, red pepper, lemon or blood orange. Afterwards, you should make a visit to Anthi’s Greek Specialties, where you can choose from a variety of delicious, authentic Greek dishes such as tzatziki and moussaka. The farmers market also offers cuisine from True Food of    Nyack, which sells a wide variety of meals such as salads and burritos — all locally made, of course.

If you’re not particularly hungry while visiting the farmers market, that’s okay! There’s more than enough stands for you to visit that aren’t food-related. I recommend heading over to Myriad Mirage, which offers unique, handcrafted jewelry and artwork made by artist Ginamarie Engels. You can also visit Ash Hopper Soap, a family business based in Hudson Valley, N.Y. that sells handcrafted soap made with sustainably-sourced ingredients. Some weeks, there’s even a clothing stand offering unique, beautiful blouses and accessories to browse through. Freshly Made Juices, a juice and smoothie business, was founded by two women from the Bronx. On the topic of the Bronx, Boogie Down Bronx Honey brings 100% pure, natural and raw honey straight to the NYBG farmers market. One of my favorite parts about the farmers market is how it can help benefit local businesses.

As a Fordham student, I find it crucial to use my four years here in a way that positively impacts the local community around me. Although I feel like Fordham is my home, it’s necessary to acknowledge that in my four years on campus and in the Bronx, I am existing in someone else’s home. Respecting and giving back to the beautiful, vibrant Bronx community can be displayed in many different forms. Although the NYBG farmers market shouldn’t be the only way to support local businesses in the surrounding Fordham community, it’s certainly a great place to start.

The NYBG farmers market is a great way to kick off the fall season while eating healthy and supporting local small businesses. Perhaps you’ll pass by on an early morning garden jog, or you’ll take a trip with your friends to explore the area. Whatever the reason may be, if you find yourself near the botans this fall, visiting the farmers market is a must.