Farm to Concrete Jungle: Eggplants in the City

The purple sheen of eggplants caught my eye, tumbled in a bin, juxtaposed against the traffic of Columbus and 79th.

eggplants in NYC

These aubergines, as they’re known in British English, hailed from Kernan Farms in Cumberland County, New Jersey. Gleaming in the sun, they rested beneath the farm’s sign that gave them away as Jersey, bridge & tunnel visitors to the city.

Everyone in NYC has a dream, right? A story of why they’re there, why they’ve stayed, and what they plan to do. I envisioned a Pixar-like storyline for these veggies: growing up on a small farm, hustled onto a truck, and making the trek to the city that never sleeps. I hope they planned to be delicious ratatouille, or to be stuffed with artisanal cheeses, because that’s what I had planned for them.

It was my first taste of New York City, and it didn’t disappoint. Known for bustling traffic, a sea of diverse humanity streaming through city streets, cabs honking, people shopping, a history of cultivating writers, dancers, and performers of every breed, including that man painted in silver sitting on the subway bench. And? Farmer’s markets and farm to table eateries, serving fresh veggies and meat sourced from the bucolic farms just north of the city.

I was excited to visit Central Park, that oasis of green and water and growth in the midst of cement, cinder block and asphalt. Arriving in late October, the leaves were just starting to flame in yellows, oranges, and fiery reds.

central park

Stepping outside the park onto the streets of the upper west side, we stumbled upon a sidewalk farmer’s market, bins full of apples and root vegetables reminding us, along with the changing leaves, that fall has arrived.

How will you eat your eggplant this fall? Do you plan to plant them for next season? According to Organic Gardening, these nightshades need warm growing conditions for three months. Check out their site for tips on starting them indoors, or planting them in raised beds, which heat up fast in the spring. And share your favorite aubergine recipes with us here or on Twitter, @RebeccaSnavely and @TheCityFarm!