Queer-owned booths at Union Square help serve holiday feasts

Runner & Stone booth at Union Square
Runner & Stone employees Alty Moran Charles Collyard at their Union Square booth.
Heather Cassell

New York’s LGBTQ families can shop queer and local booths serving up fabulous holiday meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa this year at Union Square’s Greensmarket.

Every week there are about five queer-owned booths offering everything from fresh produce and cheese to bread and dessert.

Gay City News talked with several queer business owners who have booths at Union Square Greenmarket about the importance of the market, their businesses, and what they have to offer to make a holiday feast.

Serving up the holidays

These queer booths have options for people looking to dress up holiday tables and parties.

Runner & Stone — led by gay co-owner and head baker Peter Endriss and ally chef Chris Pizzulli — has everything for a festive feast. Options range from dinner to dessert, like holiday tarts and cookies, ready to order online or at the stand and available to pick up at their Brooklyn store for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We have two pretty full holiday menus for Thanksgiving and then for the Christmas holiday,” said Endriss, whose booth is at the market on Saturdays.

City Saucery, a Brooklyn-based sauce and condiment company, has been a hit at the market since Michael Marino and his husband, Jorge Moret, opened their first stand there in 2015. The pair uses centuries-old family recipes from Calabria, Italy, brought by Marino’s mother, Carolina Marino — a local chef celebrity in her own right — when the family immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. The sauces are incredibly fresh, and customers receive $1 off their next purchase when they return the jars to the saucery for repackaging.

City Saucery booth with Jorge Moret
City Saucery co-founder Jorge Moret selling jars of fresh tomato sauces at the Union Square Greenmarket booth.Heather Cassell

City Saucery partnered with GrowNYC during the company’s rebranding and was placed at Union Square about six years ago. The couple launched City Saucery with Marino’s mother in 2011. The product is available in specialty stores and Whole Foods across the US, as well as online and at the market.

City Saucery also has features mother’s popular Italian Turkey recipe, said Marino, whose booth is at the market every Wednesday and Saturday.

Rise & Root Farm is only at Union Square Greensmarket on Fridays, said co-owner and head baker Michael Hayes-Hodge. The queer farm has had its stand at the market since 2015, the same year the farm was founded and harvested its first crop. Stop by the stand for your fruit and vegetables to be the star of your holiday dish or accompany your dishes and desserts for festive tables and parties.

Michaela Hayes-Hodge, co-owner of Rise & Root Farm
Michaela Hayes-Hodge, co-owner of Rise & Root Farm, at the Union Square Greenmarket booth.Heather Cassell

Another option is to pick up cheese for charcuterie plates, appetizers, and cheesy holiday dishes on Saturdays at transgender-owned and operated Moxie Ridge Farm.

Out at the market

Being located so close to New York’s historic gayborhoods makes it easier to attract a global audience — and having booths at an LGBTQ-welcoming farmers market is an added benefit, queer stand owners said.

“It’s refreshing to see members of the LGBTQ community here running a farm or like a food-producing company,” Marino said.

“The whole world comes here,” added Marino, who explained that there are customers from Asia, Europe, and other areas of the globe.

Hayes-Hodge added that “representation matters.”

“I feel like it’s important that the profession of farming is as diverse as the community of people who eat the food,” said Hayes-Hodge, who founded the BIPOC queer farm in the Hudson Valley with her wife, Jane Hayes-Hodge, and their friends, Lorrie Clevenger and Karen Washington, in 2015.

Endriss agreed and pointed to the level of comfort and quality at the market.

“It’s great,” he said, especially compared to the 1980s when being gay was “very much an issue.”

“What is wonderful about is that I don’t even think about it anymore,” he said. “I think the best outcome you can achieve is that it’s not an issue anymore.”

He doesn’t worry about his queer employees being treated badly because the market feels like it is “a really safe positive space for them to be who they are, which is such an added bonus.”