The Grainstand, a former GrowNYC Food Access and Agriculture program, operated from 2015-2021, with the mission of supporting the development of a regional small grain economy in the Northeast by bridging the gap to provide market access to both producers and consumers. The Grainstand operated a series of retail stands at GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets with operations in four of the five boroughs. It served as a test marketer, aggregator and reseller of regional grains, beans, and seed oils.
Small grains, which include wheat, barley, oat, and rye, play an important role in crop rotations. The addition of small grains to crop rotation can lessen environmental impacts through a reduction of fertilizer use, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel use. Small, local grains may have more interesting flavor profiles and more distinct tastes than industrially-grown and processed grain.3 Furthermore, the impacts of small, whole grains on the health of consumers (e.g. lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes) make them an important component of a nutritious diet as well. The GrowNYC Grainstand contributed to the local small grain economy of the Northeast by providing marketing support and points of access as a pathway to reach individual and wholesale consumers.
In partnership with the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, GrowNYC conducted an evaluation of the GrowNYC Grainstand to build understanding of client purchasing patterns, grain knowledge, and motivations for shopping at the Grainstand. The evaluation also aimed to generate insight into the market potential of organic small grains and identify barriers to market growth.