Greenmarket: Meet the Kings of Rexcroft Farm

rexcroft zuchs_jubBy Joan Jubela

For more than thirteen years, Dan and Nate King of Rexcroft Farms have been a staple of the park’s Wednesday greenmarket. Seventh generation farmers, their ancestors named the farm Rexcroft, meaning “King farm” in Dutch. In spring, pansies and other bedding plants signal the start of the growing season; followed by a cornucopia of fresh vegetables that continues until autumn’s gourds and pumpkins. Then in December, holiday garlands and wreaths end the year with a glorious finale.

Whatever is in season, Rexcroft Farms is likely to have it, hand-picked and farm-fresh: a summer fest of vegetables, lettuces and greens – from bok choi to arugula–peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, cauliflowers, zucchini and zucchini flowers in abundance. If they don’t offer it, just ask—it might be added to next year’s crops.

“We consider requests from people, and if I’m going to grow it, I’ll grow a lot,” says Dan. Each item is grown based on market demand. If their stand at Hammarskjold Plaza is a measure, the demands of multi-cultural consumers run the gambit from kale to callaloo, “A wonderful summer spinach” says Dan, available from July to early September, and then again in late fall. Popular in the Caribbean, callaloo refers to the dish and its main ingredient, a leafy green vegetable, in this case, amaranth

Herbs also abound: the scent of basil, Tuscan, sweet, Thai, cinnamon and lemon varieties, wafts through the market, suggesting both traditional and exotic versions of pesto. More than 20 others herbs, including sage, dill, thyme and mint are available. Epazote, an herb popular in Mexican and Spanish dishes, possesses a minty lemon flavor. Papalo, also prevalent in Central and South American cooking, has a piquant flavor that hints of cilantro and citrus. It often accompanies fresh papaya and is included in fish dishes, salsas and guacamole, but with a stronger bouquet than true cilantro, chefs add only about a one-third as much.

As summer ripens, so do the tomatoes, harvested from Rexcroft’s 8,000 plants. Bushels of freshly picked corn make the plaza feel like country.

I peer at the purslane, a semi-succulent green used in salads. With small leaves and tender stems, purslane can also be sautéed, just don’t overcook it. One shopper, picking up a bunch, says she gently parboils it in salt water.

“It’s a weed to some people,” says Dan. “Purslane was growing in our cornfields, and it would get tangled in the equipment, but I noticed that some of the workers helping me pick, were eating it. They convinced me to try some; it was delicious.” These days, Rexcroft Farm cultivates purslane and routinely brings it to market.

The King family is committed to sustainable farming. “We follow organic pest control practices as much as possible. We use beneficial insects and OMRI (organic materials research institute) approved products,” Dan says.

The Kings’ ancestors began as small produce farmers on fertile land along the Hudson River in Greene County near Athens, New York. Their grandfather started the dairy operation back when New York State was a major dairy producer. Dan and Nate turned to vegetable farming after a doctor advised their father to take better care of his heart. “Dairy is the roughest agri-business there is… and I grew up milking cows so I knew I didn’t want to do that,” says Dan. He started growing hydroponic tomatoes after attending an informational session at SUNY-Delhi about NYC farmers’ markets. Today, the family farm consists of 300 acres with fields of vegetables, greenhouses, beef pastures, hay fields and woodlots.

CAPTION: Alfredo Martinez has worked at Rexcroft Farms for more than a decade. He, and his two sons, Mike and Joseph, set out from Greene County in upstate New York at 3 am to arrive at Dag Hammarskjold by 6 to set-up for the market on this Wednesday in late July.


Winter Decorations Keep the Park Green


A walk through Dag Hammarskjold Plaza reveals a winter wonderland, with lighted fir trees in the fountains and spruce boughs decorating the lamp-post baskets. The garden shed is decorated with a big wreath, and during December, park visitors admire the lighted fir tree traditionally placed in the entrance dome at  Second Avenue.

SPONSORS:  Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza thank  Sage Realty and the Kaufman Organization for their generous support of the fountain and lamppost decor during the winter season and the Turtle Bay Association for sponsoring the big fir tree in the entrace dome.


Greenmarket Thriving

  • Open Wednesdays, year-round
  • Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Textile Recycling (Clothing) 8:00 a.m. to  3:00 p.m.
  • Compost Collection 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • EBT/Food Stamps and WIC & FMNP checks, debit/credit accepted.

A great selection of sustainably raised meats: beef, pork, chicken, fresh and smoked fish, as well as glass bottled milk and  farmstead cheeses are available at this popular market featuring our regional farmers along with cooking demos, seasonal celebrations, and family-friendly activities. 

Farmers Attending Year Round:

  • DiPaola Turkeys: Turkey from Mercer County, NJ
  • Millport Dairy: Cheddar cheese from Lancaster County, PA
  • Pura Vida Fisheries: Wild-caught fish and seafood from Suffolk County,NY
  • Rexcroft Farms: Vegetables, plants and meats from Greene County, NY
  • Ronnybrook Farm: Dairy Milk, yogurt, and butter from Columbia County, NY
  • Samascott Orchards: Orchard fruit, vegetables, cider and eggs from Columbia County, NY