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Andreana Bitsis

Get To Know Your Local Lilac Guy

In Search of a Greener New York is an ongoing Garden Collage series of explorations about sustainability efforts in New York City and beyond– including the people, places, and ideas that are making Manhattan a healthier, happier place to live. In this column, we spotlight individuals who are making New York a “greener” place in an attempt to discover how, exactly, they are doing it. This week, GC spotlights Tony– known at the Union Square Farmers Market as the lilac guy (with good reason!).

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“We have a special lilac section in the orchard– lots of variety, and we’ve been planting for many years,” says Tony, when we ask about his farm’s lilacs after seeing them last week at the Union Square Farmers Market. “Our farm is in the Hudson Valley (Poughkeepsie) and we have about seven varieties.”

“We have about 80 acres mostly dedicated to apples, but the lilacs grow well in concert with them. We also grow stone fruit– peaches and plums in the summer– which we use to make baked goods,” he says, gesturing to some early-season apple turnovers. “We started growing different varieties of apples in response to consumer demand from young people– the empires, the winesap varieties, etcetera…so what we grow keeps changing over time. It’s an evolution.”

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Andreana Bitsis

“I never had an interest in working on the farm– it was just a second job that I took 12 years ago, but now I really enjoy it; especially in the summer when the peaches and plums are out,” he says with a conspiratorial wink and a laugh, “That’s the best part”.

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