jessica kane union square farmer's market follow the girl manhattan

There’s nothing quite like Springtime and as our city girls prove, there’s no better way to bask in the city sun than in our beloved NYC. This week’s featured city girl Jessica Kane really embodies this, and our recent trip to the Union Square Farmer’s Market together reawakened our love and appreciation for a little bit of nature in the concrete jungle. We love how Jessica takes full advantage of all the city has to offer (no matter the weather) and today she’s sharing a few tips and tricks on how to incorporate a little bit more of the outdoors in your off-duty adventures. In her third diary entry Jessica shares more on why she loves the farmer’s market, her go-to shopping list and a few (but necessary) hacks on how to beat the weekend brunch crowd…

jessica kane union square farmer's market follow the girl manhattan

So as you obviously know, Union Square is generally a buzzing area. It can be exhausting! But how do you think the neighborhood changes when the farmer’s market/Spring season starts up? And when buying fresh produce, be honest – how much of it ends up actually being used and how much ends up sadly wilted in the bottom of the fridge? How often do you really cook?

This area comes alive when the first signs of warm weather hit. Even though the farmer’s market is year-round, there’s almost a rebirth at the beginning of spring. I love watching it through each season, because the die-hards will endure the frigid winter to get their fresh flowers or produce straight from a farm. My boyfriend and I genuinely love to cook, so practically nothing goes to waste in our apartment. I pack my lunch every day and we tend to make our own dinner four nights per week. Because I’m not picky, I’m prone to throwing together dinners with the most random array of ingredients simply because I want to use whatever is in my fridge when it’s fresh.

jessica kane union square farmer's market follow the girl manhattan

Oh that’s so refreshing to hear! So break it down for us: What’s typically on your farmer’s market grocery list and do you have any tips on how to shop it/get the best bang for your buck? What’s typically ALWAYS on your list and what do you like to indulge in?

My list generally includes milk (I swear it tastes better from a bottle than a carton), jam, honey, maple cream and when they’re in season I grab berries, squash, mushrooms, rainbow carrots, basil and other fresh herbs. I also have a weakness for colorful bouquets of flowers. To navigate the market, I have the Union Square Greenmarket app on my phone that lists what’s in peak season and which vendors are there each day. My favorite find so far has been Ronnybrook Farm’s coffee milk. It’s like liquid coffee ice cream.

jessica kane union square farmer's market follow the girl manhattan

That all sounds lovely – speaking of which, we just love how Spring is a time for romance! We fall in love with NYC time and time again (especially when we can see and FEEL the sun!) How has attending farmer’s markets or spending time outside/with nature re-inspired your love for life in NYC?

I love finding pockets of nature in this (sometimes) all-too-gray city. It’s extremely calming, especially since I grew up in sunny and green California. Having the skyscrapers and parks at my disposal is a gift that I don’t take for granted, but a few peaceful moments in Union Square Park, Tompkins Square Park or (if I’m feeling adventurous) Central Park are always refreshing. I love to run outdoors but find it tough to motivate myself to spend an hour weaving through the city streets. So I run on the Hudson River to log some miles on the water. I feel an instant connection to other New Yorkers who are basking in the sun on the lawn or speeding by me on the bike path — we have something in common. We love New York, but can acknowledge one of its biggest flaws: A lack of nature. And we’re all doing our best to work around it.

In terms of “working around it” walk us through your ideal day strolling outside and around the neighborhood…

Go-to coffee spot: The food cart on my corner. The woman working is incredibly kind, knows my order and it only costs $1. Three for three.

Cute stores: Union Square is touristy for the most part. Strand Bookstore, NU New York and Cure Thrift Shop are some of my favorites.

Best practices for farmer’s market: Ask the vendors questions, Google what produce is in season and give yourself plenty of time to explore.

Hacks for beating the brunch crowd: There are two options: arrive before 11 a.m., or brunch with no more than one other person. Otherwise, waiting an hour (or more) for brunch is an inevitability.

Jessica’s Diary: March 22, 2016, 9:46PM – This ongoing list I have on my phone of restaurants, bakeries and shops to try is starting to get overwhelmingly long. It seems like every day I hear about a new spot I “HAVE to try” and I need a way to prioritize them. My favorite way to connect with people is over a great meal, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to reach out to friends that I haven’t caught up with — and find out which of those places really live up to the hype.

Come back tomorrow as we join Jessica for a coffee break at an East Village favorite…

Photos by Bridget Badore for OVERT NYC