East Harlem’s 20,000-square-foot Urban Garden Center is nicely situated, quite literally, on Park Avenue: on a median separating the north- and south-bound lanes sheltered by the Metro North train tracks. Inside, all the accoutrements one would expect from a well-stocked garden center — organic fertilizer, orchids, succulents, herbs, an impressive selection of glazed pots — are offered for sale next to old records, vintage luggage, and back issues of National Geographic. At the corner of 117th and Park, kids from the neighborhood feed chewed-up corncobs to the shop’s chickens through the chain-link fence. Behind the coop is a big barbecue pit, El Boar-rio Lechonera, home to the semi-regular Saturday pig roast usually put on by local Korean outfit Harlem Seoul. Owner Dimitri Gatanas says there are plans for a Greek-style taverna-night lamb roast, and a western barbecue too. On Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the garden center hosts Youthmarket, a farmstand stocked by the same farmers who sell at other New York greenmarkets, but staffed by teens who live in the neighborhood.
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