Fresh and locally-grown produce is no longer just a nutritional choice for middle-class families. This fall, Harvest Home Farmer's Market, a non-profit organization that operates 16 open-air farmer's markets throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx, won a $92,000 USDA grant to expand the use of food stamps at new and existing markets.
"It has been a challenge providing access to farm-fresh produce to New York City communities in need," according to Maritza Wellington Owens, founder of Harvest Home, who says that the grant will now allow them to increase community outreach and develop culturally-appropriate marketing strategies to expand the group's customer base. The grant will also fund programming that teaches community residents about the health benefits of farm-fresh foods and how to prepare them.
The first of these programs, Thanksgrowing, took place on November 18 at the East Harlem Farmer's Market on 104th Street. The event celebrated the grant win and honored the winning fifth grade class of the Harvest Home Pens, Pumpkins and P.S. 72 Poster Contest for creating the poster that best conveyed the importance of the farmer's market in the East Harlem community. Attendees were treated to a salad dressing demonstration and a Thanksgiving meal using only local farmer produce and prepared by Chef Dan Kohler. "Eating the meal prepared from the seasonal produce available at the market was an experience the children will surely remember," said Antonio Hernandez, principal at P.S. 72. "Harvest Home Farmer's Market in each community should be a special gathering center where residents can shop for nutritious food, participate in activities and education programs, and spend time with friends and neighbors," said Owens.
For more information about Harvest Home Farmer's Market and a list of locations, visit www.harvesthomefm.org.