The East Boston Farmers Market, sponsored by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) returned to Central Square in East Boston last Thursday with more fresh, locally grown produce than ever before. Farmers will be at the selling fruits and vegetables every Thursday from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. through October 7.
Community Initiatives Coordinator at EBNHC Alison Smizer has led the effort to establish the market in Eastie over the past three years.
“We began with just two vendors in 2008,” said Smizer. “In 2010, thanks to the efforts of Eleanor Chandler, market manager, the market will triple in size to six vendors. Families in East Boston will find even more of their favorite fruit, vegetables, and herbs at the market this year.”
The local Farmers Market began when organizers at the health center’s Let’s Get Movin’ program asked how could they help families in the community increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets.
The market brings produce picked that day at Massachusetts’ farms to residents. The selection changes throughout the season, from lettuce and greens in early summer to apples and squashes in the fall.
At the Market, vendors feature produce important to the many cultures represented by the community.
Dave Dumanesq, also known as Farmer Dave and one of the original vendors at the market, tailors his offerings to the requests of his customers.
“We bring chiplin to East Boston because it is an important flavoring in many Salvadorian and other South American dishes,” he explained. “We also sell a lot of yierba mora, cranberry beans, and papalo. Whenever I have jilo, a kind of eggplant, my Brazilian customers often say they haven’t seen it since they left Brazil.”
With the arrival of new farmers to the market, including Pamuzinda Farm of Littleton, vegetables and herbs of Southeast Asia and Africa will be offered, including amaranth and collard greens. As the harvest continues, customers will also find tomatoes, corn, peppers, peaches, apples, cilantro, and basil, among other familiar crops.
Shopping at the Farmers Market is affordable. Families that qualify can use a range of vouchers and coupons to make fresh fruits and vegetables even easier to purchase.
SNAP/EBT participants can use their cards at the market and receive 50 percent off purchases up to $20, thanks to the Boston Bounty Bucks program sponsored by the Food Project and the City of Boston.
WIC participants can save in two ways with the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and with WIC Fruit & Vegetable vouchers.
The local Farmers Market is the only market in the city of Boston participating in this new nutrition voucher program.
The Market is also more than a source for healthy food. It is also a gathering place for the East Boston community.
Many residents come to shop but also to see neighbors and friends. Musical and educational events planned for the market this summer will attract more people from a wider area, and will be listed on the East Boston Farmers Market web page (www.ebnhc.org/FarmersMarket.php), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EBNHC) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/EBNHC).