By John Lynds
The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s Farmers Market returns for its 10th season today (Wednesday, June 5) at 3 p.m. with fresh, locally-grown produce, and other healthy and locally-sourced products. The booths will be behind the Maverick MBTA station (at Lewis Mall) selling fruits and vegetables today from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. and every Wednesday through October 18.
Each year, the Farmers Market at Maverick sees more and more new customers and a variety of vendors both old and new. Each week there are special activities like Zumba, music, and bike safety lessons to bring attention to the Farmers Market and get more people to participate in the annual tradition.
With many residents in Eastie coming from different places and bringing many different tastes, the Farmers Market has become an excellent source for many unique greens, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
“East Boston is a richly diverse community with roots in Latin America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Over the years, our vendors have responded to community members’ requests for food that reflects their traditions,” said Gabrielle Witham, market manager and community initiatives program coordinator at EBNHC. “While our vendors do bring New England favorites like tomatoes, corn, and summer squashes, and juicy peaches, apples, and berries, they also cultivate hierba mora, water spinach, chipilÍn, cilantro, basil, and more. Our vendors are proud of the crops that they bring, and are always willing to share a recipe or tips for cooking. We encourage folks to try something new this season, whether it be romanesco, kohlrabi, or a different kind of kale. Eating produce that is fresh and locally grown means enjoying the flavors that nature intended at their peak nutritional value.”
Eastie’s 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’s farms to Eastie. 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.
This year participating farms and vendors include, Asia Farm, Del Sur Empanadas, the Eagle Hill Coffee Company, Farmer Dave’s, Meadowbrook Orchards, and Shepherd Farm.
For a second year in a row the Farmers Market will include the Veronica Robles Cultural Center. The Cultural Center will perform “Dancing Elotes”.
Dancing Elotes is a tribute to life and joyful youthful spirits. The project will include a bike-cart selling elotes, traditionally prepared corn served on the street in Mexico, as a literal and conceptual vehicle for cross-cultural culinary, dance and sculptural experiences at the Farmers Market.
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 customers receive a 100 percent incentive (a dollar-for-dollar match up to $40-$80, depending on household size) for each SNAP dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables purchased at farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
WIC also supports farmers as well as good nutrition through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and plans to distribute this year’s WIC Fruit and Vegetable coupons on July 12, which can be redeemed at the East Boston Farmers Market.
“The Market is also more than a source for healthy food,” said Steven Snyder, Vice President of Development at EBNHC. “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 Facebook page, www.ebnhc.org/Farmers’Market.php.