Farmers’ Market Wheels Onto Winchester
by Allan Appel | Aug 27, 2012 2:04 pm
Posted to: Food, Newhallville
The tomatoes Terry Chapman grows in a small plot behind her Newhallville home aren’t as beefy as the ones a new mobile market brought to Winchester Avenue. She wanted to make salsa, so she bought three pounds of the juicy, round beauties.
Plus two pounds of peaches.
Plus one pound of zucchini. And six ears of corn.
Business was brisk Friday night as CitySeed wheeled its new mobile farmers’ market onto a grassy rectangular lot on Winchester Avenue just above Division Street. It’s one of the neighborhoods around town known as fresh fruit and vegetable “deserts”—areas that CitySeed’s mobile markets seek to water.
The mobile market consists of a Honda Pilot pulling a 1,000-pound trailer and its bounty.
The only stores in walking distance for many neighbors, especially the elderly, have shelves filled with far more chips and candy than the bounty of the earth.
And if the corner stores have even bananas for sale, each would cost two dollars, joked Newhallville Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards as she bought a bag of fresh peaches.
Edwards—along with aldermanic colleagues Jeanette Morrison, Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, and Delphine Clyburn— teamed up with Common Ground High School (whose kids grew the zucchinis and squash, among other crops) and the city to bring the fresh produce to Newhallville through the program.
The mobile market is the latest of a range of food initiatives, including CitySeed’s stationary farmers’ markets and the healthy corner store campaign, to bring the bounty of the earth to all the city’s neighborhoods.
“I just hope people utilize it,” Edwards said.
They were on Friday night; the corn and especially the peaches seemed to be hopping out of their bins. “This is awesome. We need it,” said Chapman, a former assistant to Yale University genetics profs who now is a stay-at-home mom cooking for five kids and a husband.
She skipped purchasing the collard greens, which she grows herself, but stocked up on the Common Ground-grown squash. The zucchinis grow amid vines, and she doesn’t have the space to grow those in her own garden. She also loved the varied colors.
Between now and Oct. 26, the mobile market will spend every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Winchester. The other weekly stops are in West River at 802 George St., across from the Berger Apartments, on Saturdays 1 to 3 p.m.; and in West Rock at the the housing authority’s Ribicoff Cottages on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Times may change and locations may be added during this first pilot season of the mobile market, said CitySeed Executive Director Nicole Berube.
In two hours during the maiden voyages at West River and in West Rock, the mobile market dispensed 30 pounds of peaches, 30 pounds of pears, 30 pounds of plumbs, and 50 pounds of corn.
“At both we sold out,” said Jeff Poch, a dietician by training who is also the mobile market’s manager. “We brought 80 pounds of peaches [to Winchester Avenue], just in case.”
“An elderly man [at West River] tried the first plum of his life,” said Cara Donovan, who works with the market as an outreach coordinator. He liked it so much he bought a whole bag, she reported.
After less than an hour on Winchester, Donovan had to re-stock the bin with the large ears of sweet corn from Northford, Connecticut-based Cecarelli Farm (50 cents an ear).
Brandi Marshall promptly purchased four ears of corns, two bell peppers, and one pound of peaches and Common Ground squash. Total price: $6
Marshall is a cook at the Whitney Center as well as a private caterer. She called it a misperception that poorer communities don’t want healthful foods. “Our community loves good stuff,” she said.
On Friday Afro-Latin musician and dancer Elaine Peters served as chanteuse with Organic Soul, a group performing for the market through the Winchester Revitalization Arts Project (WRAP). She took a break for a taste of the fresh corn salad. “Now I want to buy my corn,” she declared.
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Great article as always Allan! Just one clarification. I worked as an assistant for genetics professors.
Beautiful photos as well! Mouthwatering.