NEWS

Free farmers market sprouts up in Cranston

Posted 9/22/21

By PAM SCHIFF Fresh, farm-to-table vegetables are a valued part of many dinner tables. Now, locally, there's a new chance to get locally grown produce - with the only requirement being to provide a Cranston ZIP code. Every Thursday through October at the

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NEWS

Free farmers market sprouts up in Cranston

Posted

Fresh, farm-to-table vegetables are a valued part of many dinner tables.

Now, locally, there’s a new chance to get locally grown produce – with the only requirement being to provide a Cranston ZIP code.

Every Thursday through October at the Oak Street parking lot near the Hugh B. Bain Middle School track, the OneCranston Health Equity Zone (HEZ), which is an initiative of CCAP, is providing a free farmers market.

“What happens now, all you need to do is provide your ZIP code,” said Grace Swinski, co-chair of nutrition for OneCranston HEZ. “As long as it is in Cranston, we will give you a bag filled with fresh produce.”

Swinski said OneCranston HEZ is part of a Department of Health initiative, with CCAP serving as its “backbone agency.” The decision to start farmers market program, she said, stemmed from conversations with residents of the 02920 ZIP code about what they would like to see in the community through the HEZ.

“This is one of the main zones we know where there is a higher level of poverty, and since [OneCranston HEZ] is about health equity, it’s based on where there is higher health disparities like diabetes, high blood pressure,” she said.

Swinski said that initially, vouchers were given out for produce at the market. But limited success with that approach led to the decision to open the market up to anyone living in a Cranston ZIP code.

Organizers of the initiative are collaborating with several local farms. Already, hundreds of pounds of fresh produce have been given out.

According to Ivy Swinski, project manager for OneCranston HEZ, the farmers and farms involved include Margarita and Teo Martinez from Teo’s Products/Martinez Farm, Annie Tarley, Brenda and Chris Rooney from Keep Clam Kitchen and Farm, Seraphina from Urban Edge Farm and Blia Moua.

“We purchase $200 worth of food from the farmers with a CCAP grant and give it away,” Ivy Swinski said. “We will ask, if children are with adults, what school they attend, to see how they heard about us.”

Johnson & Wales University chef William Lendway comes to the market every week and brings an easy, nutritious recipe that can be made at home, usually with a product found at the market. He brings samples and recipe cards.

Lourdes Escamila, a student in the dietician program at Johnson & Wales, has accompanied Lendway at the event. She also assisted him in designing and developing healthy and nutritious recipes for the market.

People start lining up around 4 p.m. to be first in line, even though the market is not open until 4:30.

Grace Swinski remarked that they are hoping to make the market a little bigger next year.

“We’d like to include some movement classes, cultural dance, a fun place to come for 90 minutes,” she said.

At a recent farmers market, there were collard greens, eggplant, peppers, beans, celery onions and apples, just to name a few items.

“On the slim chance that there is leftover food, we will usually donate it to some place in the community,” Ivy Swinski said.

The market is scheduled to run every Thursday until Oct. 28.

To learn about the farmers market or other programs, follow OneCranston Health Equity Zone on Facebook (@cranstonhez), visit wwwlcranstonhez.org or email infohez@comcap.org.

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