Fresh from the farm to your table!
To begin to address the problems of Food Equity with tangible solutions, in 2010 Sustainable Long Island partnered with the local community partners and the Long Island Farm Bureau to establish two youth-run farmers’ markets in North Bellport and Roosevelt, which brought fresh, nutritious foods to these communities, historically underserved by food retailers and markets.
The markets provided jobs to local high school students in each community, promoted nutrition and education to residents, contributed to a sense of place, given community members’ greater choice of fresh produce and healthy food options, and helped boost the local and regional economy. Simultaneously the markets allowed farmers to devote more time to tending their farms rather than traveling back and forth; making participating in community farmers markets more appealing and financially sound.
On July 7, 2010, just before opening weekend, Senator Gillibrand held a press conference in North Bellport to formally announce the launch of the project. On hand were the Senator, Congressman Tim Bishop, Senator Brian Foley, Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, Ex. Director of the Long Island Farm Bureau Joe Gergela, and numerous representatives for participating local community groups including the Greater Bellport Coalition, Suffolk County United Veterans, Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area, Roosevelt Community Revitalization Group, and the Health and Welfare Council.
Throughout the summer and fall months of 2010 numerous elected officials joined us at the markets including Legislator Kevan Abrahams, Legislator Kate Browning, Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano – who also held a press conference to highlight the Roosevelt Markets’ success. Unique activities and demonstrations occurred throughout the season at both markets from cooking demonstrations, to steel drum bands, to informational tables on nutrition, agriculture, and health services available in both North Bellport and Roosevelt.
On October 31, 2010 the markets officially came to a close for the season, resulting in over $28,000 in sales and supplying over five thousand community residents with fresh, affordable produce .
Throughout the season (July 11 – October 31) residents had the option of purchasing affordable fruit and vegetables from high school students of each community who ran the markets, which were stocked with produce from six Long Island Farms including Anderson Farms, Deer Run Farms, Milk Pail Farms, Natural Earth Farms, Philip Schmitt & Sons Farms, and W&K Farms. Over 90 boxes of cabbage, 240 bags of corn, 748 bags of spinach, 870 bunches of beets, 3200 pounds of tomatoes, 3860 pounds of apples, and 5120 pounds of melon made their way fresh from the farm to North Bellport and Roosevelt resident’s kitchen tables. More amazingly, 65% of total transactions came from EBT sales and WIC and Senior Checks, cementing the fact that access to this fresh, affordable food alternatives is needed now more than ever in many low-income communities.
These youth-led farmers' markets project use a comprehensive community-based approach when dealing with the issue of food access in underserved Long Island communities.
In 2011, Sustainable Long Island provided technical assistance to four youth-staffed farmers' markets located in Roosevelt, Bellport and expanding into Flanders and New Cassel.
This year, customers in all four communities were offered to take a survey to describe some of their shopping, eating, and food habits in relation to the markets. We found some interesting trends:
- 61% of respondents said the markets had increased how often they eat fruit and vegetables
- 78% of respondents feel the markets had increased their connection to the community
- 45% of respondents indicated youth involvement is among their favorite aspects of the markets
- 42.6% of respondents indicate that quality and freshness of produce is among their favorite aspects of the markets
- 24% of respondents indicate that acceptance of SNAP and Senior/WIC FMNP is among their favorite aspects of the markets
Through 2012, Sustainable Long Island continues working with local community partners; providing technical assistance on this project in Roosevelt, Bellport, Flanders, New Cassel, and Wyandanch.