New Britain hosts farmers market this summer

Article originally published in The New Britain Herald

Fresh, wholesome food is coming to New Britain, Monday, June 2. From June through August, city residents will have an opportunity at five different locations to stock up on fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables.

A mobile farmers market will be making the rounds next week. A truck will bring Connecticut grown fresh fruits and vegetables to locations around the city: The Community Health Center, 85 Lafayette St. Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m.; The Jefferson School, 140 Horse Plain Rd., Tuesdays from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.; The Senior Center, 55 Pearl St., Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.; The Smith School, 142 Rutherford St., Thursdays, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Urban Oaks Organic Farm,207 Oak St., Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Urban Oaks Manager Peggy Hall said the mobile market will accept cash, credit cards, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Awareness program), WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program and Farmers Market coupons. Produce offered will be from Urban Oaks Farm and other local farms.

The mobile market is made possible by a $75,000 federal grant sponsored through the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency.

Hall said along with the food will be recipes and nutrition information.

“We’re catering to people in the city who rely on SNAP and WIC,” she said. “Some of them may not have seen vegetables they’ll be sampling. A little salt and pepper and kale chips become a healthy snack.”

Jane Francis, Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, explained that the USDA considers New Britain “a food desert with a high density of low- income individuals and families. We expect the mobile market to be welcomed in the area as providing access to fresh produce, along with recipe cards, cooking demos and food tastings throughout the season.”

Speaking by telephone Thursday from Washington DC, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Kevin Concannon said his department “is passionate about the role farmers markets can play in bringing healthy, fresh foods to SNAP recipients, seniors and those in the WIC program.” Concannon added that this effort benefits local farmers, enabling them to expand their customer base.

“When dollars go back into the Connecticut economy it helps everybody locally,” he said. “We also want people to eat healthier and farmers markets typically have fresher foods, locally grown and less processed. All of us consume too much processed food.”

Concannon acknowledged that because “junk food” is less expensive low-income families are more likely to favor it. However, he promised that farmers markets such as Urban Oaks will offer healthier food competitively priced.