Fresh Connect farmers market opens in Harlem

A statewide initiative to increase New Yorkers’ access to fresh farm products entered a second year last week with the opening of the Harlem farmers market on June 12 at 125th street on the plaza in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. New York State Office Building in Central Harlem.

“It’s a sign of the season when farmers start bringing their goods to the market, and it is a pleasure to say that the 125th Street Farmers’ Market is now open for the second year,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Our state has one of the most diverse agriculture industries and this market allows farmers to bring local, fresh and affordable products to Harlem. I encourage all New Yorkers to visit and participate in these markets this summer.”

The 125th Street Fresh Connect Farmers’ Market “overcomes a great divide in our state between our farmers and our consumers, and is the ideal location to highlight Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s FreshConnect program,” New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said. “We are excited to support this market again and provide the citizens of Harlem with some of the finest and freshest New York State farm products.”

Opened in 2011, the 125th St. FreshConnect Farmers’ Market will operate every Tuesday, through Nov. 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., rain or shine. This year, the market will be expanding the number of New York farmers and local vendors selling locally grown and processed foods, as well as providing a variety of free community activities.

To assist as many families as possible and help increase their ability to access fresh food, the market will accept Food Stamp benefits as well as other nutrition incentives, such as Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks. Starting in July, the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market, along with select other markets throughout the State, will also offer FreshConnect Checks, a nutrition incentive to encourage Food Stamp recipients to use their benefits at the market by providing $2 rebate checks for every $5 in Food Stamps spent at participating markets.

nator Bill Perkins said, “Today is a great day for the residents of my district as we open up a new FreshConnects market in Harlem. I commend Governor Cuomo for his direct leadership on this program and look forward to working with his administration on the other important issues impacting all residents of New York.”

Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, chairman of the Harlem Community Development Corporation, said, “The 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market will help achieve a circle of sustainability in New York State, bringing upstate farmers and low-income urban communities together in a symbiotic relationship. During my years as Chairman of the Assembly’s Social Services Committee, it was a priority of mine to help communities like Harlem improve access to fresh and affordable produce. The FreshConnect Farmers’ Market will accept food stamps and offer rebate checks for those customers who utilize them to purchase produce, allowing all communities to enjoy the bounty of New York State.”

The market will be managed by Tupacamaru Tiwoni of Harlem Memorial Community Development, Inc. Tiwoni has experience in developing and managing farmers’ markets and is the founder of the Wholistic Family Expo, a local health and wellness program. As both a resident and a parent, she is committed to bringing healthy, wholesome food to Central Harlem.

Tupacamaru Tiwoni, Manager of the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market, said, “As a native Harlemite, I am excited for this market season, and for the 125th Street FreshConnect market to continue to provide residents with a growing assortment of local, farm fresh foods. This year, the market will focus on providing a holistic experience combining good nutrition with healthy lifestyle choices in a community-oriented atmosphere with a flair that is uniquely Harlem.”

More farmers and vendors will be added as the growing season progresses and more produce is ready to harvest. The market anticipates more than 20 vendors at the peak of the season, offering a wide variety of fresh and locally processed food items.

Free Events at the Farmers’ Market Every Week

Throughout the market season, the market will host a number of free, weekly educational and entertainment activities, including many hosted by local community groups such as Harlem Seeds, Harlem Garden, Harlem Grown, SNAP Gardens, New York Road Runners, Bikram Yoga East Harlem and the Natural Living Institute.

• Yoga on the Plaza: Every week, market shoppers can stop by for a free yoga, weather permitting. At 10:30 a.m., shoppers can join a local instructor for Vinyasa Yoga, a fast-paced yoga session. At 5:15, join Bikram Yoga East Harlem for a variety of stretching and breathing exercises.

Market Walks: Meet at the market for light stretching and an hour long walk with members of New York Road Runners. A light stroll for seniors will take place weekly starting at 10:30 a.m. An evening walk, open for any age and ability, will start at 6:00 p.m. These events are weather permitting.

Health and Nutrition Workshops & Cooking Demonstrations: There will be free weekly programs on nutrition education and healthy lifestyles, as well as free samples of local food and copies of easy recipes for market shoppers.

Raffle Drawings: Every week, there will be free raffles of farm fresh food and other local prizes to market shoppers who either use their Food Stamp benefits at the market or participate in the free Health and Nutrition Workshops. Drawings will take place at 12:30, 3:30 and 6:15.

Gardening Workshops: Learn how to grow your own food in planters or pots during this free weekly gardening workshop provided by local gardening groups: Urban Green Eco Technology, Harlem Garden and SNAP Gardens. Market shoppers can use their Food Stamp benefits to purchase edible plant starts or seeds to grow their own food.

Entertainment: Every Tuesday during market hours, DJ NessDigital will play music at the market. From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., market shoppers can enjoy “Music Box Lunch,” a special musical program, produced by Lorraine Glover, that will showcase local talent, and preview the talent of the Harlem Summer Stage. Picnic tables and umbrellas will be available to enjoy the show while either eating your lunch or snacking on your purchases from the market.

Local Art Exhibit: Starting June 19th, local art curator Misha McGlown of Harlem Arts on the Square will return to the market this year with her Central Harlem Artists who will display and sell their local art every market day.

For more information about the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers’ Market, and to get involved, contact Linda LaViolette at (212) 803-3129 or [email protected].

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