News release from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation:
First HEAL Urban Farmer’s Market of the Summer
Growing More than Fruits and Vegetables
(July 9, 2014) â€” The HEAL McCormick Farmer’s Market will open today, Wednesday, July 9, from 5-7 P.M. The location is at the corner of McCormick and Edsall, across from the McCormick Place Apartments. It will be the first in a series of Wednesday evening Farmer’s Markets including produce grown by local teen and refugee urban farmers living in the McCormick neighborhood. The markets will run from now until mid September.
HEAL’s main goal is to improve the health of the residents in low-income, food desert areas of Fort Wayne by introducing more healthy produce into their diets. A unique feature of this Farmer’s Market is that HEAL sponsors, Parkview Health and the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, will match WIC and SNAP vouchers enabling individuals to double their purchase of fresh local produce.
The 20+ residents from the neighborhood who participate in the program have worked diligently for months planting, watering, and picking their produce. HEAL’s Community Garden participants include teenagers from the Boys and Girls Club who have been hired to spend much of their summer working in the garden. The three young men who work at both the garden and at the Farmer’s Market report they are not only growing produce and their farming skills. One young man said of his time in the program, it “has taught us more about leadership” and has allowed them to work both “as leaders and as a team.” Clint Kelly, director of Better Fort Farms, added that there are great benefits to having the teenagers “do something interesting, with someone interested in them.”
There will also be several different groups participating in the market including the HEAL Adult Client Gardeners who maintain plots in the garden. As many are refugees from Burma, they will sell ethnic vegetables locally grown throughout the summer.
The Market will also offer free produce tastings and preparation demonstrations, along with ideas for recipes. A sampling of the varied fruits, vegetables, and herbs for sale this week includes glacier tomatoes, kale, scallions, okra, green peppers, sage, raspberries, mulberries, sage, and mint.
Meg Distler, the Executive Director of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, “We are delighted to be able to partner with Parkview to help support the growth of and access to delicious, nutritious and also affordable produce in a community where they are too often scarce. This is just another great way to continue the work of our sponsor, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ , who have been committed to helping everyone in our community, especially those with lower incomes, access health and wellness since 1868.”