By the great folks at Worcester’s REC (Regional Environmental Council)
After a great pilot program last September, the Regional Environmental Council’s Urban Gardening Resources of Worcester (UGROW) has kept its promise and successfully brought a new farmers market to the Main South community for this year’s New England harvest season. The Main South Farmers’ Market (MSFM), located at 807 Main St at the corner of Benefit and Main has been up and running since Saturday, June 6 and will be open every Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm, through October 31.
Local farms have been setting up shop on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm at the corner of Benefit Street & Main Street to sell their locally grown produce and locally made products. The last two Saturdays, there was a variety of produce, freshly baked breads, freshly made corn tortillas and handmade crafts. Gibson’s Dairy provided local milk, cheeses, eggs, honey and maple syrup. At the first market day, there was also entertainment by Dan Burke. Youth from the Toxic Soil Busters were also on hand to perform their latest and greatest hits.
The Main South Farmer’s Market is part of the Hunger-Free & Healthy project which is funded by the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. This is a project developed by the Worcester Advisory Food Policy Council to reduce hunger and increase the health of Worcester’s residents. Last September’s 2008 pilot farmers’ market was able to meet its goals of:
1. Making produce accessible and affordable to residents of the Main South neighborhood, and
2. Connecting local farmers and vendors to a new market for their products.
GOALS FOR THE 2009 MARKET
The goals for the 2009 season are a little more varied and ambitious!
To make fresh, local, organic produce accessible and affordable to the residents of the Main South neighborhood
To educate area residents & other visitors about the health and environmental benefits of eating fresh, local produce
To teach area residents & other visitors about healthy recipes & cooking practices
To connect local farmers and vendors to a new market for their products
To encourage & enable local restaurants to purchase produce from local farmers
To provide a festive outdoor market experience that is fun for the whole family
To encourage youth led agricultural, culinary, and artistic performance programs
YOUTH INVOLVEMENT AT THE MARKET
YouthGROW (Youth Growing and Raising Organics) is in its seventh year of existence and is a program for 14 to 16 year olds, which builds farming, leadership, and employment skills. The YouthGROW Community Farm is located on Oread Street just around the corner from the MSFM. The vegetables that are harvested by the young urban farmers in the morning are sold immediately at the market down the street. This year YouthGROW has expanded by adding another farm on Bell Hill. This expansion has provided agricultural jobs for more of Worcester’s youth. Youth participants of the Urban Farmer’s Agricultural Academy (UFAA) also grow, harvest and distribute locally grown produce through the Main South Farmers’ Market. The partnership between the Main South Farmers Market, REC’s YouthGROW program and UFAA will enable Worcester’s inner city youth to sell what they have been growing and harvesting at a local market venue. REC continues to encourage youth involvement and leadership and is excited by the collaboration of all these programs.
ENTERTAINMENT, CRAFTS & COOKING AT THE MARKET
Besides providing locally grown vegetables and freshly baked goods, the market will also include arts, crafts, local artists, and live music that highlight Worcester’s diversity. We were lucky enough to have Dan Burke join us to perform at the June 6th market. There was also a performance by the Toxic Soil Busters youth group. At the June 13th market, local youth performers, Angel Geronimo, Mark Cusson, Stephy Lee, Identical Image, DJ Bledi and Scott Wilson and Esteban Sanchez of IMRG were on hand to provide awesome entertainment. Beautiful handmade jewelry made by a local artisan was also available for sale. As the season progresses and the harvest becomes more ample, the market will be showcasing cooking demonstrations and sampling. This is an exciting opportunity for the Main South community to come together during the beautiful summer days to share food, fun, culture, and good neighborhood company. The market is family-friendly and open to all. After the great turnout last September we are looking forward to a continued outpouring of enthusiasm and support. We would like to thank the Worcester Art Museum for partnering with us to provide arts and crafts and children’s activities to make the market fun for everyone!