New Farmers Market brings fresh, local produce to the Dixwell community

New Farmers Market brings fresh, local produce to the Dixwell community

The market, which operates every Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. in Daniel Stewart Plaza, provides Dixwell residents with easy and affordable access to food products from local farms and small New Haven businesses.

Molly Renman

1:06 am, September 16, 2022

Reporter contribution

Courtesy of Frankie Douglas

CitySeed and Q-House, two New Haven community organizations, have partnered to open a new Dixwell neighborhood farmer’s market featuring local vendors and providing customers with fresh produce at discount prices.

The market, which runs every Wednesday through late October from 3-6 p.m., opened outside the Q-House in Dixwell in June of this year. The vendors consist of a number of small businesses and local farms. Last week, there were three vendors – Massaro Community Farm, Beckett Farms, Pedals Smoothie, and Juice Bar. A typical week sees about 90 to 250 customers visit. According to Sandy Flores, assistant market manager at CitySeed, the Q-House Farmers Market is an important way to bring fresh produce to people in New Haven from low-income backgrounds.

“With the market, we hope to expand healthy, affordable food options in the [Dixwell]“In addition to encouraging local entrepreneurship,” said Nicole Jefferson22, who serves as a communications coordinator for LEAP, a youth-focused organization located in Q-House, which oversees publicity for its market. Jefferson said the market goals align with the LEAP and Q-House missions, because they “use [Q-House] Square in a way that brings people together.”

The market is also important to Jefferson because it exposes New Haven residents to resources they might not otherwise have access to.

Flores echoed Jefferson’s sentiments. She explained that the Q-House Market accepts various forms of food stamps — including SNAP coupons and WIC checks — that allow customers to take fresh food sold in the market at discounted prices. According to Karen Comstock, a CitySeed volunteer who works with Flores, SNAP discounts are doubled when spent on products. Comstock said Dixwell’s market presence is very helpful, because there are a lot of people who come from low-income backgrounds and SNAP users.

According to the Newhallville and Dixwell Community Index, 2321, or 55 percent, of Dixwell’s residents are considered low-income.

Gail Brown, a Hamden community resident and participant in both SNAP and WIC programs, attends the Q-House Farmers Market every Wednesday because of the fresh produce and discounts offered.

“I take three buses to get here. But I am here every Wednesday, because I have the vouchers and the vouchers and I can use my WIC and SNAP programs.” “It’s good that they’re doing it here in the community. The customers are basically low-income people, so that’s fine because we get local, healthy stuff. I can go to the store and get discounted packaged items too, but here, I get it fresh. And that’s even better.” For me “.

In addition to providing equitable access to locally grown food, another mission of the CitySeed Q-House Farmers Market is to promote local farms and small businesses in New Haven. Jefferson explained that CitySeed runs a program called Collab, who teaches a course on food business for entrepreneurs in New Haven. Some Collab graduates are vendors at the new Q-House Market.

Kismet Douglass is a chef from Yale University who works at the Schwarzman Center, a graduate of the CitySeed Collab and owner of Momma Kiss Kitchen Cuisine, a small catering business that has been sold at the Q-House Market in the past. Douglas described the market as a wonderful experience.

“I had a lot of exposure, and I was able to contribute to the farmers there,” she told the newspaper. In the future, Douglas hopes to organize cooking shows at the market, which she hopes will help educate customers about “what they can make with the merchandise sold by the vendors.”

Small Connecticut farms are also targeted beneficiaries of the Q-House market. According to Jefferson, the two frequent sellers in the market are Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge and Beckett Farms in Glastonbury.

“One of our guiding values ​​as a farm is access to food, and of course that’s not an easy value to fit in as a small farming enterprise,” explained Cas Friend, an employee at Massaro Community Farm who works in the Q-House stand. . “Our small farming farm system is not set up for survival, let alone done in a way that is accessible to all people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. So this market presents a really good opportunity to align more closely with our mission of access to food.”

Although they appreciate Q-House Market’s goals and the exposure it brings to them, Douglass and Friend noted that the small size of the market presents some of the financial difficulties for their business. Douglas explained that the Q-House Market sees less traffic than other CitySeed farmers markets because of its cradle and location. Seddik emphasized the challenges of selling her products to small crowds.

However, Friend and Douglas remain committed to their mission, and are optimistic about the future of the market. “It’s tough, because we’re so pinched as farmers, and yet a lot of people get involved in this kind of business because we believe everyone should have a right to healthy, locally grown food,” Friend explained. “I hope this market will be part of making this possible for farmers and small communities in Connecticut as well.”

Q-House reopened in November 2021 after an 18-year hiatus.

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