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Monday, October 5, 2015

Kingsbridge farmers' market sprouts from grass roots

By Shant Shahrigian
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Farmer Feliciano González holds a fresh garlic bulb at his Goshen, N.Y. farm, which supplies the Kingsbridge-Riverdale Farmer’s Market, on Oct. 18.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Mr. González walks through a sea of green and blue cabbage at his Goshen, N.Y. farm, which he established with help from the non-profit environmental group GrowNYC.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Bold blue cabbage fit for a Georgia O’Keeffe painting blooms on Mr. González’s farm.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
José González Garcia, a worker at Mr. González’s farm, cuts garlic stems.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Mr. González sets up beets and leafy greens at the farmer's market, located on a yard at the Church of the Mediator at 260 West 231st Street, on Oct. 20.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Mr. González bags some potatoes at his farm on Oct. 18.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Mr. González García unloads vegetables at the Kingsbridge-Riverdale Farmer's Market on Oct. 20.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Farmer's market co-organizer Lucy Mercado spreads the word on Oct. 20.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Mercedez Polanco purchases recao, which she incorporates in traditional Latin foods, and other greens from Consuelo Hernandez, a co-organizer of the market. Ms. Polanco said the recao costs ten times as much at supermarkets.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Sian Charles-Harris and Franklin Rosario buy onions, green peppers and other vegetables on Oct. 20.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Mackenzie Rosario, 2, picks out a pint-sized pumpkin.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Customers browse at the market, which activists started as a way to bring fresh produce to an area replete with fast food restaurants.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, 2-year-old Mackenzie Rosario toddled up to a table covered with pumpkins of all sizes and selected a pint-sized one. Her parents Franklin Rosario and Sian Charles-Harris happily paid $2 for the pumpkin, one of many farm-fresh goods available at the Kingsbridge-Riverdale Farmer’s Market.

Mackenzie also helped her mom pick out some green peppers.

“It’s hard to find around here, so I enjoy that,” Ms. Charles-Harris said of the fresh produce.

The market opened on a yard in front of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator in July thanks to healthy-eating evangelists Consuelo Hernandez and Lucy Mercado.

“We’re trying to inspire the community,” Ms. Hernandez said. “It’s a food desert out here. There’s so much fast food. It’s always been a mission of mine to spread healthy eating.”

A green thumb runs in the family. Earlier this year, Ms. Hernandez’s uncle Feliciano González started a small farm in upstate Goshen with help from the non-profit environmental group GrowNYC.

Having worked on other projects with the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Ms. Hernandez thought it would be an ideal site for a market featuring her uncle’s produce. After Rev. Diego Delgado-Miller gave his blessing, the neighborhood’s first farmers’ market was born.

“The holy spirit resides in a healthy body,” Rev. Delgado-Miller said. “We want to make this space a space for the community to come and enjoy and eat properly.”

Every Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the market at 260 W. 231st St. offers a range of fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides by Mr. González and Victor Pavia, who has a small farm in Hazlet, N.J. Both farmers often deliver their produce and tend to their stands.

“I think I am doing good because I am bringing vegetables that are local with no chemicals,” Mr. Pavia said in Spanish.

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