Spotlight on Farmers’ Markets Serving Our Immigrant and Refugee Communities – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

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By Fred Mariscal, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention

After a winter that stayed too long, a cooler than average spring, and as summer sets in with the promise of endless sunshine, so do the annual summer farmers’ markets that emerge each year in the county. For many residents, shopping for fresh, local food at one of more than 30 farmers’ markets is a much-anticipated seasonal ritual.

Farmers’ markets support local food production, and most have programs that address affordability, such as accepting SNAP/EBT benefits, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), and SNAP Market Match. In this spotlight, we are excited to introduce you to three marketplaces we partner with who are taking their programs to the next level in how they provide their communities with access to local, fresh, affordable and culturally relevant products.

Delridge Farmers Market

The mission of the Delridge Farmers Market is to serve the African Diaspora immigrant and refugee community in King County. The nonprofit African Community Housing & Development (ACHD) reopened the Delridge Farmers Market in Seattle’s southwest Delridge neighborhood on May 14, 2022.

A beautiful spring harvest from Small Ax Farm, grown organically by the Black Farmers Collective.

This market aims to put fresh, local food produced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned businesses directly into the hands of neighborhood residents. “To support small business development, vendors pay no booth fees to participate and receive resources, equipment and technical support as they build their capacity to sell at farmers’ markets,” said said Bilan Aden, Associate Director of CDHA. “We seek to reduce the economic risk inherent in selling at a farmer’s market while eliminating food waste by purchasing any leftover produce at the end of the market day. Additionally, this food is delivered to community members who cannot get to the market due to mobility or transport barriers.

The market also provides space and interpretation between Somali and English for community organizations to share resources and connect vendors and customers. To make the Farmer’s Market more kid-friendly, they’re offering “Youth Bucks” – $5 kids can spend on whatever they like!

The Delridge Farmers Market takes place the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, May through October 2022, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 9421 18th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106. A limited number of free produce bags are available at on a first-come, first-served basis.

To volunteer, visit achdo.org/volunteer. For more information contact Market Manager Daniel Horst at [email protected] – For sponsorships Rachel Perlot at [email protected]

Kent East Hill Farmer’s Market

The Kent East Hill Farmers Market is a proud community market that aims to increase access to fresh, healthy and culturally relevant produce in its community. All products sold are grown by immigrant residents (BIPOC). Many of these farmers also participate in Living Well Kent programs to access farmland and support to learn how to be successful farmers in the western Washington climate. Access to farmland can otherwise be a significant economic barrier for new farmers in Puget Sound.

“Most of our farmers are refugees and immigrants from Africa and Afghanistan who have full-time jobs; they cultivate part-time because they like to cultivate. We teach them techniques they can use to grow their produce successfully. So it’s a combination of support and education,” said Claudia Cortes, COO of Living Well Kent. “For us, it is vital to support these farmers because without our help, they would not be able to farm in this state.

2021 Kent East Hills Farmers Market Opening Ceremony with Kent Mayor Dana Ralph.

Farmers sell part of their harvest at the Kent East Hill Farmers Market, earning extra income while giving the Kent community better access to healthy, locally grown food. Farmers also donate a percentage of their harvest to local food banks so low-income community members and immigrants can have fresh, locally grown produce. Additionally, it is the only Farmer’s Market in Kent that accepts SNAP and SNAP Market Match.

You can find the Kent East Hill Farmers Market every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from June 4 to September 24, 2022, on 24604 104e Ave SE Kent, WA 98030. To support this program, contact Claudia Cortes at [email protected]

Tukwila Village Farmer’s Market

The Tukwila Village Farmers Market, run by the Food Innovation Network, sells fresh local produce grown by refugees and immigrants in South King County.

Several market producers are part of the The International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program (IRC), which focuses on providing families with access to food and nutritional needs upon arrival in the United States, New Roots also provides access to land, materials and education for program participants to grow healthy food for their families. The market allows participants to sell their products locally, which creates jobs and connects people to food.

“The Food Innovation Network works with refugees and immigrants who grow their produce and provide fresh, healthy food grown locally by people like us. There is trust when the person selling you this fruit looks like you and comes from your community,” said Faizah Shukru, Food Innovation Network (FIN) program coordinator. “We offer refugees and immigrant farmers the opportunity for economic growth in exchange for healthy, local and affordable products for our community. This is our mission.

Farmers’ market staff in the village of Tukwila with a vendor (centre) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a typical market day.

In addition to WIC & Senior FMNP, SNAP and SNAP Market Match, the Tukwila Village Farmers’ Market offers “Heart Bucks” – vouchers provided by FIN to eligible individuals who need assistance with market shopping. Last year, 138 families took advantage of the program and received between $90 and $180, depending on family size. FIN will repeat the Heart Bucks program this year.

To support this program, contact Program Director Kara Martin at [email protected]

You can find the Tukwila Farmers Market at Tukwila Village Plaza on Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m., June 22-October 12, 2022, at 14350 Tukwila International Blvd, Tukwila, WA 98168.

Originally published 6/21/22

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