Summer in Maine means Farmers’ Market extravaganzas! This year Healthy Peninsula wanted to help celebrate the bounty from our dedicated local farmers and the healthy benefits to our peninsula families by launching a pilot program, “Farmers & Families”. With generous support from the Virginia Welllington Cabot Foundation and the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, the program began this spring by introducing three local schools to their neighborhood farmers. The farmers took time from their harried days of spring planting to show the students what they farm, why they farm, and how their livelihood can directly affect families’ healthy eating habits. Both children and teachers were impressed by the beautiful farm pictures of well-tended livestock and vibrant rows of vegetables, and are eager for the fall-scheduled farm tour when they might get to taste for themselves the difference between a carrot pulled right from the ground opposed to one that has traveled across the country to reach them.
The second part of the program begins July 5th right at the Blue Hill fairgrounds Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, 9:00-11:30. Any family with school-aged children is welcome to stop by the Healthy Peninsula welcome area and receive a $10 coupon to shop at participating farmers’ booths. Families can use these coupons up to three separate Saturdays throughout the whole season. We would especially love to see new faces venturing out to connect with their local farmers, many of whom have year round farm stores and CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture: a system of paying upfront for weekly fresh vegetables provided directly at the farm).
When you come to the Healthy Peninsula welcome booth to get your coupon, there will also be a sample of fun ways to prepare the “star” vegetable of the week, some delicious recipe ideas, and a friendly face to help direct you to the best deals that week at the market. That same friendly face will also help SNAP card-holders to “Double Your Benefit” when you purchase goods at the Farmer’s Market. The Blue Hill Memorial Hospital is sponsoring this dollar-for-dollar match fund, a great incentive to help encourage and support the health and wellness of its community members by doubling the value of SNAP benefits for fresh, healthy food. It’s exciting to see the collaboration of many organizations rallying around healthy food options for our community members and supporting the farmers who make it more possible.
Although the Healthy Peninsula “Farmers and Families” program is only in Blue Hill this season, there are many other farmers’ markets in our area: Brooklin, Thursdays, 3-5 pm; Brooksville, Tuesdays 9:30-noon; Castine, Thursdays 9-11:30am; Deer Isle, Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30 am; Stonington, Fridays, 10-noon. Blue Hill also has a second farmers’ market held at the Congregational Church on Wednesdays, 3-5 pm. Go to the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association (MOFGA) website to get more details about exact locations. http://www.mofga.net/Directories/FarmersMarkets/tabid/352/.
So many opportunities to buy local fresh food, eat healthier, and support farmers. See you by the kale!
What you can do! Visit the Blue Hill Farmer’s Market on Saturdays 9:00-11:30, and especially the HP welcome booth. Tell your friends and neighbors too.
Jill Day is Program Coordinator for Healthy Peninsula and has special interests in early childhood and healthy eating.