Farmers market, YNDC, Mercy partner to double food help
By GRAIG GRAZIOSI
On the Downtown
Youngstown Farmers Market’s first day of operation in June, the market was sold out by noon.
The third session of the Downtown Youngstown Farmer’s Market, held at the B&O Terminal on Wednesday, drew a decent crowd despite clouds hanging over the city and intermittent rain.
Unlike its inaugural session, there was plenty of produce left over at the vendors’ stands, but not for a lack of customers.
Doors opened at 10 a.m. and by 11:30 the market saw nearly 400 shoppers.
The market – a result of a partnership between the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and Mercy Health – is funded by a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant meant to address food insecurity.
The dollar-for-dollar grant was matched in large part thanks to funding from Mercy Health and is meant to ensure that poor individuals receiving food assistance can afford healthy food.
The farmers market and other YNDC and Mercy Health programs – such as the Produce Perks program at the Sparkle Markets in Cornersburg, on South Avenue in Boardman and on Parkman Road in Warren – “double up” individuals’ food assistance, effectively giving them twice the purchasing power when they buy healthy food and produce.
Tom Hetrick, the YNDC’s neighborhood planner, said more produce was available at this stage of the growing season, resulting in much more of a selection for customers than at the June market.
“Everything here is grown by the farmers, so they have what’s in season and available in our region,” Hetrick said. “Corn sold out first today, and peaches were also very popular.”
Star Vincent, the co-owner of Jack’s Mountain Orchard of East Rochester, has been participating as a vendor since the first market and spent her day selling onions, garlic and a variety of peaches.
Vincent is no stranger to local farmers markets – she frequently sold her wares at the YNDC’s Idora Neighborhood market – but said the monthly downtown event drew an exceptional number of customers.
“I think having it once a month brings out a larger crowd, since everything is all on one day,” she said. “Plus the partnership between YNDC and Mercy brings out a spectrum of customers I may have otherwise not had access to, like seniors, for example.”
Hetrick said several vendors had commented that they’d sold more of their products during the downtown market than at any other Youngstown farmers market.
The remaining two markets will take place on the second Wednesday of September and October.