FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2011
CONTACT: Councilwoman Bridget Fleming
PHONE: (631) 287-5745
Town of Southampton Launches Flanders Farm Fresh Food Project
Youth-run Community Farmer’s Market Opens Through the Fall
Flanders, NY – The Town of Southampton kicked off its Flanders Farm Fresh Food Project yesterday with a press conference announcing the opening of a youth-staffed community farmer’s’ market at the Flanders Crohan Community Center. Organized by Town of Southampton Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and the Southampton Town Housing Authority – with technical assistance provided by Sustainable Long Island – the market will provide fresh fruit and vegetables to residents in the surrounding hamlets of Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton.
“This market is a perfect example of neighbors helping neighbors. It's just what we need in this tough economy--to encourage our teens to build a sound financial future, to support local farming, and of course to bring nutritious fresh produce to this underserved neighborhood,” said Fleming. “I am deeply grateful for the many willing hands who are making the vision a reality.”
Bonnie Cannon, Chair of the Southampton Housing Authority, aided in the recruitment of local teens to work at the market. "This project brings great opportunity for economic development within the community. The idea of youth staffing the market is an outside the box concept which helps our young adults grow into experienced entrepreneurs,” she said.
The market will operate every Saturday from July 16th through October 29th and run from 9am to 1pm at the Flanders Community Center at 655 Flanders Road (Route 24). Area youth will staff the market under the supervision of a market manager, gaining valuable job experience and training in business, customer service, and safe food handling. The produce sold at the market will be provided by eight local Southampton farms including Country Garden, Halsey Farm & Nursery, Halsey’s Green Thumb of Water Mill, Kraszewski Farms, Lisa & Bill’s Fresh Vegetables, Milk Pail - LLC, Pike Farms, and Sagaponack Potato Company.
When the opportunity to bring nutritious food to an underserved area arose, John Halsey didn’t hesitate to sign up as a contributing farmer. “The more people to experience high quality food, the better our society will be. Not enough of the general public is aware of how important it really is,” said Halsey.
The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Workforce Housing have also been extremely supportive of the project, providing assistance through grant funding. The Commissioner, Yves Michel, echoed Mr. Halsey’s enthusiasm for broadening healthy food opportunities, saying “today is a very important first step to introduce and instill the notion of farmers markets in a community that desperately needs food options and choices. I applaud everyone involved for their extraordinary efforts on this project.”
The Farm Fresh Food Market will accept EBT, WIC and Senior FMNP checks; increasing their redemption rate in low-income communities. The market also boasts access to public transportation which will pass in front of the Community Center, as well as Southampton Senior Services who will provide transportation to the market each Saturday. This project was sponsored and made possible with funding from the Town of Southampton, Town of Southampton Housing Authority, CDBG Public Service Funding, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Bridgehampton National Bank, and Maran Corporate Risk.
“The opening of this youth-staffed farmer’s market is an enormous step in the right direction in combating food access issues in the Town of Southampton,” said Donna Boyce, Director of Programs, Sustainable Long Island. “As Sustainable Long Island provides technical assistance to the market – we have great confidence this project will help fill an important void in the availability of fresh, healthy, affordable food in Flanders and neighboring communities.”
Flanders historically suffers from lack of local supermarkets as well as access to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets more readily available in other areas of Southampton. Residents participating in focus group discussions in the hamlets of Flanders and Riverside consistently identified this problem as a top priority they wanted to see addressed. The closest supermarkets to Flanders are located in Riverhead Town, along CR 58, or in Hampton Bays, on Montauk Highway; neither location is easily accessible to those without private transportation. In addition, according to the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, 6.5 percent of households in Flanders supplement their incomes with Food Stamps/SNAP benefits.
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