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Trenton (and its surrounding environs) has a lot of terrific places to get food, from the in-town grocery stores (Food Bazaar and Supreme) to the official Trenton Farmers Market (technically not in Trenton) and the many many many specialty vendors. But it remains a town with so-called “food deserts” (places that lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables), particularly for those without reliable or convenient transportation.
Enter the Greenwood Ave Farmers Market, created by the NJ Healthy Food Network and a host of NJ not-for-profits and civic-minded companies. The market has taken over a long-unused parking lot on Greenwood Ave and turned it into a thriving weekly outdoor market, which is open every Monday, rain or shine. The market caters to seniors living in nearby senior housing, city workers who are heading back to the train station, ordinary folks who are heading home (and whose bus or train deposited them nearby), and the many many folks who live nearby and walk or drive past this lot. Fortunately, because the market accepts SNAP (food stamps), WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer cards), and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Vouchers, it is accessible to folks who otherwise wouldn’t have access to farm-fresh produce.
One of the highlights of the market is a stand from Isles, the wonderful Trenton not-for-profit that is working to build healthy, sustainable communities. They have built urban gardens throughout the city, and are offering a variety of fresh Trenton-grown veggies at incredibly reasonable prices. On a recent visit, they were offering broccoli, kale, red lettuce, collards, snap peas, snow peas, cilantro, scallions, garlic scapes, herbs, and plantable sunflower seedlings. Though they aren’t certified organic (the certification is incredibly costly) they assure me that everything is grown chemical-free.
Norz Hill Farm is also a regular market attendee, offering a wide range of produce as well as eggs from their flock of free-range chickens. If you’re seeking something less local (but that might cater to your specific culture), Food Bazaar is there offering pineapples, mangos, avocado and the like. Overall, there aren’t nearly as many produce options as the Trenton Farmers Market, but the quality seems nearly as good, and the location will be far more convenient for many.
The Greenwood Ave Farmers Market also specializes in health vendors. On a recent trip, we found the City of Trenton’s Health and Human Services Department (which was offering free blood pressure screenings), informational booths from the Trenton YMCA, the Henry J. Austin Health Center, St. Francis Medical Center, a pharmacy service, and a health insurance marketplace vendor. We are told that the various healthcare options will vary weekly, with HIV screenings, blood tests, and more on the docket. Rutgers Cooperative Extension has a stand where they teach simple, farm-inspired recipes (such as sautéed spinach with onion powder).
The market was created via a collaboration from the NJ Department of Health, NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids, the Hunterdon and Mercer County Regional Chronic Disease Coalition, Mrs. G. Appliances, the City of Trenton, YMCA of Trenton, Trenton Healthy Food Network and Nexus Properties (which donated the lot). The market itself only takes up half of the lot, the other half is available as free parking for market attendees.
Greenwood Ave also has weekly live music, curated by the market’s indefatigable manager, Lori Johansson. You will recognize her as the organizer of Trenton’s weekly Art Chill Night (also on Mondays). It’s great to see that her ample skills are being recognized, and that Trenton gets to reap the benefits. So go to Farmers Market, then head to Art Chill Night and buy her a beer. Cause she’s headed for some very long days!
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