A Farmer’s Market Grows in Mott Haven
Lily Kesselman, director of The South Bronx Farmer’s Market, is part of a team of community leaders transforming the Mott Haven food desert into an oasis. “This is the poorest congressional district [in America],” explains Kesselman. She emphasizes that there was and still is a need for local organic whole foods for the community. The South Bronx Farmer’s Market is there every Wednesday and Saturday to fill that gap.
The farmers market has made its home on E 138th St. between Alexander and Willis Avenues, in the heart of Mott Haven. Kesselman and her co-founders wanted to offer an “alternative to going into the city to shop for fresh food on the weekends.” So taking a step forward, she connected with Just Food, an organization that provides farmers market and CSA training to community leaders oriented at underserved neighborhoods.
Kesselman and her team have opened a unique and sustainable farmers market model, tailored to the Mott Haven neighborhood. “I’m interested in connecting farming with business and marketing. I wanted to create a market that was stable and viable for farmers while helping my community,” Kesselman told Just Foods.
“This was a better way to offer local food,” she says, referring to other food distribution services, like Fresh Direct, who also is a commercial competitor in the local market. As an alternative, the market has successfully organized a group of both hyper-local and regional vendors and farmers. A complete list of their vendors is available on their website.
The mission at SBFM incorporates the message of “trying new things,” as Kesselman puts it. A big part of what the market does is facilitate food subsidies, like DOH Health Bucks, to the community. The goal is to make it easier for locals to try new foods and live a healthier lifestyle.
South Bronx Farmer’s Market is looking to make local restaurants and businesses their next customers. “It’s a win-win for the community,” as Kesselman puts it. It is part of a new expansion plan to open more locations and dates in the South Bronx in the near future.
The current location is easily accessible by foot or subway. The vendors operate across from the 138th Street subway station, on the 6 line. The farmers market is also easily accessed from the 4 and 5 lines from the 138th Street and Grand Concourse station, right across from La Finca del Sur. The market is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm, until November 22nd.
On Sunday, October 22nd the South Bronx Farmers Market will be sharing their message of community inclusion and health at the Rocking the Bridge event, a Mott Haven block party taking place under the Third Avenue Bridge, 1 pm to 6 pm. All are welcome, including kids as they'll be providing pumpkins, apples and hay bails among other food vendors and programming.