A Partnership between Food and Health at Mott Haven Farm Stand
There is a slice of the countryside in the middle of Mott Haven. A rooster crows in the parking lot on E 142nd St. and St. Ann’s, heralding the start of another Monday. Across the street at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Neighborhood Family Care Center, a farmer drops off some organic produce that was in the ground that very morning. Sheila Young greets him and begins to set up the Mott Haven Farm Stand.
Mott Haven Farm Stand is a partnership between BronxWorks Stellar farmer’s market program and Sheila Young, the market manager for the past eight years. Sheila and her husband Mike Young started selling farm fresh organic produce at Padre Plaza Community Garden, which Mike manages. ““I wanted to bring back to the community. I’m from the community,” says Sheila. “There is nothing here except supermarkets and it’s not good.”
After being diagnosed with a brain tumor about a decade ago and her husband’s own health complications, Mrs. Young and her family changed their lifestyle. They started with food and it grew into community involvement. “I started doing my research,” says Sheila, and found that what we put into our bodies is the foundation of health and longevity. That’s what prompted her family to start to grow and buy local produce.
Eventually, the Young’s set up their own farmer’s market on E 139th St. in Padre Plaza Community Garden. After several years, the farmer’s market moved to Belvis Care Center to service the hospital’s patients and became a single vendor farm stand. The organic produce comes from Nolasco Farms in Allamuchy-Panther Valley, New Jersey - a Mexican-American family owned farm run by Sergio Nolasco.
BronxWorks Stellar farmer’s market coordinates nutrition and cooking workshop held at the farm stand each week. The goal is to teach easy recipes with in-season produce participants can purchase at the farm stand using Health Bucks. Health Bucks are free two dollar coupons, provided by the New York Department of Health; participants receive after completing a Stellar nutrition and cooking workshop. Participants can then use those Health Bucks to buy produce at participating farm stands and markets throughout the city.
The partnership between the hospital, farm stand and BronxWorks is close and community oriented. Doctor’s and hospital administrators regularly send their patient’s out to the nutrition class and farm stand to supplement their health treatment. “It is sustainable because it was born from the community and is managed by residents of the community,” says Carolina Espinoza, Nutrition Program Coordinator at BronxWorks and Registered Dietitian. “The mission of the Mott Haven Farm Stand is to empower the community to lead their own initiative to increase access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables.”
Bronxites are learning that healthy food is inextricable from wellness. It’s thanks to partnerships like Mott Haven Farm Stand who emphasize the importance of participation and just showing up. “I’m here,” says Sheila. “Just me and my herbs, vegetables and fruit.”
Mott haven Farm Stand is located at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Neighborhood Family Care Center, on E 142nd St and St. Ann’s Ave.
Open on Mondays from 10 am - 4 pm