The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH) mobile farmers market truck made its successful debut near the entrance to Floyd Bennett Field with a large assortment of high quality, reasonably priced, freshly harvested and locally grown greens, fruits and vegetables on Saturday, July 9th.
Dr. Melony Samuels, TCAH Founder and Executive Director, has been growing fresh produce and her organization for over 24 years. She was busy overseeing sales on the mobile truck, which had a majority of organic produce and some rare finds such as Swiss chard, turnip greens and exotic root vegetables, as well as free-range organic eggs that are hard to get in regular markets. Proceeds help support farm operations and TCAH training, internship and workforce development programs.
She was joined by Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, State Senator Roxanne Persaud and Scott Middleton, Partnership Planner at the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC). They worked together to create the farmers market, with additional support from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse and NYC Parks.
Assemblywoman Stefani L. Zinerman, whose 56th District represents Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, is on the State Agriculture Committee with Williams and has been a longtime supporter of Samuels, whose work she has given credit for making her district “food sovereign.” She and Williams have pulled their resources together to obtain Cornell grant funds for food initiatives in their districts.
Zinerman is working with Williams and others in a partnership between their neighborhoods with plans to renovate a building in order to open a high school at Floyd Bennett Field whose students will be involved in agricultural programming yet to be developed.
Williams, who initiated the idea of the farmers market to bring fresh produce at a low cost to her and Persaud’s district, stated that she is working with TCAH on some agricultural projects like a hydroponic/aquaponic farm. She thinks that Floyd Bennett Field would be a perfect fit because it’s a big area with no crowding and plenty of parking.
“Even though some people thought it was out of the way, going back many, many years ago, there used to be a farmers market right here at Floyd Bennett Field,” Williams said. She also mentioned the large community garden located there for many decades, which she hopes to involve in this initiative.
“They always have events and every weekend, hundreds and hundreds of people come through to enjoy — whether it’s fishing, the beach, the archery, gardening, or any of the other things there are to do, it’s being able to utilize the space at Floyd Bennett Field and it’s a beautiful area,” she said.
There was one vendor selling an assortment of exotic soy blend fragrance candles, but it is anticipated that there will be many more to come with additional offerings as time goes by as this was only the beginning of weekly events through the summer and fall.
Most of the produce quickly disappeared before noon that day, but additional harvests were brought in to replenish the stock from their nearby Far Rock farm located minutes away in Far Rockaway.
Floyd Bennett Field is located at 3159 Flatbush Avenue and is accessible by car or the Q35 bus, but it can be difficult for some to get to easily. Samuels said that since her farmers market trucks are mobile, people just need to let them know if there is a high need area and they will come out to them.
The farmers market will be operating every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. until the end of November. For more information about TCAH, go to tcahfarms.org/.