Mini-Farmers’ Markets and Other Good Ideas From the Tucson Community Food Bank

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We just had an interesting conversation with Monica Garcia from the Tucson Community Food Bank about the new mini-farmers-market concept she debuted this week.

The new market opened this Wednesday at the El Rio Community Health Center at 1500 W. Commerce Court, and continues from noon to 2 p.m., the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. The market sells only local, organic produce and accepts food stamps and WIC and Arizona Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.

Garcia said the new market is made possible through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, which is paid for through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The food bank's plan is to make healthy, locally grown produce available to low-income folks while supporting local farmers and the local economy as a whole.

“What they’re buying at the major supermarkets has been trucked in from all over the country,” said Garcia. “The stuff that they buy at the (farmers’) market is organic, and they’re really buying from their neighbors. It’s better quality, it supports the local economy and it tastes better.”

Food Bank officials are currently looking at other sites that could benefit from mini-markets. The CDC grant has also made it possible to open another new farmers’ market at El Pueblo Park at 101 W. Irvington Road. The grand opening from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 23, will feature music, activities for the kids and appearances by several city and county officials.

Garcia said the food bank also sells vegetables on consignment, and has a program that helps low-income folks start home gardens. Qualifying participants get help with planning and installing the garden, and the produce is then sold at one of the four markets the food bank operates around town.

Call the Food Bank at 622-0525 for more information.

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