INWOOD — Inwood residents now have two outdoor shopping options where they can buy organic produce and find new recipes for healthy eating.
The Inwood Green youth market, located on Dyckman Street between Sherman and Post avenues, kicked off its summer program last week. It's held every Wednesday between 2 and 6 p.m. until Sept. 28.
“We are all about food justice, making sure everyone has access to healthy food close to home,” said co-organizer Walter Sotelo of the Inwood Church, a new Christian congregation that operates from the Inwood Center at 5030 Broadway.
Inwood already has a year-round farmers' market on Isham Street, between Broadway and Seaman Avenue, that is sponsored by GrowNYC, but according to organizers, many people in the neighborhood said they don’t feel comfortable at that Greenmarket.
“They told us that market on the west side of Broadway is 'not for them,'” so we decided to put one on this side of Broadway that is 'for them,'” said co-organizer Sarah Shaikh, referring to a socioeconomic and cultural divide many say exists on either side of Broadway through Inwood and Washington Heights.
Shaikh, who heads up healthy community initiatives for Bon Secours New York Health System, a senior care facility in Marble Hill and Riverdale, is also familiar with similar divides within those Bronx communities and has created markets there.
Market visitor Marcos Villan said he was excited to see colorful produce being sold on Dyckman Street, where fried food and sugary treats are a more common site than bright kale and carrots. Villan said he did not know Inwood had another farmers market.
“For me, this is a big change,” he said in Spanish, describing a salad he planned to make Wednesday night. “I want to see more of this.”
This week’s organic offerings included frilly heads of lettuce, sprigs of cilantro, pearly white onions, sweet pears, carrots, bananas and apricots that come from local organic farms, such as Glebochi Farms in Orange County.
Pre-packaged bags were available for seniors who enroll in the YUM Fresh Food program, aimed at “increasing access to affordable, quality produce in the Washington Heights community.”
The program, created through a partnership between GrowNYC and Isabella Geriatric Center, a senior care and resource center in Washington Heights, makes bags that can feed up to four people available for just $12 each.
Youth volunteers from the neighborhood who are involved in the Inwood Church operate the market and take part in cooking classes during the week, teaching the kids about business management as well as healthy eating.
That made the opportunity of working at the market all the more palatable for 16-year-old Kevin Echeverria, who hopes to become a chef one day.
“This is really good practice for me,” he said, describing the lemon zest chicken patties and fruit yogurt parfaits he learned to make that week. “It was good and healthy, too.”
“The youth farm is great for getting healthy food into our community, but it is also a great chance for character development for these kids,” Sotelo said. “It speaks to the gems we have in this community. Kids here get a bad rep, but not all of them are turkeys, some are real eagles who can learn to fly.”
For Leslie Polanco, a 17-year-old who just graduated from high school and hopes to become a lawyer, a farmers market on Dyckman Street provides a unique opportunity to build her neighborhood into a stronger community.
“We’re in the middle of everything here,” she said. “I want to help my people. I am Dominican and I came here to see my people succeed.”