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New Farmers Market Offers Free Produce to Washington Heights Residents

 People who live in the 10032 zip code are elligible for free produce from City Harvest.
Washington Heights Farmers Market
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Residents of southern Washington Heights will now be able to access fresh produce right outside their front doors.

City Harvest launched a new farmers market at West 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue earlier this month, offering fresh fruits and vegetables for free to residents of the 10032 zip code.

The Prince Hall Mobile Market, which is open twice a month, is part of City Harvest’s Healthy Neighborhoods initiative, which aims to increase access to fresh, healthy foods in low-income areas across the city.

“We recognize that hunger isn’t just about not having enough food," said City Harvest spokeswoman Samantha Park. "It’s about not having access to the right kind of food. In a lot of these neighborhoods, fresh produce is not available or there may be just one or two things on offer at a bodega.”

The market, launched in partnership with the Prince Hall Masonic Temple and funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumniation Fund, is the ninth to open under the city initiative and the second focused on Uptown Manhattan. A similar market opened at the Dyckman Houses in 2012 and now serves 575 households during each market day.

City Harvest has chosen to focus on Washington Heights and Inwood for its Manhattan markets because of the high rate of food insecurity in the area, as well as the large number of health problems related to poor diet, Park said.

“More than 15 percent of people in Washington Heights and Inwood experience food insecurity, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Park said. “The need is really high.”

Residents of the 10032 zip code can sign up to participate in the new market by phone or in person on a market day. Each household that qualifies will receive a key card that gives them access to a pre-determined number of portions of fresh produce at each market.

The fruits and vegetables on offer are donated by farms that may have an excess of one type of produce, or have fruits and vegetables that are either too small or too large for the typical supermarket.

There are typically five to six kinds of fruits or vegetables at each market.

During the first market day on Aug. 13, residents received carrots, radishes, sweet potatoes, onions and peaches.

To ensure that market-goers make the most of the selection, City Harvest regularly hosts chefs and nutritionist who do cooking demonstrations accompanied by recipe cards.

The first market at the new location was a success, with about 300 attendees, Park said.

“People started lining up around 7 a.m. for the market to open at 9:30,” Park said. “They were really excited that this is going to be a regular thing in their neighborhood.”

The Prince Hall Market will be open on the second Thursday and the fourth Saturday of each month, year-round. For more information, call 646-412-0729.