City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (pictured) was at the New York Botanical Garden's popular greenmarket this morning, to bring attention to the growing number of farmers markets that accept food stamps.
"Right now there's a real issue with obesity and hunger in New York City," Quinn said. "They're two sides of the same coin." Quinn, who's toured several markets over the past weeks, said that readily available fresh produce can only have a positive affect on the community's health.
In the past, market vendors didn't have the technology to take food stamps, even if they wanted to. Now, thanks to $300,000 in additional funding from the City Council, many markets (including this one) are equipped with wireless scanners which shoppers use to swipe their EBT cards in return for tokens.
"You can't put a price on quality," said Perry Avenue resident Melinda Mendoza, who was at the Garden earlier today picking up greens for the six kids she has living at home. (She has nine in all.) "Over here it's all fresh and crisp... I was by the broccoli and you could really smell it, it's not like that in a supermarket."
The market - one of only half a dozen or so in the Bronx - is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday through October. Set up in 2002, it's been a big success say vendors. "The traffic here is fantastic," said Joseph Bates, who runs The Little Bakeshop, which sells pies, brownies and quiches. "I always sell out, this is the place to be."
Bates, who's based in Rockland County, likes the Garden too. "At most farmers markets you're standing in a parking lot, here it's different," he said, eyeing the trees.
Quinn, for the record, bought some green beans and a melon.
(Photos by James Fergusson)