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‘Green’ Youthmarket comes to Southern Blvd.

In an effort to keep the community healthy by offering fresh fruits and vegetables, and to teach entrepreneurial skills to youth, two vanguard community organizations have created a thriving market for fresh produce.

The Mid Bronx Desperadoes  Community Housing Corporation joined together on Friday, July 18, with the Council on the Environment of New York City to open a youth run market in operation every Friday during the summer at Seabury Park between E. 173rd Street and E. 174th Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There was a special ribbon cutting ceremony officially inaugurating the MBD “Fresh” Youthmaket selling freshly grown beans, peppers, apricots, spinach, lettuce, corn, and a whole slew of other fruits and vegetables to the public.

“This is another step in the ‘greening’ of our community,” said Peter Williams, president and CEO of MBD. “Along with CENYC, the youth who participate in the Youthmarket are also partners in our continuing effort to improve the quality of life for residents of East Crotona Park.”

The Youthmarket is a youth operated urban farm stand that sells healthy, fresh produce throughout New York City.  The markets support regional agriculture, preserve farmland, increase the availability of healthy fruits and vegetables in underserved communities, and teach teens about nutrition, food systems, and small business management.

 “Our young people are getting to learn business skills, while at the same time performing a community service,” said Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who attended the ribbon cutting. “This market will help improve diets of people deprived of fresh produce: this is one of the prescriptions for good health.”

Benjamin believes that having the market operating in the community could foster competition that will be an incentive to supermarkets and bodegas operating in the area to provide a better selection and quality of fruits and vegetables to consumers.

Kennedy Benjamin, the assemblyman’s wife and chief of staff, extolled the virtues that organically grown food has on those who consume it. 

“Most people seem to think that if you’re talking organic, everything is expensive, which isn’t true,” she noted. “The best thing to do is to start out with simple staples like vegetables and fruits and move forward.” 

For the teenagers who are working on the project, it helps them learn some valuable lessons..

“It is teaching me how to run a business,” said Diamond Brown, a high school student and one of the workers at the stand. “This is something that I can put on my resume. Every Friday, I will be here.”

On its first day of operation, the market drew folks from all walks of life, including a 98-year-old.

“I love the market, and enjoy it so much,” said Alice Myers, who was shopping at the market, and has lived in the Bronx for almost 100 years. “I will be back every Friday.” 

For more information, contact MBD at (718) 842-0256 or visit www.cynyc.org.

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