Parkchester greenmarket debuts

A new greenmarket promises to deliver fresh produce to the community surrounding Virginia Park.

GrowNYC staff members and community activist Deborah Oguamah, who organized the new Parkchester Greenmarket, rang a bell to celebrate its opening on Friday, July 15.

The market will be a gathering place for neighbors looking for regionally-grown produce, and is in operation at Westchester Avenue and White Plains Road every Friday from now until November 11, said GrowNYC greenmarket director Michael Hurwitz.

“I know that people from this community go to other greenmarkets in other boroughs and parts of the Bronx,” Hurwitz said at the opening. “This is really something that this community has been craving, and this location is easy for our farmers to navigate to and from when compared with other locations.”

The greenmarket’s hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EBT/Food Stamps, Debit/Credit, and WIC and FMNP checks are accepted up until 3 p.m., with EBT, debit and credit accepted up to 5 p.m.

Oguamah saw the need for the greenmarket after being unsatisfied with the quality of produce found in local markets.

“I got tired because when I went to the supermarket all of the produce that I would buy would wilt in two or three days,” Oguamah said. “My car broke down, and I didn’t feel like lugging produce from the greenmarket I used to go to at East 14th Street, so I decided it was time for a greenmarket here.”

She made contact with GrowNYC personnel and set out to get the support of local elected officials to conduct a socio-economically based needs assessment study of the communities of Parkchester, Castle Hill, Soundview, and Zerega.

She obtained support from Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Assemblyman Peter Rivera, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Councilwoman Annabel Palma, Community Board 9, and several other local organization like the National Council of Negro Women’s Parkchester and Co-op City branches and Parkchester Baptist Church, Oguamah said.

On the first day, there were activities for children, information on eating healthy from GrowNYC, and an afternoon musical performance by the children of the Islamic Cultural Center.

Produce from six farmers is offered at the Parkchester greenmarket, with one specializing in Mexican products.

“We have almost every cultural group represented, and everyone can appreciate having all of this healthy, fresh produce available right here,” Oguamah said.

One of the happy customers on the first day was Phyllis Mack.

“I was going to travel to a produce store on East 77th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan, but now I will be here every Friday to get my fresh vegetables,” Mack said.

GrowNYC operates other greenmarkets around the borough at locations including Lincoln Hospital on Tuesdays and Fridays, the New York Botanical Garden on Wednesdays, Poe Park and the Bronx County Courthouse on Tuesdays. For more information, visit grownyc.org and click on “Our Markets.”

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