Farmers markets make fresh produce more accessible in Wards 7 and 8

There are 16 farmers markets in Wards 7 and 8 this season.

This is terrific news since access to fresh produce is limited in Wards 7 and 8. In addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, these markets often share healthy recipes, teach basic culinary skills, and serve as community hubs.

Most markets in 7 and 8 take place on Saturday (green). The rest occur Tuesdays (orange), Wednesdays (fuschia), Thursdays (purple), and Fridays (turquoise).

Produce Plus

Because fresh produce is harder to get in Wards 7 and 8 than in other parts of the city—Wards 7 and 8 are food deserts, after all—markets east of the Anacostia River are the predominant distributors of Produce Plus checks. Writes DC Greens, administrator of the Produce Plus program funded by the Department of Health,

Why is Produce Plus only distributed in certain wards?

Because Produce Plus funding is limited, the program is prioritizing areas of the city that have the fewest places to buy fresh produce. This change will allow the limited funds to best support the growth of farmers' markets in wards where fresh food is difficult to find. Customers may still spend Produce Plus checks in all wards of the city.

Wait, what is Produce Plus? Basically, it's free money. It allows DC residents participating in a variety of benefit programs to get more fresh produce at any farmers market in the city. Again, from DC Greens:

Eligible DC residents can receive $10 worth of Produce Plus checks when they visit a participating DC farmers’ market, up to two times per week. This program is first-come first-serve, while supplies last. Produce Plus checks can be spent on fresh fruit, vegetables, and cut herbs at over 50 farmers markets across the city. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can help fuel your body with needed vitamins and nutrients, help you reduce your risk for some chronic illnesses (including type 2 diabetes), and help you manage your weight.

Join the Farmers' Market Brigade and volunteer

Produce Plus does not run on DC government funding alone. Volunteers are needed to distribute Produce Plus checks at 35 farmers markets of which 15 are located in Wards 7 and 8. There are two volunteer trainings this week, one each in Wards 7 and 8, June 20 and 21. Learn more about what it means to be part of the Farmers' Market Brigade.

Why APACC cares

One of APACC's goals is to "Enhance the quality of life of residents and other stakeholder in communities near the river by improving access to economic opportunities, affordable housing, wellness and healthcare, and parkland and other outdoor recreation opportunities." Food fits squarely into wellness and healthcare.

Susie Cambria