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Farmers’ market grows in downtown Jamaica

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Late July and early August mark the start of harvest season for many fruits and vegetables grown in New York state. For that reason, the outdoor Jamaica Farmers’ Market has expanded on 160th Street and Jamaica Avenue — making room for more produce and more customers.

Open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, the market offers fresh food to people who live, work and shop in Jamaica, nearby Queens communities and Long Island.

“With more farmers offering more varieties of fruits and vegetables, we feel the Farmers’ Market will become an even greater asset to the life of downtown Jamaica,” said Helen Levine, the vice president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, which sponsors the market.

The market is particularly busy early in the morning, but according to merchant David Haughton, customers keep coming throughout the day.

Haughton’s peaches, apples, potatoes, carrots, apricots, plums, corn, tomatoes and other produce come from upstate New York in July through November.

Long Island farmers are also represented at the market, which is just outside the indoor mall and food court in Jamaica Center. Amid the food products, outdoor merchant stands sell a variety of clothing and non-edible gift such as key chains.

The market, which was established 25 years ago, was just moved to 160th Street at Jamaica Avenue this season, a change the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation feels will be beneficial to business.

“Setting up stalls at Jamaica Avenue, along with new signs, tents and other amenities, will make the Farmers Market more obvious and attractive to people walking or driving past the site,” Levine said.

Haughton has already noticed an increase in customers. “It is better than last year,” he said.

Sonia Paredes works at a Jamaica Market stand that is in operation from April until November and offers a variety of potted plants and flowers in addition to food.

Paredes said the plants are a hot item, along with the melons.

Other goods available in the market include lettuce, cucumbers, cabbage, onions, beets, zucchini, hot peppers, collards and cilantro.

The market will host special events, programs on nutrition, demonstrations on preparing different types of produce and celebrations through the fall.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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