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Farmers’ market eyed for downtown Flushing

Miriam Haas, founder of Community Markets, is hoping to start a farmers’ market alongside another outdoor market...

By Alexander Dworkowitz

A farmers’ market offering fresh fruits and vegetables from upstate New York may soon open in downtown Flushing, the market’s organizer said.

Miriam Haas, founder of Community Markets, is hoping to start a farmers’ market alongside another outdoor market in front of the Flushing Mall on 39th Avenue between College Point Boulevard and Prince Street.

“Queens is sort of an untapped market,” said Haas. “There are so many people in Queens and many people want fresh produce, so this seemed the logical next step.”

Community Markets started when Haas organized a farmers’ market for her hometown of Ossining, N.Y. in 1996. Today, her group runs 12 markets throughout the state, including the farmers’ market in Jamaica, one of the oldest in the city.

The non-profit organization Council on the Environment of New York City runs the borough’s other farmers’ market in Jackson Heights.

The Flushing stand would sell fruits and vegetables such as beets, carrots, apples, pears, beans, corn and tomatoes like other markets.

Although she was excited about expanding into Flushing, Haas cautioned that there was only about a 50 percent chance that the farmers’ market would actually open.

The space provided on the mall’s property is relatively small, she said. Farmers usually sell food out of their own trucks, but only two farmers would have room to park their trucks in the designated area.

Haas was unsure how many vendors she could secure for the site.

“I would hope to have four, but if I would only have two that would be too few,” she said.

If the market does come to Flushing this year, it will open some time in the next two weeks and be in business every Friday until the end of October, Haas said.

Otherwise, the possibility would still remain that the market could come to Flushing next year.

Community Markets originally considered opening up a market in the Queens Botanical Garden, but the Flushing Mall was chosen because it was considered a more visible site.

Haas views the Flushing Mall as a good location since a Women, Infant and Children’s food stamp program office is in the building.

The state and federal WIC program provides free coupons for fresh food to seniors and children, coupons which farmers at Community Markets can accept.

Community Markets’ plan to open in Flushing has received the support of many community members.

“It’s a good idea,” said Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7. “These are very popular.”

Haas said she thought the upstate farmers would find ready customers in Flushing’s diverse population.

“It seems like all of the different nationalities are all interested in cooking with fresh produce,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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