By Bill Parry

Astoria will have its third greenmarket this summer. City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) announced last Friday he is committed to allocating $10,000 in city funding to open a new Youthmarket in Ditmars Park that will operate every Saturday through the fall.

GrowNYC will operate the Youthmarket with community partner Global Kids from July 9 through Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Ditmars Park, located on Steinway Street between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard. The other operations are the Socrates Greenmarket at Socrates Sculpture Park and the Astoria Greenmarket on 14th Street between 31st Avenue and 31st Road.

“Eating seasonal and local produce is important for our nutrition and to help support our local farming economy,” Constantinides said. “This Youthmarket will make local produce available for more Astorians, while exposing children to valuable lessons about the environment, business and nutrition.”

The new Youthmarket is part of a network of urban farm stands that employs neighborhood youth to sell food grown in area farms as well as provide nutritional education and cooking demonstrations. The young adults learn about economics, business, eating seasonally and supporting farms.

“Our Youthmarket program is a unique model that teaches neighborhood youth to run a farmstand, supplied by GrowNYC’s own wholesale distribution arm, Greenmarket Co., while also helping them be ambassadors for healthy, seasonal eating to their families and neighbors,” GrowNYC executive director Marcel Van Ooyen said.

Youthmarkets sold more than 300,000 pounds of affordable fruits and vegetables throughout the city in 2015. GrowNYC operates 14 Youthmarkets in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. This will be the first Youthmarket in Astoria.

“Youthmarket brings together many issues Global Kids students are passionate about—food justice, environmental sustainability and youth empowerment,” Global Kids Executive Director Evie Hantzopoulos said.

Constantinides, who serves as the chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, said Youthmarket in Ditmars Park brings another benefit besides providing a needed resource to the community. The program fits with the vision of a greener city.

“Buying local produce also reduces pollution that would be created through transporting food long distances.” he said. “As we move closer toward our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, we must ensure that our children are learning how to continue to combat climate change.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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