By Gina Martinez

Flushing residents, from seniors to kids, attended the Flushing Greenmarket launch, which will provide the neighborhood with fresh vegetables all summer long.

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce partnered with “Grow NYC” to help launch the 2017 season of the Flushing Greenmarket Wednesday morning at Maple Playground in downtown Flushing. The greenmarket will be open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., until Nov. 22.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) attended the launch, which featured a free performance of “Cinderella Samba” from the city Parks PuppetMobile for children. The market will provide local residents with access to fresh food from New York farmers. This year’s Greenmarket includes bilingual nutrition education workshops, cooking demonstrations, seasonal celebrations, and family-friendly activities, according to John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce.

Workshop participants will receive a $2 Health Bucks coupon to purchase fruits and vegetables. The farmers’ section has expanded to include baked goods, soup, cider and more from Dutchess County, N.Y. Breezy Hill Orchards, Seton Farm Inc., Knoll Krest Farm, Lani’s Farm and R & G Produce are some of the participating farmers.

Koo, who helped fund the program with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, was excited to see a program like this come into the Flushing neighborhood.

“People ask why we need a greenmarket because we have a lot of supermarkets here,” he said. “But this is different. When you sell stuff on the street, especially fruits and vegetables, people pass by and buy because they don’t have to go on a special trip. Also, the vegetables here from the farm are fresher, their shelf life is longer than the vegetables you buy from an average supermarket.”

Koo said the greenmarket also makes it very convenient for residents to buy and is beneficial to the community’s health.

“Another thing is that they take food stamps, EBT and credit cards. It’s very convenient,” he said. “This may increase the community’s daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, which is good. We want all individuals to incorporate more vegetables into their diets. When individuals are more healthy, the community gains, they don’t have to go to the emergency room, they don’t get sick as often, they live longer lives.”

Choe said Flushing is proud of its culture, but the neighborhood has room for improvement. He said he hopes the greenmarket will be a catalyst for encouraging other businesses to offer more organic and locally produced foods.

“I think, in the public mind, farmers’ markets are associated with wealthy neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn,” Choe said. “I feel that even though we are heavily immigrants and we are heavily working class, our neighborhood deserves those kind of amenities that other neighborhoods already benefit from.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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