Community Farmers Market Educates About Healthy Habits

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—“How much of this?” 4-H assistant Laura Eppinger asked six year-old Olga, pointing to a jug of water.

“Three,” Olga said.

“How much of this?” Eppinger then asked, pointing to a bottle of distilled vinegar.

“One,” replied Olga.

The quick review was part of a free youth gardening program put on by the Rutgers 4-H at the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market on Jones Avenue on Saturday.

The focus of the program was teaching children how to properly wash produce, Eppinger said, as she and the 4-H volunteers assisted the young people in creating a simple solution to effectively clean their fruits and vegetables.

“We have a big focus on lead soil safety,” Eppinger said. “It can be as simple as don't eat something straight off the vine.”

Other tips for produce free from contamination can include keeping one's fingernails short and always washing one's hands, she added.

Eppinger said the two major sources of lead contamination within the city are lead-based paints that get into the soil, as well as leaded gasoline that may have gotten into the air and eventually into the soil.

In addition to the 4-H initiative, Rutgers provides SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Education at the Community Farmers Market as well, teaching people about the process for obtaining food stamps.

Saturday's focus included “Fact or Myth?” flash cards about protein and included information about different sources of protein, such as green vegetables like broccoli or spinach. One surprising fact is that many Americans actually eat more protein than they need for their weight.

“There are a lot of things that can be confusing,” said Anna Rosales, a member of the Rutgers SNAP Education initiative, speaking of the information available about the role of protein in an individuals diet.

The Farm Market also helps educate children by providing local youth groups with their own gardening space on site, said market manager Sara Dixon.

“We have some girl scouts who are here pretty frequently who help us take care of [the gardens] and help us play in it too,” Dixon said.

The Farm Market accepts all forms of food benefits, including WIC, FMNP, SFMNP, and SNAP. It also promotes rewards customers through a Farmers Market Card, through which shoppers can receive $10 worth of credit towards purchases by filling out short customer surveys, participating in nutrition activities and shopping at the market.

Shoppers can even earn a Farm Market t-shirt by interacting with the market on Facebook, Yelp or Twitter, or by taking a tour of the gardens or submitting a favorite recipe.

The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market features a wide range of produce, some of which is grown on-site.

These include vegetables such as sweet peppers, white sweet corn, beets, eggplant, green beans, kale, cabbage, cilantro and other herbs, as well as a variety of tomatoes.

Fresh fruits include melons such as honeydew, canteloupe and watermelon, peaches and nectarines, cherries, blueberries, and apples.

Elijah's Promise also sells a variety of baked goods on-site as well.

The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market operates from June through October at the Market Pavillion and Gardens at 178 Jones Avenue on Thursdays from 11 am – 3 pm and Saturday's from 10 am–3 pm.

The farm market also has a downtown location at 108 Albany Street on Wednesdays from 11 am–3 pm.