Flourishing in East Palo Alto

Celebrating Success at the
East Palo Alto Community Farmers’ Market

Celsa Ortega of Induchucuiti Organic Farm, explains how the opportunity from Fresh Approach to be a vendor at the East Palo Alto Community Farmers’ Market changed the trajectory of her path as a farmer.

“I was about to stop agriculture because I asked myself if this was really worth it for my family and I. Being a vendor at this market was a huge help and has helped me reinstate my faith that I am in the right field. I’m thankful to have this economic opportunity for my family and I. Also, getting to actually socialize with customers has been a new venture for me.”

The East Palo Alto Community Farmers’ Market launched in 2007 by Collective Roots in response to the community’s need of access to fresh, healthy produce.

17 years later, it’s thriving: every Wednesday at Bloomhouse, the market is actively creating opportunities to build stronger relationships between the people of the East Palo Alto community, the farmers who produce the food, and the community-serving organizations.

On the first day back last month, the market had the biggest turn out of vendors and community organizations tabling; and a record number of folks visiting the information booth for Fresh Approach’s Fruit & Veggie Savings Programs, for an opening day market.

To be exact, a little over 200 folks walked away from the market’s information booth with increased spending power to purchase more fruits and veggies: those who participate in CalFresh/EBT, are recipients of other governmental aid, or face challenges with food access can qualify to obtain a supplementary $10 to spend at the market on fresh produce.

Not only are folks from East Palo Alto, who have been historically been under resourced, able to access more nourishing food for themselves and their families; the small, BIPOC farmers at our market like Celsa, are able to earn more from the increased sales for their products.

Looking back at last year, Fresh Approach provided $68,154 in Fruit and Veggies Savings; in other words, nearly $70,000 of fresh fruits and veggies were purchased by community members from East Palo Alto, that went directly into the pockets of the farmers.

With these programs, everyone walks away more nourished than before they arrived at the market.

17 years later, it’s flourishing: every Wednesday morning between April and November, Fresh Approach staff set up the market for our farmers as vendors, as the community members gather for the freshest fruits and veggies in the city.

Fresh Approach’s South Bay Food Access Program Manager, Isabel Medina, shares her vision for the future of the market.

“We want to continue the vision of community gathering around healthy food and expand it further by collecting input from the folks who frequent the farmer’s market because it’s the members of the East Palo Alto community that are collectively shaping the future of the market. In listening to the needs of our shoppers, we have new vendors, offer more space for community-based organizations to table weekly, host nutrition education food demonstrations, provide free exercise classes like Zumba, and provide educational resources on gardening and composting. Ultimately, we want to continue cultivating, expanding, and deepening the East Palo Alto Community Farmers’ Market as a multi-purpose community hub.”

If you’re interested to learn more about Celsa Ortega or the Fruit and Veggie Savings Programs available at the East Palo Alto Community Farmers’ Market, we encourage you to check out the links below!

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