With a two-pronged mission of empowering the youth and reducing food insecurity on Long Island, the Baldwin’s Farmers’ Market reopened this year last Saturday at the Baldwin Long Island Rail Road along Sunrise Highway between Milburn and Brookside Avenues, and is scheduled to run every Saturday between 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until Oct. 30.
Run by the Cedarmore Corporation, a Freeport-based non-profit organization which aims to “improve the educational, social and emotional development of youth representing the diverse population of families from the New York metropolitan area,” the market was youth run and managed.
Denise Jones-Smith, the acting director, emphasized how these projects impact our youth, she said, “Being successful is definitely helping the youth. Teaching them all about horticulture, teaching them about fresh fruits, how they can use the fruits for different recipes, and learn how to grow their own.”
Nana Appiah-Agyemang, 21, began working at the farmers’ market last year. He said that this was above all a learning opportunity, “Success is showing young people more adversity when they’re younger, so when they become older they’re more inclined to succeed. Fail first to succeed later.” Nana highly recommends the apple cider donuts and peaches.
Adisa Johnson, 19, started working at the Baldwin Farmers’ Market about five years ago. He is currently the manager, picks up the produce from two to three farms out east at 5 a.m. “I would just like to get more people in here,” Johnson said. “Areas like this are a food desert, so I’d like to get healthy fruit to the community.”
Sheila Lyle, a board member, volunteer and satisfied customer, added weight to Johnson’s words. “Vegetables are very, very fresh, the fruit is fresher than you can find in the grocery store,” she said. “We want to alleviate or erase the food deserts in the community.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most of the food deserts on Long Island are located in Suffolk County; however, areas in Glen Cove, Freeport, Hempstead, Long Beach, Roosevelt, and Uniondale had more than 67,500 people with limited vehicle accessibility live more than a half mile from the nearest supermarket.
As of 2019, 33 percent of the population above Merrick Road and below Atlantic Avenue in Baldwin were more than half a mile from the nearest supermarket, and In North Baldwin, about 6 percent of households had no access to vehicles to drive to the nearest supermarket.
Even though the pandemic further exacerbated food insecurity, according to Nassau Comptroller’s 2020 report, this summer Key Food’s SuperFresh supermarket opened in North Baldwin, occupying the former Pathmark location, which closed and remained unused since 2015.
Jones-Smith discussed how Cedarmore still ran the farmers’ market last year during Covid — they implemented a drive-by format, in which residents could select the produce from a menu and volunteers would deliver directly to their vehicles.
Customers Thelma and Richard Zimmerman mentioned that they didn’t attend the farmers’ market last year as the line of cars was too long. However, this year they bought their daughters corn and scallions. They said that they were pleased with the market, “It’s wonderful. It’s hard to find a farmers’ market this day and age — they don’t run very long.”
This year’s market is presented in partnership with the New York State FreshConnect Program, Sanitary District No. 2, Nassau County’s Department of Human Services, Office of Youth Services and the HempsteadWorks Career Center, with special thanks to Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Christopher Carini, and County Legislators Debra Mulé and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams for their support.
“After adapting last summer to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are delighted to once again offer the full farmers’ market experience that patrons look forward to each weekend,” Abrahams said.
Patrons can shop online at www.CedarmoreFarms.org and can get more information about the market by calling (516) 378-3415 or texting FarmFresh to 474747. In addition to cash and credit card payments, the market accepts Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks and Senior FMNP vouchers, which are distributed by the Nassau County Office for The Aging.