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Governor Cuomo Kicks Off Farmers' Market Season and Encourages New Yorkers to Take Advantage of FreshConnect Projects Across the State

New Website For New Yorkers to Find a FreshConnect Market and Learn More About Resources to Access Fresh, Healthy Farm Produce

June 27, 2012 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today officially kicked off New York State's farmers' market season, and encouraged New Yorkers to take advantage of the many projects and markets supported through the FreshConnect Program across the state. To assist New Yorkers in locating a FreshConnect market, the Governor announced the launch of http://freshconnect.ny.gov, a new website that allows New Yorkers to learn more about FreshConnect projects in their area.

The FreshConnect program includes farmers' markets, youth markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), and food distribution systems, all of which are designed to increase access to New York farm products in low-income and underserved areas and ensure New Yorkers in communities across the state can purchase healthy produce from New York farms.

"The warm weather has brought on an abundance of farm fresh produce, allowing our farmers to provide healthy food to New Yorkers in all corners of the state," Governor Cuomo said. "I am pleased to kick off the 2012 farmers' market season, and I encourage all New Yorkers to buy local and support New York's farms. This year, we have already doubled the number of projects supported by the FreshConnect program, and now more New Yorkers than ever can access a local market, helping support our state's farmers while putting fresh, healthy food on the table."

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, "Most farmers' markets are now open for the season, CSA memberships are flourishing, donation programs have commenced and people who would not otherwise have a means to enjoy New York's great agricultural bounty are finding it easier to do so – thanks to the Governor's FreshConnect program. We are pleased to provide assistance – both financial and technical – and look forward to a bountiful season."

Governor Cuomo awarded grants this spring to support creative, local solutions around the state to improve access to fresh, locally produced food by low-income or underserved communities. As a result, 34 projects at over 50 locations statewide will provide improved access to New York farm products. A wide variety of supported programs -- including subsidized CSA farm shares, increased ability to use Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at farmers markets, free transportation to markets, and new local food donation programs -- all make New York farm products more accessible to all New Yorkers. For more information on FreshConnect projects and to locate a site near you, visit http://freshconnect.ny.gov.

Featured projects now underway across the State include:

Downtown Jamestown Farmers' Market, 119 - 121 West Third Street Jamestown, NY 14701

The Downtown Jamestown Farmers' Market operated by the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation will run on West Third Street in Jamestown every Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. through late October. With support from the FreshConnect program, the market will be running promotions for the market in cooperation with the local public bus system, including discounted fares and market advertising on buses and at bus stops.

Rochester Roots Community Supported Agriculture, (CSA) Project, 190 Reynolds Street Rochester, NY 14608

Thanks to support from the FreshConnect program, Rochester Roots, Inc. will be providing 60 low income CSA shares at the Clara Barton School, one of the poorest school districts in the State. Pickup for the $21 weekly shares will be every Friday starting July 13, and customers will be able to use Food Stamp/SNAP benefits to purchase shares on a week-to-week basis.

Village of Newark Valley Farmers' Market, 9 Park Street Newark Valley, NY 13811

The newly established Newark Valley Farmers' Market will be open every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. through October 28. The Village of Newark Valley will be working with the Northern Tioga Neighbors Network to transport and assist handicapped, homebound and elderly who wish to shop at the new farmers' market.

Schenectady Greenmarket in Bellevue, 2176 Broadway Schenectady, NY 12301

The Schenectady Greenmarket in Bellevue will operate from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays and will build on the tremendous success of the Sunday Greenmarket by extending the benefits of a first class farmers' market to the Bellevue neighborhood, which now lacks a grocery store. The Bellevue farmers market will provide much needed access to fresh, healthy food.

Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension Fresh Healthy Produce in Corner stores, Kingston, NY, various locations

In this unique farm distribution system, the Kingston Farmers Market will acquire fresh produce from local farmers and deliver that produce to four midtown corner stores for 26 weeks. Farm product delivery will be complemented by cooking demonstrations, recipes and nutrition education for low income consumers.

GrowNYC Roberto Clemente Plaza and Cypress Hills Youthmarkets. Roberto Clemente Plaza at 3rd Avenue, Bronx, NY 10458; and Fulton Street between Richmond & Logan Streets (Cypress Hills) New York, NY 10007

GrowNYC will operate two youth-run farm stands this summer, giving local youth job training and experience and providing new access points for New York farm products. The new Roberto Clemente Plaza Youthmarket will open Wednesdays this summer starting July 11 at the Roberto Clemente pedestrian plaza in the South Bronx, providing citizens of this underserved neighborhood with a new place to purchase healthy, good-for-you New York farm products. The Cypress Hills Youthmarket will return after a successful first season last year, operating Fridays starting July 13 in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of Central Brooklyn.

EcoStation:NY. Bushwick Farmers' Markets & Community Outreach; Bushwick (Brooklyn), NY, various locations

Building on the success of the Bushwick Farmers' Market, EcoStation: NY is operating five farmers' markets – a mix of traditional markets and satellite sites – in Bushwick, one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods, making farm products accessible to the community on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. New community outreach efforts made possible by the FreshConnect program include visits to WIC, senior and community centers, and workshops centered around food and nutrition, ensuring that low income consumers have sufficient access to these markets and engaging customers to increase sales.

125th Street FreshConnect Farmers' Market, W. 125 Street at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Building New York, NY 10027

This central Harlem market opened June 12 and will operate every Tuesday through November 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., rain or shine. This year, the market is expanding the number of New York farmers and local vendors selling locally grown and processed foods, and offering a variety of free community activities.

For a full list of FreshConnect-supported projects, including operating dates, locations, and contacts for more information, visit http://freshconnect.ny.gov/programs.

To further assist FreshConnect farmers' markets across the state, the State will be providing FreshConnect Checks, a nutrition incentive for Food Stamp/SNAP recipients to use their benefits at FreshConnect markets. The checks are $2 coupons issued for every $5 of Food Stamp/SNAP benefits used at the market for the purchase of Food Stamp/SNAP eligible foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat. FreshConnect Checks will be made available at the beginning of July at FreshConnect farmers' markets throughout the State.

June marks the beginning of farmers' market season in New York State. Crops such as greens, asparagus, strawberries, peas, garlic, broccoli and more are all typically available from local farmers. New York has over 560 farmers' markets, a number that has more than doubled in the past ten years. Farmers' markets benefit city, suburban and rural residents by allowing them more and easier access to fresh food, and also help New York farmers enhance their margins by enabling them to sell directly to the consumer.

Data shows 1.5 million New Yorkers living in areas with limited supermarket access. Expanding fresh food access in underserved communities has been shown to improve nutrition and lower costs related to obesity and diet-related disease while fostering community and economic development. Farmers' markets, youth farm stands, CSA drop off sites in underserved areas help achieve this goal, and to further assist many accept Food Stamps and offer financial nutrition incentives, such as the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.

John Evers, Executive Director of Food Bank Association of New York State, said, "By working with local agriculture in new and creative ways, FreshConnect will encourage healthier eating and access to fresh produce. Often those most at risk have limited access to New York's wonderful produce. Governor Cuomo's innovative approach will allow greater use of food stamps at farmers markets, donation of fruits and vegetables from farmers to food banks, and a wider distribution of wonderful New York State grown produce. We applaud the Governor's continued focus on New York State's most needy in the area of nutrition."

Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, said "Farmers are in the business of farming because we enjoy producing local food for local people. Governor Cuomo's efforts to ensure that all New Yorkers in limited food access areas – either rural or urban – can have improved opportunities to consume our locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products is vital for the overall health and nutrition of many New Yorkers. New York Farm Bureau welcomes and supports the Governor's continued focus on food access issues, and appreciates the partnership with our family farmers."

Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York, said, "Farmers' market season is upon us and we are pleased Governor Cuomo has once again provided his support to help us reach an even larger audience through his FreshConnect Program. We have a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables ready and waiting at more than 560 farmers' markets throughout the State and we appreciate his assistance in making some of these venues more accessible to those in need."

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