Farmers’ markets make organic produce accessible to low income residents

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After months of planning and many weekly meetings, farmers’ markets are coming to south Adams County this summer and fall. Sponsored by Community Enterprise, a nonprofit organization based in Commerce City dedicated to engaging and uniting community members to build sustainable, healthy and inclusive neighborhoods, the farmers’ markets will allow low-income community members an opportunity to go home with organic fruits and vegetables.

“The markets will have a pay-what-you-can model so that people can take home what they need using the money they can afford,” said Lisa Schott with Community Enterprise. “We will have suggested donation prices for items, but we still want people to feel comfortable paying what they can at the markets.”

There are three farmers’ markets set for south Adams County with the first happening on July 20 at Scott Carpenter Middle School, 7001 Lipin St. in Denver. The two other markets will be in south Thornton and south Westminster. The markets are part of a county-wide effort to promote healthy eating and active living in these parts of the county.

For the past year Schott has been working with LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living. She said community Enterprises received $1.2 million grant from LiveWell Colorado to incorporate healthy eating and active living strategies over a nine-year period.

“We started doing surveys, assessments and interviews in the south Adams County area including Westminster, Thornton and the Perl Mac neighborhood,” Schott said. “We asked them about their challenges related to being healthy and active in their community and the strengths in their community. From that, we started putting together action plans.”

For both south Westminster and south Thornton, part of those action plans included a community farmers’ market. Schott said since the beginning she’s had good participation from the communities with people very excited about the opportunity to have a farmers market right in their back yard.

“It’s been really interesting how involved and engaged people are in this process,” Schott said. “At one meeting we were discussing what success meant in terms of the markets and some people said making sure everyone gets enough food. But then one person raised the point that it’s already successful because it’s happening. That kind of mentality shows that people are excited things are happening that they can be a part of.”

Schott said most of the fruits and vegetable for the farmers’ markets are either being donated by local farmers or being purchased from local farmers. She’s hoping in the future the farmers will see the interest in the markets and set up their own produce stands to sell their products.

For more information on the farmers’ markets or to get involved with the markets, call 303-288-4783. All proceeds from the markets will go back towards future markets.