Bringing healthy food to where it is needed most is one of the goals of the first Somersworth Farmers Market.

By Judi Currie

June 05. 2015 4:37PM

SOMERSWORTH — Bringing healthy food to where it is needed most is one of the goals of the first Somersworth Farmers Market.

Set up on the campus of Goodwin Community Health (GCH), organizers celebrated the new venture with a ribbon cutting on Thursday.

Each week vendors will be bringing fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and maple syrup to Somersworth.

Lara Willard, director of marketing and community relations at GCH, said it is their hope that the market will help with one of the program’s goals — reducing obesity in Strafford County.

“We have a couple of areas that are considered food deserts in Somersworth, where there’s a lack of access to fresh food,” Willard said. “So we’re trying to bring access to nutrition and healthy food.”

Liz Clark, public health prevention coordinator for GCH, manages the farmers market. She said a group of volunteers helped make the market a reality. “We figured this was a very good location right off Route 108, a bus stop right out front and it’s a high-traffic area,” Clark said.

Goodwin Community Health partnered with Strafford County Public Health Network to set up the farmers market.

An additional partnership with Seacoast Local allows people to use SNAP benefits. Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP benefits come in the form of debit cards to be used at stores.

Sherri Nixon of Seacoast Eat Local said they run a customer’s SNAP card and give them tokens to use at the market.

“We also give them a market match coupon for $10 good for fruits and vegetables,” Nixon said. “It not only allows them to use their benefit at the farmers market, it gives them an incentive to shop as well.”

Nixon said because products grown locally don’t spend hours in trucks, buying at the farmers market is good for both the local economy and the environment.

The SNAP match is also available at summer farmers markets in Dover, Durham, Portsmouth and Exeter, and winter markets in Rollinsford and Exeter.

Dan Comte, of the Root Seller Farm in Nottingham, had a wide variety of dried beans for sale.

“Our primary rotation in the fields is potatoes, beans and wheat,” Comte said. “We should have potatoes by the Fourth of July. In the gardens we have a handful of smaller seasonal vegetables.”

Deborah Sousane of Greenleaf Farms in Dover brought an assortment of fresh baby green and some starter plants of eggplant and tomato along with soaps and flowers.

Leaven Beer and Bread House of downtown Somersworth had a variety of breads and fresh-baked pretzels.

At the Family Busyness table, Patricia Gingrich showed off her handmade tea cozies, baby blankets, pillows and bibs.

Willow Creek Sugar House, LLC of East Kingston had a variety of maple products.

Marybeth Stocking and Jordan Pike of Two Toad Farm are in the eighth year as full-time farmers in Lebanon, Maine. They had a large selection of fresh vegetables and some seedlings.

Pike said he is excited to be a part of the farmers market and really likes Goodwin’s approach to healthcare.

“The fact that they want to do something like this matches well with what Two Toad Farm is all about: getting food to the people,” Pike said. “It’s important for people to have access to fresh local food and not just options that are trucked in from far away or processed.”

Sanborn Hope Farm offered pasture-raised pork and grass-fed beef. Located in Rochester, they are open weekends and also have chicken.

Other vendors included Pheasant Ridge Farm and Shady Mountain Farm.

Clark said Blueberry Hill Farm would join the market once the blueberry crop comes in.

Joseph Gelinas, shopping with his wife, Irene, said he was in GCH and saw a flier about the market and is really looking forward to having fresh, local produce all summer.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this in Somersworth. You could go to Dover, but why not Somersworth? We’re a city, too,” Gelinas said. “As the months go by they’ll have tomatoes and cucumbers and you know it is going to be fresh.”

Mary Moynihan, outreach and enrollment specialist for GCH, set up a table with information about health insurance. They provide assistance to people who want to sign up for either the Affordable Care Act or the NH Health Protection Program.

Mayor Dana Hilliard said he is filled with pride that the city has its first farmers market. “This is great for the community, it is great for the residents and a great day for Somersworth,” Hilliard said.

The Somersworth Farmers Market will be open every Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. now through Sept. 24.

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