East End Farmers Market brings fresh food

Kaitlyn Hughes| staff writer | Rebekah Brewer is the owner of Bekah Farms located in Cabot, Pa. She grows and sells an assortment of fresh produce including peppers, watermelon, cucumbers, beets and more.

Kaitlyn Hughes | Staff Writer

More than 15 farmers markets are located throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs. Next to a playground on Larimer Avenue, the East End Farmers Market is held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday night until November 20 to provide healthy food choices for members of the East Liberty community.

Farmers market manager Vanessa Calderon said healthy eating is a priority at these markets.

“We are promoting local fruits and vegetables, farmed fresh stuff,” Calderon said. “We are promoting local food vendors, like hot foods and meals and, also, different types of small gifts and all kinds of local stuff basically, promoting local foods and products.”

A prime example of a local vendor with fresh produce is Rebekah Brewer from Bekah Farms, located in Cabot, Pa. Brewer went to Delaware Valley University where she studied commercial crop production. She has been attending farmers markets for 17 years, and has been growing her own crops for 11 years.

“We grow everything except the tree fruit, so that would be the pears that are currently on the table,” Brewer said.

At her table, Brewer had a variety of fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, watermelon, beets and green beans. According to Brewer, the markets are a source of fresh produce to the community, and all of her own produce except the pears were picked on the day of the market.

“It gives people high nutrients at a good value,” Brewer said. “It allows people to come together and build community.”

Education on the benefits of healthy living is an important factor when creating a farmers market. Teresa Yoder worked the Adagio Health Inc table, where visitors could learn about the advantages of healthy eating and activity.

“We are here to promote nutrition and [are]encouraging folks to purchase anything and everything from the farmers market, but especially fruits and vegetables,” Yoder said.

Other categories of natural products, including beverages, were also available to consumers.

One of these beverages, containing antioxidants and caffeine, Yerba Mate, is used as a source of nutrients in Paraguay.

Christine Fuller, was promoting the benefits of Yerba Mate, an organic product from Paraguay with natural stevia.

“My brother [Brian Daniels] who owns the company was an exchange student about 20 years ago down in Paraguay. He just started the company a few years ago, and so he worked with the manufacturer down there,” Fuller said.

Promoting the local farmers markets is important to show support for the workers behind the scenes of these events.

“There is a lot of communication with the vendors, bringing in new vendors, navigating relationships and trying to support people,” Calderon said.

Malachi Pugh is one of the volunteers of the East End Market.

“I dedicate a couple hours every Monday to come help set things up, make sure people have the stuff they need, like bags. Make sure people are being greeted whole-heartedly and make sure our vendors and the customers feel welcome and safe around each other,” Pugh said.

A prominent struggle for the market is attracting members of the community. This is a result of the new location of the East End market.

According to 10-year farmers market volunteer Ralph Santoliquido, the East End market used to be much larger.

“The parking lot we used, they [the city] sold it to make housing,” said Santoliquido. “It became smaller after that.”

The commitment from vendors and volunteers has not dwindled even though the amount of foot traffic has decreased in the area.

“There is always something to build on when you’re trying to do farmers markets,” Pugh said. “But the blessing of it is seeing people come together.”