Healthy By Design Gardeners’ Market
The Healthy By Design Gardeners’ Market is a place where you can buy local produce direct from gardeners and farmers. It is returning to South Park this summer with increased emphasis on family-friendly activities! The activities and events include:
- Power of Produce (POP): Activities aim at encouraging children to sample new fruits and vegetables. At the first Market, children plant an herb garden to take home. The monthly POP activities, which include making salsa and dissecting a lima bean, are done in partnership with the City of Billings Parks and Recreation, Billings Grown Garden Initiative. Each child who participates gets a $2 voucher to spend at the Market.
- Live music: Local musicians will perform at the first Market. In addition, musicians will be performing on the second and fourth Thursdays throughout the season. The Market opens with Nathan Stahley playing hand drums and Roger Dereszynski playing guitar to perform what they consider campfire music. On June 22, Ed Kemmick performs old-school country music on acoustic guitar and harmonica.
- Gardening tips: Each week the Yellowstone County Master Gardeners answer gardening questions and offer children’s activities that include planting seeds and transplanting flowers.
- Story Time: The Billings Public Library and the Library Foundation’s First Chapter Society host “Reading Under the Trees,” an all ages reading circle. The reading circle starts June 15th at 4:30p.m. and continues on the first and third Thursdays through August.
- Cooking tips: Experts from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) answer cooking questions about produce and highlight using fresh produce in healthy meals on a limited budget.
- Walk, bus, ride: If you use active transportation to the Market, such as walking, riding bicycles or taking the bus, you can get a punch card with incentives to promote healthly lifestyles.
Last year’s Market averaged 11 vendors each week and had an average weekly attendance of more than 150 customers. Vendors pay no fee to sell at the Market, but they must take a short training and call the Market manager two days in advance to reserve a spot.
The Gardeners’ Market accepts cash, debit cards, credit cards, WIC nutrition program benefits and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP participants can double their spending power, using up to $10 of their SNAP funds each week to buy up to $20 in produce through a dollar-matching incentive program.
“Though partnerships with the Public Library, Parks and Rec and other groups, we’ve been able to expand family-friendly activities to bring new shoppers to the Market. While the idea was to bring fresh, affordable produce to the South Park neighborhood, the Market is open to everyone,” said Maia Dickerson, the Gardeners’ Market manager. “Since the first market is so early in the growing season, it tends to offer salad fixings, including leafy greens like lettuce, kale and beet greens.”
The Healthy By Design community coalition created the Market, which is now entering its seventh season, as a way to make fresh food more available and more affordable. For questions please contact the Gardeners’ Market manager at 651.6444 or firstname.lastname@example.org