(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
The tomatoes are ripe, the bread is freshly baked, and the South Boston Farmers’ Market is open for business.
Located on West Broadway, sandwiched between Bank of America and Mt. Washington Bank, the market offers a little bit of everything to hungry South Boston residents including local produce, fresh fish, homemade pies, and even bike repair.
“The market makes it easier for residents to get fresh produce straight from the farm to the table,” said Mary Lou Rosher, manager of the market and coordinator for the South Boston WIC program.
Going on its 11th year, the market, sponsored by the South Boston Community Health Center, provides an alternative to the supermarkets or the sometimes expensive niche food stores. It also allows residents a chance to talk and congregate along the busy roadway.
“The market brings people together and allows them to communicate and allows us to promote good health,” Rosher explained.
Affordability and access is also a key component to the market. Although the prices aren’t always lower than the chains, the food is straight from local farms and discounts are offered through the city’s Bounty Bucks program, senior discounts, and WIC programs.
“I think everyone is buying into the idea of getting healthy and getting out into the community,” said Rosher. “It’s important to not only feed your body, but your mental and social health as well.”
On Monday residents were looking over the tomatoes offered by Wenger Farm and eying the strawberries at the Freitas Farm’s booth as they chatted with neighbors.
Rosher estimated between 100-200 people visit the market every Monday.
“I look forward to it coming back every summer,” said Sister Elizabeth Calcagni, a local resident. “I love the produce and the idea of shopping somewhere where it’s all grown locally.”
The vendors at the market also see it as a way to not only help them cover their bottom line, but extend their local philosophy into communities where buying local isn’t always easy.
“There really aren’t as many fish markets as there used to be,” explained Ken Brown, an employee of the Cape Cod Fish Share, a community supported fishery. “[The fish share] is about getting fresh and locally caught fish into the community. People want something fresh as opposed to something that’s frozen that they have no idea where it came from.”
In addition to the delectable offerings the market also acts as a community catalyst, with a number of information booths from the Boston Cyclist Union offering tune-ups to the Boys and Girls Club showing off its summer programming.
“We found that a lot of people come to the markets by bike,” said Luis Sanchez, the head mechanic for the Boston Cyclists Union, a non-profit bike advocacy group. “While they’re doing their shopping we want to give them the opportunity to meet a mechanic and that’s where the connection starts.”
The market is open every Monday from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. excluding the first Monday of the month when it will be open from 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.
More information about vendors and events can be found on the market’s Facebook page.