Farmer’s markets await summer rush: Fresh fish on menu

By 
Elizabeth Murray, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 28, 2012

The Bowdoin Geneva Farmer’s Market — which opens for the season today— is one of nine across the city that will offer fresh-caught fish along with produce and other items. Above, face-painting was one of the attractions at the Bowdoin Geneva market during a block party last year. Photo courtesy Bowdoin Street Health CenterThe Bowdoin Geneva Farmer’s Market — which opens for the season today— is one of nine across the city that will offer fresh-caught fish along with produce and other items. Above, face-painting was one of the attractions at the Bowdoin Geneva market during a block party last year. Photo courtesy Bowdoin Street Health Center

Summer’s here – and so are farmer’s markets throughout the neighborhood.

For the Mattapan Farmer’s Market, run by the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, this is its sixth year in existence. According to Vivien Morris, the market was begun to meet the need for fresh food and produce. The farmer’s market is held in the parking lot of The Church of the Holy Spirit at 525 River Street.

Morris said the most unique aspect of the Mattapan Farmer’s Market is that it serves a bilingual community, so it offers language translation and assistance for all of its shoppers.

“We have a large Haitian American population, as well as others, and we accommodate all,” Morris said.

In addition to fresh produce and flowers, the Mattapan Farmer’s Market will be selling fresh fish for the first time. Mayor Thomas Menino announced in late May that the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives would be putting local, day-boat fish at Farmer’s Markets around Boston. Along with Mattapan, Bowdoin Geneva Farmer’s Market in Dorchester and Ashmont/Peabody Square Farmer’s Market in Ashmont Station Plaza will also be selling fresh fish.

Each Saturday different cultural activities will be held at the farmer’s market in Mattapan. During the opening on July 14th, there will be a youth violin concert group performance, story hour from the Mattapan Library, show-and-tell presentations on basic gardening, face painting and fitness activities. Later in the month, there will be live music, art exhibitions, and biking promotions by the Boston Cyclist Union.

“We’re there celebrating Mattapan every Saturday,” Morris said.
The Ashmont/Peabody Square Farmer’s Market will kick off its fourth year on July 6 at Ashmont Station with food vendors and a performance by the Irie Roots Band from Rhode Island. Dan Larner , director of the St. Mark’s Area Main Street, said the market hopes to have a band play at least every week. The market is located on the plaza next to the MBTA station, making the location key for the estimated 600 people who stop by each Friday during the season.

The market will feature fruits, vegetables, eggs, honey preserves and other foods from Springbrook Farm in Littleton; organic foods from Langwater Farm in North Easton; fresh fish from Reds Best Seafood; flowers, plants and herbs from Cedar Grove Gardens in Dorchester; and Italian sauces, pasta, breads, cheeses and prepared foods from Dorchester’s Tavolo Restaurant. The market accepts food stamps through Boston Bounty Bucks, where consumers can double the value of their stamps up to $20.

“Just the mix of the food and the music, it makes it a real gathering spot,” Larner said. “It makes it a real village type of an atmosphere.”
This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Bowdoin Geneva Farmer’s Market at 230 Bowdoin Street in Dorchester. The market was started by Bowdoin Street Health Center as a response to the need for more affordable healthy foods in the neighborhood. The center formed the Bowdoin Geneva Food in the Hood Committee to organize the market.

Traditionally, the market has sold mostly fruits and vegetables, but this year it will also be selling certified organic produce, eggs, fresh fish, and eventually bread and jams. Committee member Maura Beaufait said the farmer’s market is also a good place for people to use their WIC farmer’s market coupons as well as SNAP-EBP food benefits.

The Bowdoin Geneva Farmer’s market will also host a myriad of activities and games, like a Vegetable Circus, where children will learn about healthy eating and movement from acrobats dressed as vegetables on July 12, a back-to-school block party on July 30, senior day on Aug. 9 where seniors can take part in simple cooking activities, and a harvest festival on Sept. 27.

“It’s also just a really fun place to be, and to learn and hang out and celebrate food,” Beaufait said.

Farmer’s Markets in Dorchester and Mattapan include:
• Ashmont/Peabody Square Farmer’s Market - Ashmont T-Station Plaza - Fridays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. from July 6 to Oct. 19
• Bowdoin Geneva Farmer’s Market - 230 Bowdoin Street - Thursdays 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. from June 28 to Oct. 25
• Codman Square Farmer’s Market - Codman Commons in Dorchester - Thursdays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. from June 21 to Oct. 25
• Dorchester House Farmer’s Market - 1353 Dorchester Avenue - Tuesdays 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. from June 26 to Oct. 16
• Dudley Town Common Farmer’s Market - Dudley Street and Blue Hill Avenue - Tuesdays and Thursdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. from June 5 to Oct. 30
• Fields Corner Farmer’s Market - Dorchester Ave. at Park Street - Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. from July 7 to Oct. 30
• Mattapan Farmer’s Market - 525 River Street - Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from July 14 to Oct. 13
• ReVision Urban Farm Stand - Arbutus St. and Blue Hill Ave., Dorchester - Thursday, Friday and Saturday 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. from July 5 to Oct. 13
*Grove Hall’s Farmer’s Market is cancelled for the 2012 season