By Sam Levin
DAILY NEWS WRITER on Wednesday, June 22nd 2011
A new farmers market is planting roots in a plot of Queens that organizers say is a food desert, with slim pickings for healthy, affordable produce.
Locals working with the Queens Community House in Flushing will launch the weekly market on July 7 in partnership with two schools and a newly planted community garden.
"What makes this unique is it's a farmers market for the community by the community," said Amy Tam-Liao, an organizer with the group's Pomonok Center. "We hope that it will generate the interest of people in the area to eat locally and to eat green."
The market, at 67-09 Kissena Blvd., will get its produce from a farm in Pennsylvania, Pomonok's own vegetable garden and a 4-acre farm at the nearby John Bowne High School.
"There is nothing natural around here," said Veronica Class, 50, who lives in the Pomonok Houses, a local public housing project. "This is very important for the neighborhood."
The Thursday market will accept food stamps to encourage low-income residents to shop there. The market's planning committee also is reaching out to senior citizens, who often can't travel far for healthy food options.
"This is not just for people with money," said Elaine Lawres, 64, who lives in the Pomonok Houses and is on the committee. "It's very important that it's affordable."
It's an opportunity for community-building, too, said Rebecca Lozada, principal of Public School 201, who wants to partner with the group through its community garden. "It's a great way for children to have ownership over their learning," Lozada said of the educational benefits.
Diana Metasky, 81, of Electchester, said the market will also be a community hub. "This will be a place to socialize and meet friends," she said. "It's a chance for people to get to know each other."
The push for the market came after the Queens Community House conducted surveys last fall with 80 local residents.
It found that 34% shop for produce 12 or more blocks away from their home and 83% want to include more fruits and vegetables in their diet.