CitySeed brings locally grown food to Broadway

Fresh produce and fresh faces will grace Broadway’s Market Island today as farmers, vendors and community members come together for the location’s first-ever farmers’ market.

With the support of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs and the Yale Sustainable Food Project, CitySeed — a local non-profit organization­ — is bringing goods grown and produced in Connecticut to the Broadway District as part of its mission to engage and connect “communities through food.” From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, vendors will be selling everything from snickerdoodles to soaps with the hope that this event will spark community interest in local goods.

Charles Alvarez ’09, who worked with CitySeed last summer as a Presidential Public Service Fellow, presented the idea of an on-campus farmers’ market to Yale administrators this summer. He said that CitySeed had envisioned a venue such as Beinecke Plaza that would be both visible and accessible to students and community members.

While legal and tax issues prevented outside vendors from using campus property to sell their goods, Alvarez said he thinks the Broadway location will still draw interest from the Yale community.

“[Broadway is] a location that’s ingrained with students’ idea of the campus,” he said.

Shana Schneider of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs said that today’s event is a trial run, but that vendors have expressed interest in the possibility of continuing to sell their goods close to Yale’s campus.

“Yale has made eating healthy a priority with its sustainable food project and with organic foods in the dining halls,” she said. “This is really an extension of that.”

Farmers’ markets currently take place downtown on Wednesdays, in Fair Haven on Thursdays, at Wooster Square on Saturdays and at Edgewood Park on Sundays.

CitySeed board members said that buying and eating locally has a positive impact on the local economy because farmers invest the money they generate from sales back into the New Haven community.

Jennifer McTiernan ’99, the Executive Director of CitySeed, said that in the 2005 market season, New Haven’s four farmers’ markets had a local economic impact of over $1 million.

“The farmers’ market is a wonderful community gathering place, an exercise in community building that infuses money into the local economy,” she said.

Students working for the Yale Sustainable Food Project will be selling produce from the Yale Farm alongside local vendors at the market.

Laura Hess ’06, the Program Coordinator of the Sustainable Food Project, said some of the vendors present at the event provide the organic food in the Yale Dining Halls. She said that High Hill Orchard, the farm that supplies the dining halls with apples, will have fruit for sale at the event.

Even though today’s market is for one day only, Hess said she hopes that it will help students realize that the walk to Wooster Square for the Saturday farmers’ market isn’t “an insurmountable journey.”

Although CitySeed is not directly managed by Yale, the organization has a strong connection to the University. Three of its four founding board members, including McTiernan, are Yale graduates.

“We’ve had a connection to the University since the beginning,” McTiernan said, “and it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor to bring local foods near campus.”

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