Although some Elis may think Wooster Square has little to offer besides pizza and cannolis, USA Today would beg to differ.
CitySeed Farmers’ Market was recently labeled by USA Today as one of its “10 Great Markets to Cultivate Organic Farmers.” The list, compiled by Alice Waters — co-owner of Chez Panisse and renowned sustainability activist — features farmers’ markets from around the country. CitySeed was one of only two East Coast farmers’ markets selected for the list, which also included the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.
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Gordon Jenkins ’07, a member of Waters’ staff, said the famed restauranteur chose farmers’ markets that assist local growers and foster a sense of community. He said Waters was particularly impressed by CitySeed’s focus on accessibility.
CitySeed executive director Jennifer McTiernan said she was pleased to see the market recognized for its serviceability.
“We were thrilled with the USA Today article, not just because it mentioned the market that we run, but because it specifically listed that we were accessible to the community,” she said. “Though I think that there’s definitely more we could do to make that more of a reality, it was exciting to see the work that we have done in that area being recognized.”
CitySeed comprises four separate markets, located in downtown New Haven, Wooster Square, Edgewood Park and Fair Haven. USA Today singled out the Wooster Square market, the original site of CitySeed, for its award.
Since its start in 2004, CitySeed has accepted Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons, as well as food stamps, in order to allow low-income New Haven residents to shop there.
McTiernan said taking food stamps is symbolic of the program’s welcoming atmosphere.
Douglass Endrizzi ’10, who used to work at the market’s Yale Sustainable Food Project stand on Saturdays, said CitySeed has allowed him to meet more New Haven residents than he ordinarily would during the course of his life at Yale. Endrizzi said he became involved with the market during his internship with the YSFP over the summer, when he spent one day each week selling the program’s goods at the various CitySeed Markets.
“It’s this incredible community where you can talk to people about the foods they’re buying, and the recipes they plan [to] make with them when they get home,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point where I will now run into people that I met at the market and talk to them on the street. It has made this big anonymous city into someplace small.”
Despite the increased publicity the market has enjoyed over the last few years, McTiernan said she would still like to boost its public profile. CitySeed may post flyers around campus and run tours across the Green to increase awareness next season, she said.
“We’re always interested in getting the word out, especially to … food stamp recipients, and in making more of a connection to the University,” McTiernan said.
Debbie McCormack, owner of Voda Artisanal Soaps, said she has been coming to the market since it first opened. Although her soaps are marketed online and in stores around the country, she said she continues to make the weekly trek to the farmers’ market because of the opportunity for person-to-person contact that it offers her.
Ben Gardner, one of the two program directors for CitySeed, said the market makes farming a more personal affair.
“There’s this interaction, this relationship, with the food people consume and the people who grow it,” Gardner said “This market really lets people see the face behind the food.”