Eating local in the Strafford region

SAMM_farmersmarkets_2016

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On any given Wednesday in the summer I shut down my computer at 5 pm, hop in the car for my commute home, and head straight to the outskirts of downtown Dover for the weekly Farmers Market held at the Chamber of Commerce. I peruse the stands, including a stop at a few of my favorites such a Leaven, Karmiah’s Kitchen, and McKenzie’s Farm and leave with fresh veggies, bread, and delicious Lebanese cuisine. There is nothing better than making dinner from ingredients that were grown and crafted within miles of my front door. I sometimes take for granted how lucky I am to have these resources available to me, just blocks from my apartment.

Dover’s weekly farmers market isn’t the only one I can easily access either. The Dover market is just one of the eleven markets that are held in the Strafford region, which translates into 61% of SRPC communities hosting markets during the summer or winter.  The seacoast in its entirety boasts over 20 summer season markets and over 10 winter season markets spread throughout NH and ME.  Some of the newer markets in the Strafford region, including Somersworth (held every Thursday during the summer) and Rochester (held every Tuesday during the summer), are easily accessible on my drive home as well.  These markets are organized by a variety of organizations and municipalities, and offer many resources, items and experiences other than great local food options. Apart from great veggies, meat, dairy, bread and beer, these markets provide entertainment in the form of music, local crafts and apparel, benefits for SNAP/EBT users, cooking demonstrations, and other items not to be missed out on.

The SNAP/EBT program is maintained by Seacoast Eat Local and is available at the following markets in the Strafford region: Durham, Dover, Somersworth and Rochester (summer) and  Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford (Winter). Customers using EBT at these markets are allowed to trade funds from their EBT account in exchange for tokens to be used at the markets. Current programming allows for matching funds of up to $10 at each market so that customers can double their available spending amount. In addition, Seacoast Eat Local runs a “Close the Gap” day, which is a great opportunity for SNAP/EBT users to receive $20 in free local produce on the last market of each month. In conjunction with this program Seacoast Eat Local and COAST recently launched a service of providing free bus rides for those who might not be able to otherwise get to the Farmers Markets (the ones which are located on the COAST bus route –such as Dover, Rochester, & Somersworth). The program is supported by a grant awarded to Seacoast Eat Local and a variety of other community partners.

Seacoast Eat Local also launched another initiative for those who may not be able to easily make it to the markets called the Seacoast Area Mobile Market (SAMM). The SAMM van accepts SNAP/EBT benefits like the local markets do, and also serves all members of the public. It currently travels to locations such as Lamprey Health Care in Newmarket, the Farmington Community Action Program office, the Elizabeth Seton School in Rochester, the Milton Town Beach, senior housing facilities in Dover, and a few other locations. The products available include in-season greens and vegetables and an assortment of dairy products, baked goods, and meat when available. This program is made possible by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Healthy Food Fund, as well as by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Thomas W. Haas Fund.

Other programs such as cooking demonstrations were just added at the Somersworth Market by the Strafford County Public Health Advisory Council: Obesity and Nutrition Workgroup, of which SRPC is a member.  These cooking demonstrations will be from a book entitled Good and Cheap that is focused on the concept of eating well for $4/day.

For more information on the days and times of our local markets visit:

http://seacoastharvest.org/market/.

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*This article was written with input and information from:

http://seacoasteatlocal.org/

http://www.seacoastgrowers.org/