South Bronx Farmers’ Market: NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by Alexina Cather, MPH

What they do: South Bronx Farmers’ Market runs a farmers’ market in the heart of the poorest congressional district in the United States

How they do it: The market was started by community members and volunteers developed a survey and surveyed residents in the neighborhood to assess the need for a market, ideal dates and times and items residents would like to shop for at the market. Five women from the community took a course on starting farmers markets which covered policies, requirements, permitting, food subsidy programs and management.

Mission: The mission of the South Bronx Farmers Market, Inc. (“SBFM”) is to address the public health crises in obesity, diabetes, malnourishment and undernourishment by promoting access to nutritious, affordable, locally grown produce and related agricultural products for the under-served residents of the South Bronx. SBFM’s principal purpose is to further its mission through four principal activities: (i) operating a farmers market in the South Bronx; (ii) connecting farmers and under-served consumers in the South Bronx, e.g., facilitating community sponsored agriculture endeavors (“CSA”); (iii) organizing educational, food-related programming and offering that programming for free to the community; and (iv) promoting urban agriculture in the South Bronx, e.g., fostering collaborations with local community gardens.  SBFM 501(c)(3) organization.

Latest project/campaign: We are launching a fundraising campaign in the spring to help fund our offsite cooking and nutrition demonstrations in the community. We can take bilingual chefs into community spaces to give free cooking lessons, offer nutritional information and healthy eating tips, give out samples and recipes and distribute Health Bucks for attendees to use at the market. We also discuss all the subsidies food programs so shoppers on SNAP/EBT, WIC and FMNP programs can maximize their shopping and take advantage of promotional programs and subsidies. These off-site demos offer simple, easy and healthy food preparation ideas as well as encourage shoppers to attend the market.

Major Funding: The USDA for 2016/2017

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit, charitable organization

Annual budget: Under $20k

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Our market promotes locally-grown and sustainable  produce, dairy and meat which both increases healthy food access but also supports local farmers. Farmers at the market create very little waste with all vegetable stems, unused produce parts and cooking demonstrations food waste is given to the meat and dairy farmer to give to his pastured pigs. Crates and boxes are all reusable and the market offers some promotional programs to give out reusable totes to lower pressure on the waste transfer. The market partners with The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as well as Just Food to offer free bilingual on-site cooking and nutrition demonstrations every market day to promote healthier cooking and eating and also supports the farmers. The market offers free tours to any community group, school or organization that requests a tour and provides Health Bucks when possible for shoppers to spend. Our cooking demos have over 1000 direct participants through the season!


Location: Mott Haven, The South Bronx, New York

Core ProgramsSaturday Farmers’ Markets

Number of staff: Three part time

Number of volunteers: 10

Areas served: Mott Haven, regional farmers

Date started: June 2014

Director: Lily Kesselman

Contact information516.418.6355

Photo: Lily Kesselman

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