The Hamilton Healthy Food Connections program, offering financial assistance for fresh foods at local farmers markets, is returning in 2021.
“We see this as an extension of that neighbor who sneaks onto your porch and leaves you a couple of whatever they’re growing,” says Ben Strader, Director of the Blue Mountain Center. “It’s local food and local people, sharing.”
In 2020, Hamilton Healthy Food Connections program began with funding from the Adirondack Foundation’s Sudden and Urgent Needs Fund – a Covid-19 relief fund dedicated to meeting immediate, pandemic-related needs here in the Adirondacks. The program, organized by Blue Mountain Center’s Hamilton Helps Project and the Indian Lake Community Development Corporation (ILCDC), was intended to help Hamilton County residents access fresh and healthy food at nearby farmers markets. It offered $20 “farmers market certificates” redeemable for any fresh produce or meat at Hamilton County farmers markets.
While a State program exists with similar goals, Healthy Food Connections organizers wanted to help make it even easier to enjoy local food during a challenging year.
Thanks to a strong network of food pantries, senior meal sites, and community leaders, certificates were distributed across the county to those who could use them. “Our food pantries and meal sites do a terrific job, and their connection to the community is one of many reasons why they are such great partners and the inspiration for this program,” said Hamilton Helps Co-Coordinator Sawyer Cresap.
By the end of the 2020 season, $1,200 in local food had been redeemed. “One market manager told us that last year she saw several new faces at the market thanks, in part, to these certificates,” said Ryan Felder, Co-Coordinator at Hamilton Helps.
This summer, the Healthy Food Connections program is slated to continue, thanks to ongoing support from the Adirondack Foundation, ILCDC, and local donors – and with other long-term solutions in mind. “It’s important to us to continue seeking opportunities for growth beyond what might currently be considered possible in Hamilton County. We hope this will be a long term project and can imagine many ways to build on the hard work being done locally, ” said Felder. Those who would like to learn more, get involved, and help support this effort can visit HamiltonHelps.org.
“This program is all about Hamilton County residents working together,” said Cresap. “The volunteers who run our farmers markets are our neighbors and friends, and they have built a great system for all of us to get more fresh food right here in our towns.”
2021 Hamilton County Farmers Markets include:
Long Lake Farmers Market: Thursdays, 10 AM – 2 PM, Mt. Sabattis Lower Parking Area
Market Season: June 24 – September 2, 2021
Indian Lake Community Farmers Market: Saturdays, 10 AM – 2 PM, Indian Lake School Lawn
Market Season: July 3 – September 25, 2021
Speculator Farmers and Crafters Market: Thursdays, 2 PM – 5 PM, Town Pavilion
Market Season: June 24 – September 16, 2021