The Main Plaza Farmers' Market emerged from hibernation on Tuesday, deep in the heart of downtown San Antonio. The market will be open until December every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Water from the Main Plaza’s underground fountain surged at rhythmic intervals, creating a melody for the bustling market. Customers perused the stands, exchanging money with farmers for vegetables, eggs, fresh bread, and more.
Urban Spice Farm organic farmer Karen Haynes sells herb and vegetable seedlings at markets throughout San Antonio.
“People get to come out, walk around, chat, see friends, experience wonderful food and the people who grow it,” Haynes said. “The more contact we have with each other, I think the nicer we might be to each other.”
Other markets, such as the Dignowity Hill and Collins Garden Farmer’s Market, also are ramping up around San Antonio. Dignowity Hill had its inaugural market last weekend and the Collins Garden Market opens this Sunday, and will continue every first and third Sunday of the month until the end of November. The Pearl Farmers Market expands from Saturday to Sunday this month.
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Jovanna Lopez, co-founder of the Collins Garden Farmer’s Market, said the market will provide cooking demonstrations for healthy recipes.
"The main focus of this market is to educate the community about how to incorporate more vegetables and fruits in their everyday meals. With alarmingly high rates of obesity and diabetes it’s time to take our communities back and help alleviate the suffering," stated Lopez in a news release.
The San Antonio Food Bank partnered with the Main Plaza Conservancy to make this farmers' market available to low-income families. Eric Cooper, President of the San Antonio Food Bank, said the goal was to not only give families access to good nutrition, but also access to a market in their neighborhood.
“It’s been great to see customers who live downtown come out and participate in the farmers' market,” Cooper said. “Downtown is a vibrant place and we are in this momentum of developing a wonderful city, and things like a farmers' market enhance the quality of life for everyone."
The Main Plaza Farmers Market accepts food vouchers from families on the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) plan, and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program gives families $30 to spend on fruits and vegetables. Farmers also accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits via the Lone Star Card.
Councilmember Roberto Treviño (D1) said downtown San Antonio is considered a food desert, or an area of town without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food – much like the Eastside is, as noted by Councilmember Alan Warrick during last week's market in Dignowity Hill. The Main Plaza Market is here to bridge the gap between living downtown and eating healthy food.
“This is how we promote living in downtown, and helps address how people live and thrive,” he said. “It’s all about bringing people together.”
Haynes said that by getting to know the source of our food, we develop a stronger sense of food security. “We must not eat processed food with corn syrup and sugars, coming in every shape and variety. We wonder why we have all of these health issues, and it’s because we’re eating poison.”