By Jenna Solomon for The Gazette
Healthy By Design Gardeners’ Market kicks off another shopping season Thursday from 4-6 pm at South Park, South 28th Street and Seventh Avenue South. The market will continue every Thursday until October 6.
The Healthy By Design Coalition, created in 2010 by Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health and St. Vincent Healthcare, works to make the healthy choice the easy choice throughout Yellowstone County.
The coalition opened the market in 2011 to provide a source of affordable, fresh produce to the South Park neighborhood, which is a food desert lacking a full-service grocery store. The market is open to all. Support from the entire community helps the market thrive and grow.
Markets in June typically offer onions and green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, kale, and beet greens. Later, you will find sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and much more. Eight out of 10 customers surveyed last season said the Gardeners’ Market helped them eat more fruits and vegetables.
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Last year’s market averaged 12 vendors and more than 200 customers weekly. Montana vendors do not pay a fee to sell their homemade or homegrown products. That helps keep prices affordable. Vendors must complete the required training and contact the market manager at 406-651-6444 or [email protected] at least two days before each market to reserve a space.
In 2021, Gardeners’ Market patrons contributed more than $40,000 to the local economy, with the majority of those dollars supporting local farmers and ranchers. On average, produce sold at Gardeners’ Market travels less than 20 miles on market days.
The market accepts cash payments, debit and credit cards, SNAP, WIC Farm Direct checks, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons. To use your debit, credit, or SNAP card, check in at the tax booth at the market entrance to request tokens. The tokens work like cash or SNAP benefits.
This year, we are pleased to once again offer double SNAP dollars. This allows us to offer up to $30 each week when you use your SNAP card to buy fresh produce. In other words, your purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables with your SNAP benefits of up to $30 will be matched, doubling your purchasing power.
Gardeners’ Market is currently the only market in Yellowstone County that accepts all of these payment options.
The Gardeners Market is designed for accessibility. Five parking spaces marked for the disabled will be located near the market entrance.
The weekly Gardeners’ Market has become a destination for shoppers of all ages. The musicians will perform throughout the season. A variety of community organizations will have informational booths. Reading Rocks is new to the market this year with free children’s book and storytime at 5:15 pm starting June 16 through July 21.
Stay up to date on market offers with our weekly newsletter at http://www.hbdyc.org/market.
You are invited to visit and enjoy the Gardeners’ Market every week.
Jenna Solomon, Preventive Health Specialist at RiverStone Health, manages Gardeners’ Market on behalf of the Healthy By Design Coalition. She can be reached at 406-651-6444 or [email protected]