MAYWOOD, Ill. – Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine students, staff and faculty and the Maywood Environmental Beautification Commission are joining forces to bring new health resources to the Maywood community. In addition to the array of farmers bringing their crops for sale, this year’s Farmers Market also will include a Farm-to-City basket program, cooking demonstrations, a walking club and a children’s wellness program called Wellness Wizards to encourage people of all ages to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.
Loyola is joining with local partners, including Urban Garden Connection, the Village of Maywood, Dominican University and the Maywood Public Library to sponsor the Maywood Multicultural Farmers Market. It’s held every Saturday from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., June through September.
“We hope to be a wellness hub in the community where people can not only come to find fresh fruits and vegetables but also engage with one another and learn how to make healthy choices a part of their lifestyle,” said Lena Hatchett, PhD, market organizer and assistant professor at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine’s Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy.
Loretta Brown, Maywood resident and market organizer, said, “Everybody who comes to the market enjoys it and we are growing. A customer sent an email saying, ‘The market is action-oriented and has a positive community spirit.’ We welcome seniors and people of all ages. We hope everyone comes out and brings their family, friends and neighbors."
Each week local farmers bring seasonal produce to the corner of Maywood’s 5th Avenue and St. Charles Road. With limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, this is a boon for local residents. In addition, many of the farms that provide the produce are independently owned, including farmers from Pembroke Township. It’s a reciprocal environment. The farmers provide much-needed fresh produce and the residents help support local farmers financially.
In addition, local businesses will also be on hand to provide products and services to the community. These include free health screenings from Loyola University Health System, dental screenings, chiropractic screenings, face painting, organic lemonade, health and beauty products and flowers.
This year the Farmers Market has teamed with Growing Power, Inc., a co-op of 10 area farmers, to provide Farm-to-City baskets, a way for residents to receive quality fresh produce at a low price. For as little as $9, people can order a basket filled with a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown by local farmers. The baskets come in three sizes and can be picked up at the Farmers Market.
“The baskets are a great way to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to the wider community. Someone who has never tasted an eggplant or zucchini might not be willing to buy it, but if it’s in the basket they are more likely to try something new,” Hatchett said.
“Since there has been such limited access to fresh produce in the community, many people are not familiar with the fruits and vegetables or how to prepare them. That’s why we offer cooking demonstrations, tasting experiences and provide recipes for people to take home,” said Tonya Nashay Sanders, PhD Faculty Lecturer, Stritch School of Medicine and market organizer.
Nutrition student Kelly Robers will be showing people how to cook healthy on a budget. Chef James L. Shirley, executive chef from Sauté, will bring his humor and knowledge of using fresh produce to help get people excited about eating right.
“We want people in the community to be exposed to the variety of produce that is out there. Let them see it, taste it, learn how to cook it and then hopefully it will become a part of their lifestyle,” Hatchett said.
A more extensive wellness program directed at grade-school children also will be an important part of the market this year. Hosted by Loyola Stritch School of Medicine students, the Wellness Wizards, a Harry Potter-inspired program, will help kids explore and learn “tricks” about eating healthy, fitness, hygiene and safety. The program will begin at the Maywood Public Library from 9 a.m. - noon every Tuesday and Saturday.
“Our goal is to make the market interactive. Help people get some hands-on experiences of making changes towards a health-and-wellness lifestyle. We don’t want the community to be a passive part of this – we want to get them engaged,” Hatchett said.
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