NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A project of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Johnson & Johnson, and the City of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market (NBCFM) increases fresh fruit and vegetable access for local residents while supporting New Jersey farmers. The markets are open three days per week at two locations in the city, providing opportunity for multiple farms to sell their products. Vendors accept SNAP as well as WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers for eligible products, and the NBCFM doubles the value of these benefits, up to $10 per day! While fresh fruits and vegetables are the featured items, farmers and vendors also bring local honey, baked goods, cut flowers, and handmade crafts including jewelry and soap to select markets. In operation since 2009, the NBCFM has a long-standing tradition of providing free, on-site services that include nutrition education, health screenings, and gardening opportunities for residents, encouraging the development of healthy habits for long-term wellness.
Building on the nutrition education program developed for adult market customers by Nurgul Fitzgerald, extension specialist and associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Expressive Arts 4-H introduced to the NBCFM in 2019 creative arts nutrition education activities for youth. The youth activities employ various arts approaches to promote healthy eating and fitness. Youth learn about such topics as portion control, safe and fun physical activity, and the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables through arts media that includes puppetry, visual arts, music, movement, and roleplaying. Ellen Williams, expressive arts 4-H agent and associate professor, says, “Because the children are actively engaged in these “hands on” creative arts activities, they are more inclined to recall and apply the health messages.”
During a suspension of in-person programming due to COVID-19, the youth program adapted by sharing educational videos via the NBCFM web site and providing take-home activity kits to families shopping at the market. “It worked well to offer socially-distanced options during the pandemic, but we’re very happy to welcome youth back to the outdoor markets in person this year,” commented Lauren Errickson, senior program administrator with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the coordinator of the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. In celebration of National Farmers Market Week, the NBCFM is pleased to offer a special activity for youth led by Ellen Williams.
On Saturday, August 7th, youth are invited to visit the NBCFM between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for a hands-on activity in which they will learn about choosing healthy snacks while they color a backpack with their favorite fruits and vegetables. Ellen Williams shared, “After the activity, the children can wear their backpacks home, filled with fruits and vegetables from the farmers market!” The activity will be ongoing during the open hours of the market, outdoors under the NBCFM pavilion at 178 Jones Avenue, New Brunswick.
To learn more about the NBCFM youth activities, and for a full market schedule and list of farmers and vendors, please visit http://nbcfarmersmarket.com.