By Jayda Frazier, Marcy Houses resident
Three years ago, I got an offer to work at the Woodhull Youthmarket operated by GrowNYC in partnership with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. I was so excited to get my first job while I was still in high school. It’s now my third summer at the farmers market, and I am a rising sophomore at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
My first summer at the market, I went to training early on a Saturday morning by myself feeling a little nervous. I saw a lot of people from different walks of life. I also felt intimidated because they knew a lot about food and all I knew was how to order a bacon, egg, and cheese from the corner store. The first day, my coworkers and I set up tents, tables, signs, and produce. We had fruits and vegetables, including peaches and purple carrots, that were new to the community because there’s so many unhealthy fast food restaurants and non-organic goods.
I learned more about my coworkers. Jaidah lives in Marcy Houses just like me, has a beautiful baby boy, and knows so much about the community. My other coworker Britney was working to graduate high school early, and also lived in Marcy. By our second year, Tracey Capers, Executive Vice President at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, who first hired us, called us “the triple threat.”
A few weeks ago, a guy named David came up to me and asked, “Why do you do this?” My response was, “Because this makes people happy.” I didn't just like working with my new friends, but I also looked forward to seeing how happy our customers got because we were there. Customers always ask, “What days are you here?”, “How long will you be here until?”, or “Are there more markets?”, because this is something we’ve been wanting in our community.
GrowNYC operates many farmers markets, but the one at Woodhull is one of several markets run by youth that GrowNYC operates around the city. This is important work because it teaches people about healthy foods, and they can then go do great things with them. Customers always give us different recipes to try with the produce we sell. We also do demos to show them ways to include our produce into their own dishes or for them to simply try it so they can come up with their own ideas.
My work at the market has been effective for me in many ways: It strengthened my team working and customer service skills, and now as a college student, I’m most pleased that I’ve been able to come home and still do this to make my community healthy.
Come visit the Youthmarket on Wednesdays. It is located at Woodhull Hospital at Broadway and Flushing Avenues, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is open until November 27, 2019.