Eat Your Veggies
Date: May 29, 2007 Section: Health
by Pat Jones
for The Chronicle, Centralia, WA
The 2007 season of the Community Farmers Market in Chehalis starts June 5, and Market Manager Brenda Book is looking forward once again to the prospect of providing nutritional eating and healthy food choices for local families and seniors. Book said the Community Farmers Market is dedicated to supporting the local agricultural community, and is the only local market in which low-income women, infants and children (WIC), as well as senior citizens in the Senior Nutrition Program, are provided vouchers for the purchase of fruits and vegetables through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
"It's an amazing program," said Mike Peroni, president of Community Farmers Market and owner of Boistfort Valley Farms.
Through WIC and the senior program, he said, the market probably witnessed somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent of its combined income from those vouchers.
"Customers love it, and we get to serve a clientele that might not have access to farmers' market quality food. The kids are always there with them (parents), and nine times out of 10 the kids are making the purchases. We sell a lot of strawberries and carrots."
Heidi Peroni of Boistfort Valley Farms said, "Mike worked on the WIC certification and we've really, really enjoyed the program. It's good for the families, but it's also good for us as local farmers because it has developed a market we weren't reaching."
CFM each week provides fresh vegetables, pickles and preserves, local milk and cheeses, culinary herbs, fruits and berries. They also sell cut flowers, landscape plants, breads, cakes and pastries, dried lavender, canning goods, and local art and crafts.
The Chehalis markets are held on Boistfort Street between Market and Pacific streets in downtown Chehalis and will continue each Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. through Oct. 16. For information call 740-1214 or look on line at www.lewis.wsu.edu/family/cfm.html.
Melissa Everson of the Lewis County WIC Program provided the following: "Approximately 25,000 individuals have the opportunity to purchase Washington-grown fresh fruits and vegetable. Fifty-three WIC agencies provide the dollar benefit and nutrition education to young families, and 81 Washington farmers markets and approximately 800 growers participate.
Packets of $2 checks at a value up to $20 are distributed June through September to participants through WIC agencies across the state. Participants redeem their checks for Washington grown fresh fruits and vegetables at authorized farmers markets, such as Chehalis' Community Farmers Market.
No change is given for the checks. Instead, authorized growers accept the checks, have them stamped with a unique identifier and cash them at local banks.
WIC and Senior Farmers Market programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Washington state general funds. They are administered through a collaborative effort between Washington State Department of Health, Department of Social and Health Services, Washington State Farmers Market Association. local WIC clinics, Area Agencies on Aging and Senior Nutrition Providers.
"I'm really pleased to have them (vouchers) available in Lewis County," said Cricket Ross of Pleasant Valley Farms, a farm that grows vegetables used most commonly in salads she sells at the Community Farmers Market.
"I grew up in Olympia, and they (vouchers) were available in Olympia when my kids were growing up," said Ross, who as a young mother used similar vouchers herself and was an advocate for introducing those vouchers in Chehalis.
Copyright © 2007-2020, The Chronicle
, Centralia, Washington. Reprinted with permission.