Healthy By Design Gardeners' Market

- This will be the 4th year for the market. It has grown from a handful of vendors and customers to an average of 11 vendors and 150 customers per week. The market began as a grassroots initiative to bring fresh fruits and veggies closer to the Southside. The USDA classifies this area as a food desert, meaning no supermarkets exist; therefore, families are served by convenience stores and fast food chains. Local growers can set up at the market without paying; this in turn encourages the vendors to offer their produce at a more affordable rate. Additionally, Master Gardeners' will be offering activities for children at the market each week, and local nutrition experts and dietitians will be doing cooking demonstrations with the fresh produce.

Exciting changes for the market include moving from the RiverStone Health parking lot to South Park, located in the heart of the Southside. This location brings the market closer to low-income families and puts it within walking distance for those without reliable transportation. The market is every Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. from June 12 through October 2.

Also new to the market for the 2014 season, vendors will be able to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) and debit and credit cards. Currently no other farmers' market in Billings accepts SNAP benefits. Accepting SNAP benefits allows clients to purchase nutritious local foods and support local farmers--a true "win-win" situation. The market also accepts Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) checks.

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