Welcoming immigrants to Pittsburgh farmers markets

Como usar su tarjeta de food stamp (ACCESS), credito o debito en las ferias de verdurasNepali translation of poster about how to use the Fresh Access food stamps at farmers markets program

Through our Fresh Access program Just Harvest has been working to make farmers markets more accommodating of the refugee and immigrant communities in Pittsburgh’s metropolitan area. With sign translations and vendor recommendations on what culturally specific foods to grow, we are working with several immigrant groups, including the Bhutanese, Somalis, Burmese, and Latino immigrant communities.

The majority of the immigrants and refugees, especially the elders, come from extensive farming backgrounds. Partnering with Grow Pittsburgh and other related non-profits, we have been looking for ways to bring these farming techniques to local community gardens and Pittsburgh farmers markets.

The first wave of immigrants that helped build the city of Pittsburgh would recognize much of itself in the newer waves that are now reaching our city and helping it to flourish. Some are already successful entrepreneurs, like Quiroz Farm at the Beechview Citiparks Farmers Market.

For those that are still struggling to adapt to their new lives and country, we should remember that agriculture is indeed the first form of culture. Making the foods that these cultures recognize available to them helps them assimilate and feel welcome in our communities.

These efforts also bring new energy to existing local gardening and farming initiatives taking place in the area. For example,

Below is a list of vegetables requested by the Bhutanese, Nepalese, and Spanish communities. The ones in bold are not typically found at markets currently but can be grown in Pennsylvania’s climate. The first few can typically be found at markets but are of particular interest to the refugee communities listed.

In working with them to translate our Fresh Access signs (above), posters and brochures, they pointed out the need to use the words “Fresh Market” or “Outdoor Market” instead of “Farmers Market.” A market where shoppers can buy directly from farmers may not be novel to them the way it is to us.

Yet the goal of making shopping at farmers markets more commonplace for all area residents and more profitable for our region’s farmers is something we all share.

  • Green Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Chilies
  • Radishes
  • Mustard green leaves
  • Eggplants
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Bitter gourd
  • Snake Gourd
  • Sponge gourd
  • Bottle gourd
  • Dicama ( similar to a bamboo shoot)
  • Tomatillos
  • Ancho peppers
  • Guajillo peppers
  • Okra
  • Green onions
  • Pumpkin shoots (Pumpkins are typically already for sale but the shoots and leaves are popular in cultural dishes and should also be sold at markets.)
Seeds for these vegetables can be found on the following sites:

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One Response to Welcoming immigrants to Pittsburgh farmers markets

  1. Avatar
    Mary Washington May 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    This really is such a great idea. An awesome way to help more people feel not only welcomed but, comfortable in a farmers market.

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