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Last month, Land Yoga hosted a free yoga class in Morningside Park in collaboration with Down to Earth Markets, who has a farmers market in Morningside Park on Saturdays during the summer, and has done so since the year 2005. I had the chance to talk to Keely, an employee of Down to Earth as well as many of the vendors who sell their produce at the market. Keely tells me that the farmers market helps connect people with their community and those who grow their food. The location attracts customers because it is in a green space, near public transportation, and is currently the only market in the Harlem neighborhood.

Farmers markets give people the opportunity to meet with farmers and those who produce their food, to know exactly where their food is coming from, to know what methods were used to grow or produce their food, and also gives them a way to connect with their community and the food that they eat in a great way. Urban areas, much like New York City, have access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown foods through the presence of farmers markets. This is what makes them so important to our city, our residents, and our community. Much of New York is filled with fast food restaurants, delis and supermarkets with little to no availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers markets give communities with no access to these foods, or what we call “food deserts,” access to the fresh, sustainable, local foods that everyone deserves.

Farmers markets are well known all throughout New York City, in different boroughs and neighborhoods. We often see the tents of vendors in parks all throughout Manhattan, but what makes them so different from grocery and food stores? Farmers markets bring consumers closer to their food. We get to meet the people who grow and prepare our food, something that doesn’t happen in grocery stores. Farmers markets create a sense of community in various neighborhoods. Collaborating with local businesses, receiving feedback from shoppers, farmers markets are a way to create change within a certain area.

Acevedo’s Farm, located in Orange County, has been selling at the Morningside Park farmers market for 4 years. They think that farmers markets are important mainly because they give people access to fresh foods. Living in the city lessens our connection to our food, and farmers markets bring that connection back to New Yorkers.Sohha Yogurt, based in New York City, has been with the Morningside Market for about a year. I spoke with one of the vendors, who told me that she likes farmers markets because they provide food that is fresh, and without preservatives. She likes the farm to table food options and how it brings fresh food to the people of New York City.
I spoke with The Peanut Principle, a vendor that sells peanut butter and other spreads, who had only been at the farmers market four times. He stated that farmers markets have helped him expand his business. He also enjoys meeting his customers on an individual basis and the diversity of people in New York. Karl Family Farms, located in Modina near New Paltz, are grateful for farmers markets because they support small, local businesses and individuals, rather than huge chains and corporations.

Finally, I spoke with a vendor from Momo Dressings, located in Brooklyn. He thinks farmers markets are important because they help farmers and producers connect with the consumer directly in comparison to selling products wholesale to supermarkets.

Farmers markets are a great way to connect with your community. Yoga and healthy, sustainable living go hand in hand. Farmers markets help build community just as our studio does. Land Yoga and its students come together to create one outcome, a peaceful, safe place to practice. Farmers markets bring people and farms together to create a community between producers and consumers.Yoga is something that helps keep people grounded, calm, and at one with their mind as well as their body. Farmers markets help people stay connected to the Earth because they enable people to find out exactly where their food is coming from. They are able to become one with their community through farmers markets, meeting people, and meeting the farmers that grow their food. Yoga helps create a community within certain neighborhoods, as events are planned, friendships are made, and dreams are found. When connecting two things that bring a community together at once, the outcomes are infinite and incredible.

My passion for farmers markets, food justice, local and organic foods began when I took a class in high school that stressed things like community access, gentrification, and food deserts. I learned that many neighborhoods in New York City do not have access to healthy, fresh, or local foods. I knew from that point on, that I wanted to make a change. I knew I had to help make healthy, fresh, organic, and local food available to everyone, regardless of where they live or how much they make. I found my passion in this, and am currently studying Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Food Systems, in order to ensure that every person has access to these very important parts of our food system. I saw the importance of this issue and related it to applying for an internship here at Land Yoga. Yoga has always been a very important part of my life, and has changed it in many ways, so I know it has the ability to change the lives of others. My goal while working at Land was to see the other side of a yoga studio, running events, social media platforms, and reaching out into the community. Seeing Land Yoga’s collaboration with Down to Earth Markets and Lara’s contribution to the Harlem community, I knew that this was a place where I could begin my journey towards helping others and creating change. 

Land Yoga will be at Down to Earth Markets on Saturday, August 9th at 11am for another FREE YOGA class.  Bring your own mat! Looking forward to meeting you!