It was with heavy heart that I stopped by Urban Farms Market Friday afternoon to say goodbye. The market – a remarkable endeavor to bring fresh food to the under-served neighborhood of Binghampton – is closing until next spring.
The market received its last produce deliveries from local farmers Friday and will sell its fruits, vegetables, and groceries through Thursday. Then it will shut down, re-group, and reopen in April or May, depending on crop availability, explained market manager Catherine Neal, pictured here along with Andrew Gross and Jane Mpayimana.
The decision to close the market, located at the intersection of Sam Cooper and Tillman, came about in the past month or so when the Binghampton Development Corporation, which directs the market, decided to reevaluate how to better educate neighborhood residents about the benefits of fresh food, according to Neal.
“Our mission is to serve the neighborhood, but so many people don't know the importance of eating fresh produce,” Neal explained. “And many of them aren't shopping with us as much as we'd like.”
Future endeavors could include a produce stand near the market's sister farm located nearby and community classes in a teaching kitchen at the Binghampton Development Corporation's new headquarters, also slated for Tillman between Sam Cooper and Walnut Grove.
Urban Farms opened in the spring of of 2011 in a former gas station renovated by a committed group of volunteers who hoped to make a difference in one of the city's most publicized food deserts. The market provided a handful of jobs, a community gathering spot, and fresh local produce at prices far below farmers markets. Urban Farms also promoted local groceries, such as Rock Springs milk (try the strawberry!) and baked goods and coffee from local purveyors.
Starting Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., these products will be discounted to help sell the market's inventory by next Thursday. For instance, a 2-pound bag of J Brooks coffee, normally $19, will be $15, and bottled drinks will be 99 cents.
Urban Farms Market, 2977 Broad Ave.