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This week’s edition!

Lewiston Farmers Market growing, thriving, making healthy food affordable

The Lewiston Farmers Market has grown by leaps and bounds this summer and is still going strong. In fact, September is the most bountiful time of the year for the market.

With summer vegetables still in full swing, and the addition of apples, melons and winter crops coming to market, shoppers now have the largest variety of produce available to them.

Over the past few years, more and more people have realized the health benefits of eating fresh, local, organically grown food, but many families have struggled to balance their desire to eat healthy with the cost of organic food. Customers at the farmers market have been pleasantly surprised to find that prices at the market often beat local grocery store prices.

For example, a half-gallon of organic milk costs $3.99 at local grocery stores, but only $3 from Balfour Farm at the market. One bunch of carrots priced at $2.99 at the grocery store costs $2 at the market. Cutting out the middleman and selling directly to consumers enables farmers to retain their profits while also passing these savings on to their customers.

The Lewiston Farmers Market’s double value coupon program, made possible through a grant from Wholesome Wave, continues to make healthy food more accessible and affordable for all members of the community. Through this program WIC and SNAP users can earn up to an additional $10 a week to use on any healthy food at the market. The program matches the first $10 spent with WIC coupons or SNAP/EBT cards dollar for dollar.

The addition this year of a larger Sunday market, held in the parking lot of Bates Mill No. 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m, has been a hit with the community. The Sunday market has attracted a regular clientele, as well as newcomers who enjoy performances from local musicians, free chair massages from Revelation Massage, pony cart rides and work from local artisans, in addition to a wide variety of Maine-grown and -raised meat, eggs, cheese, baked goods and, of course, fruits and vegetables.

For the vendors, The Sunday Lewiston Farmers Market has proven to be one of their busiest markets, second only to the Portland market.

Many market-goers have started to make the farmers market a regular part of their weekly shopping routine. The market provides the community the opportunity to support local farmers and businesses, bring fresh healthy food to their table and still stay within their budget.

The Sunday Bates Mill and Tuesday Kennedy Park Farmers Markets will be open at least through the middle of October, and the Wednesday St. Mary’s Farmers Market will run through September. Due to demand from the community, a monthly winter farmers market is currently in the planning stages that will run November through May every third Thursday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center at 208 Bates St. in Lewiston.

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