Frenchtown Heritage Market provides low-cost healthy choices

Frenchtown Market building art. Photo courtesy Tashai Smalls

Located at 524 N Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the heart of historic Frenchtown, the Frenchtown Heritage Market makes healthy food choices available to the community every Saturday morning. The market accepts payment in the form of SNAP, WIC, cash, debit and credit card.

“I feel like people in low-income communities are constantly working just to survive,”  said Carolina Bances, Marketing Director of the Frenchtown Market and Garden. “Therefore, they cannot afford high-priced healthy food options in stores.”

Bances shared their thoughts on the impact that the farmers’ market and garden has on the Frenchtown community. They expressed that this market and garden increases local ‘food literacy’ by allowing locals to become exposed to healthy foods, learn how they benefit from eating them and begin indulging in healthy eating habits.

“This market is the only farmers’ market in Tallahassee that allows government benefits like SNAP and WIC to be used to purchase food making healthy food options accessible to all people regardless of their financial background,” Bances said.

Owner Toni “Pokey” Rose and her Pokey Pies stand at the Market. Photo courtesy Tashai Smalls

Co-director of the market and garden, Rachel Conversi is passionate about the Frenchtown garden and its abundance of greens.

“The garden is a beautiful natural resource to the community and has an abundance of healthy options to choose from,” Conversi said. “The garden changes as the season changes. Right now, we are full of greens such as collards, kale, mustards, cauliflower and broccoli that is accessible for the locals to take at no cost to them. The garden is open Monday through Saturday. Locals can freely take what they need without asking anyone.”

Bances longs for the garden to educate and improve community relations amongst the locals using health and wellness as the driving force.

“One of our main goals is to focus on creating a relationship of reciprocity with the locals,” Bances said. “The more they visit the garden the more they are inclined to learn about the healthy options we have and how eating them can be a life-changing benefit to their bodies.”

In addition to providing access to vegetables and greens at the market, shoppers are also able to visit the vendors with homemade sweets and crafted items.

Former Florida A&M University professor Toni “Pokey” Rose is the owner of Pokey Pies that can be found at the market.

“I have traditional, vegan, diabetic-friendly and gluten-free sweet potatoes,” Rose said. “I sell out of vegan and diabetic-friendly pies by the end of the day. People are becoming more conscious of what they are eating and by working at a health-based farmers market, I love to provide healthier options. We grow our sweet potatoes at home, so everything in my pies is quality controlled.”

Prospective vendors are encouraged to stop by the office to apply to sell at the market. The vendor fee is only 20 dollars per week, which includes a tent, tables and chairs. Those interested in selling produce are extremely encouraged to apply.

To find more information about next week’s farmers’ market, visit their Instagram.