Project Harmony: A People's Market Grows in Harlem

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Cindy Nibbelink-Worley first planted seeds at The Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden aka Project Harmony in 1985. With help from a crew of high school volunteers from City Volunteer Corps, Cindy transformed the Harlem garden from an abandoned lot. Since then, Project Harmony has grown into an urban oasis complete with a CSA pick-up site and a now, a brand-new community-run farmers’ market.

“I’ve always wanted to have a market here, but last spring I realized more and more that I wanted a people’s market--it’s about reaching the entire community,” says Cindy. 

The market is run by the people for the people, hence the name--Harlem Harvest People’s Market. Launched in 2014, this Spring, Cindy and a few of her neighbors attended Just Food’s market trainings and joined the organization’s farmers’ market network.

Just Food provides training and resources for community members like Cindy looking for ways to make fresh, local food affordable in their neighborhood. Just Food provides access to market insurance and trains market groups to accept government nutrition benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), making fresh local produce accessible to low-income community members. Just Food-trained Community Chef Bonita Cruz also offers weekly cooking demonstrations to show market shoppers healthy, delicious strategies to prepare seasonal produce on offer at the market. 

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Market Manager Kenny unloading produce on market day.

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Cindy at Project Harmony Community Garden in Harlem.

Now, each Thursday throughout the season, Project Harmony's Harlem Harvest is selling fresh, seasonal produce from Claudio Gonzalez’s farm in upstate New York. Project Harmony first connected with Claudio in 2008 to start a CSA with the help of Just Food, and he’s been delivering fresh food to the garden ever since. Cindy credits the CSA for having a significant impact on the success of the market.

“The CSA and market really build on each other, and it also supports Claudio. He has such beautiful produce. When people see others picking up their CSA share, they want to come check out the market to get some for themselves,” she says.

Alongside Claudio’s fresh vegetables, the market sells fresh herbs grown in the Project Harmony garden like dill and lemon balm, as well as squash blossoms. The market also offers honey collected from the garden’s beehives and mulberry preserves and jams made fresh from the garden’s mulberry trees. Over the next few years, she hopes to add baked goods and other added value products to the market selection, as well as more produce grown by neighborhood gardeners.

“There are gardeners with their own individual beds,” says Cindy. “It’d be wonderful to work hand in hand with them to bring their produce to the People’s Market.”

Cindy hopes that over time, the People’s Market will continue to connect people in the community.

Support food justice--shop at a community-run farmer's market! Click here to find one in your neighborhood.

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Farmer Claudio Gonzalez and Just Food's Farmers' Market Network Manager Nadia Johnson unloading produce.