The main success of East New York Farms! is in its role as an important source of supplemental income to immigrants and people of color in this predominantly low-income neighborhood. Most vendors live in the surrounding neighborhood, hailing from South America and the Caribbean primarily, but also Africa and Russia. These urban growers generate income at the market by selling fruits and vegetables that they have raised in community gardens and private plots.
In addition, over 45% of customers receive food stamps, which fill critical shortfalls in household budgets and enable recipients to feed their families. Currently, two of the vendors accept the coupons, and when the market obtains an Electronic Balance Transfer (EBT) machine later this year, all vendors will be able to accept them. All the growers receive WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and Senior Coupons, and do well financially because of it.
Since vendors mirror the ethnic make-up of customers at the market, there is a strong feeling of community ownership. Like the sellers, customers generally come from within a 15-minute radius by foot (although there is access to public transit nearby to accommodate people who come from further distances). About half the customers are immigrants and of those 80% are from the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, etc.). The other 20% are either Russian or from Central or South America. The strength of East New York Farms! lies in its ability to adapt the diverse needs and assets of local residents towards making the farmers market a strong community place.
Four organizations–the Local Development Corporation of East New York, United Community Centers, the Cornell Extension Program, and Pratt Community Development–sponsor and support East New York Farms! The City of New York is another crucial partner, having allowed East New York Farms! to transform the vacant city-owned lot where the market now resides into a vital neighborhood resource.
Click here to read an article on the East New York Farm by Yvonne Hung titled: East New York Farms: Youth Participation in Community Development and Urban Agriculture.