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Elders fill up on fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers markets

Farmers MarketsExperts recommend eating a wide variety of colorful vegetables. When you visit your local farmers market, try out something new, such as purple asparagus, colorful Easter egg radishes, or Romanesco broccoli, which is prepared like cauliflower and has a delicate and nutty taste.Picture this: You sit down to dinner on Friday, and your table is filled with the sweet summer scent of basil. You decide to have fruit with breakfast on Saturday, and the berries you pop into your mouth offer a blast of flavor because they were picked by your local farmer this morning. Your Monday is boosted with a lunchtime salad as colorful as a rainbow: bright slices of red radishes, shredded orange carrots, a chopped yellow bell pepper, a green salad mix, blueberries, and purple pickled beets.

Where did you get all this bounty? Your local farmers market, of course!

Farmers markets are a great place to shop for fresh, locally-grown produce and farm-raised meats and dairy. Many of our local farmers markets are open throughout the growing season and some are even open year-round. Thanks to special resources like the Healthy Incentive Program and Senior Farmers Market Coupons, locally grown food is becoming more accessible.

You can double the value of your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits when you make certain purchases at certain farmers markets, thanks to the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which will continue this summer. The program helps families afford more fresh, canned, dried, and frozen fruits and vegetables without added salts, sugars, fats, or oils.

HIP adds the amount of your purchase instantly back to your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, up to a certain value each month. If you are a household of one or two people and spend $40 of your SNAP benefits at a HIP retailer, you will earn $40 credit back in your SNAP account. For a household of three to five people, the amount is $60, and it is $80 for a household of six or more. Your receipt will show the amount of additional SNAP dollars you have earned.

Franklin County and North Quabbin farmers markets participating in HIP include those in the towns of Ashfield, Bernardston, Colrain, Greenfield, Northfield, Orange Shelburne Falls, and Turners Falls.

In addition to farmers markets, some farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) are also HIP retailers. To find more information or other HIP retailers near you, visit www.mass.gov/hip for a directory, call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333, or look for the HIP logo.

More information about the Senior Farmers Market Coupons through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program can be found online at www.mass.gov/farmers-market-nutrition-program.

CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) offers a complete directory of farmers markets. To request a hard copy, contact the CISA office at 413-665-7100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Nutrition Program at LifePath operates many senior dining centers and senior luncheon clubs, as well as the Meals on Wheels program, across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Home Care and other programs may offer assistance with grocery shopping. To learn more, contact us.