Produce market sees growth in third year

August 8, 2013
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A morning downpour that caused the PCC Austin Produce Market on 5425 W. Lake St. to set up indoors last Friday couldn’t deter business.

The clinic’s market – open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday this month – was almost sold out before noon.

In fact, the market usually sells out – just not that early, said Lucy Flores, the program manager for AmeriCorps, a government program that trains people to work in nonprofits, community groups and public agencies.

Twenty to 25 people will come to the market each Friday, said Flores, although only 10 had come so far that day.

Flores has seen an increase in customers since their first summer in 2011. About 120 people came the seven weeks the market was open that year, and 158 people came in 2012, she said.

This is the first time in three years that Austin residents will be able to buy produce at the PCC market until the end of August. It usually runs from June through July.

Flores said she hopes to see the market run longer in the future, but that all depends on getting more community volunteers.

Humboldt Park resident Lynnette Christian was at the PCC clinic with her 7- and 8-year-old sons when she stopped by the market.

The boys ran to the market’s bookmobile, which offers free books to kids, while Christian went for the Swiss chard.

This was her first time at the market, and her first time seeing the leafy green vegetable.

An AmeriCorps volunteer was quick to gather resources for Christian, while her boys played with puzzles in the corner with Flores.

The market provides information sheets that include recipes and storage tips on each piece of produce sold.

Christian said she was impressed with the prices of the produce. Onions, Swiss chard and kale are $1.50 each. Zucchini and cucumbers are $2 apiece, and turnips are the most expensive, at $3.

“See you next week!” Christian yelled as she walked out with her boys, who each had a bag full of books.

“PCC tries to be a one-stop shop,” said Flores.

The clinic has WIC staff, behavioral health services, a dental clinic and now a produce market.

“The community needs a variety of things – not just health care,” she said.

The clinic, which doesn’t profit from the produce sales, donates rare leftovers to next door Better Life Church and the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry.

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