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per pound. “I try to eat real food and this is the best place to get it.” The future of the markets depends on sales volume, so Steigerwald said she encourages patrons of all walks. Since their inception, the markets and produce box programs have accounted for the sale of more than 7,700 pounds of affordable produce, 23 percent of which was paid for with EBT/SNAP cards. In addition, the effort has a strong education component, which includes everything from handing out recipes featuring market produce to offering wellattended cooking and nutrition classes for Housing Authority residents. UNC Wilmington interns organize the classes, bringing in local chefs and health professionals for sessions that extend for several weeks. “We’ll be able to really outreach to a large number of households” over time, Steigerwald said. Community leaders have been involved every step of the way, she points out, adding that residents of low-income neighborhoods are often rightfully skeptical of outsiders professing to know what’s best for their communities. “You can’t just go into a community and set up a farmers market — or any program — and be accepted without that line of communication,” she said. At the Rankin Terrace market, where Johnson and Brantley have worked together for some time, the pair has fallen into a comfortable division of labor. Brantley bags vegetables, handles payments and logs each transaction. Johnson functions as salesperson, calling out to passersby, sharing tips for making cinnamon-spiked baked apples and homemade broccoli casserole, and talking up the produce on offer that week. When Housing Authority employee Jordana Chadwick starts to buy apples and broccoli, Johnson gently chides her for passing over the ruffle-edged turnip greens. “You’re not going to try the turnips?” Johnson asks. “You know you could freeze them and save them for Christmas.” Chadwick leaves with eight bunches. When deciding what to bring to market, organizers strive to strike a balance between perennially popular items — such as muscadine grapes and collard greens — and other less familiar foods. “We try to accommodate their tastes, but also to introduce new foods,” Steigerwald said. Over the years, certain foods like kale have slowly become more popular, but Steigerwald conceded not every new introduction is a success. “We don’t really send kohlrabi anymore.” b Open year round, the Fresh Market at Rankin Terrace (corner of Twelfth and Rankin) is open Friday, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Fresh Market at Hillcrest (corner of Thirteenth and Mears) is open Friday, from 1:30–4 p.m. For more information, visit www.feastdowneast.org. Lindsay Kastner is a longtime reporter on an endless quest for the perfect brownie. She writes about food and family at pleasepassthepeas.com. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

March 2016 •

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March Salt 2016  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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