This week, staff writer Laura Rysz talks with Holly Yorkonis about United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s South Side Farmer’s Market.

Residence: Avoca

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in social science from University of Scranton

Title: Community revitalization coordinator and market manager

Q: How does the farmer’s market work?

A: United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania created the South Side Farmer’s Market in 2010 as part of our work to revitalize the South Scranton neighborhood to address a lack of local access to fresh, affordable food. Since that time, the market has expanded to a year-round indoor and outdoor market that draws hundreds of people on Saturdays. The market offers locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and baked goods; is located at 601 Cedar Ave., Scranton; and is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state recommendations, the South Side Farmer’s Market considers itself a safe and clean place to shop. We have social distance markers to guide customers, require face masks at pickup, and provide hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the pickup zones.Our market is funded through a Neighborhood Partnership Program grant with PNC, PPL and Peoples Security Bank.

Q: What is your mission?

A: UNC’s purpose is to meet the needs of local low-income families, seniors, youth and new immigrants while also empowering them to attain self-sufficiency. Its wide array of programs are continuously adjusted to fill the gaps that exist in local services. We work together with neighbors to provide services and create opportunities that empower individuals and build strong, interdependent communities.

Q: Who are some of the vendors?

A: We currently have eight vendors including Beta Bread Bakery, Barnyard Cidery, Canned Classics, Four Story Hill Farm, Fullers Overlook Farm, Quails-R-Us … Plus!, Leave Me a Scone and Ten Mile Mushroom. Most vendors are pre-order and prepay only; however, Fullers Overlook Farm and Quails-R-Us … Plus! are considered essential farm stands. They are set up outside for customers to shop on site.

Q: What are some of the benefits?

A: You are buying from local farmers and supporting local agriculture, the environment and the local economy. All of our vendors are based in Northeast Pennsylvania. By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh and local food. This is a great way to increase overall health. Fresh, organic produce is often more affordable than in a supermarket. The advantage at a farmer’s market is that you can actually talk to the farmer, learn about their land and the family you are supporting.

Q: Why is community support important?

A: Local community provides a sense of togetherness; shopping at the farmer’s market (and) getting fresh food and fresh air is vital in promoting overall health. Customers look forward each week to getting out to the market. Having the connection to community and healthier food options during the pandemic is important for mental and physical health. United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA offers ways to save at the market. We accept SNAP/EBT and P-EBT; within that service UNC has a “Double Dollars” produce program. Each week, UNC will match a SNAP transaction up to $20 per family to spend on fresh produce. The market also promotes ways to earn “Market Bucks.” This currency comes in $5 increments and can be earned in a variety of ways. Follow our social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to stay up to date with contests and promotions.