Fordham received a $25,000 AARP Community Challenge grant in June to significantly expand the Highbridge La Familia Verde Market in the Bronx. The University launched the market last year in partnership with several community organizations; Fordham undergraduates and other student volunteers help staff it throughout the summer and fall. 

The grant is part of a nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative, which strives to help communities become great places to live for residents of all ages.

A woman adn a man standing on either side of corn stacked up on a table
The vegetables for sale come from two local farmers and a community garden in the Bronx.

Kicking Off Another Season of Fresh Produce

Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), which oversees the market, kicked off a second season of the weekly market on July 12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson.

Fresh produce supplied by two local farms and a community garden in the Bronx was available for purchase under the market’s large tent.

Jennifer Benitez, a 33-year-old Highbridge resident who lives a short walk from the market, which is located in the parking lot of a senior living facility in the South Bronx, came to shop for herself, her husband, and their 18-month-old child. She visited the market every week last year, and was there this Wednesday for watermelon, carrots, lettuce, and cilantro, the latter of which she was especially excited to get fresh.

a woman standing next to chairs and books
A volunteer from The Bronx is Reading at the “Reading Nook.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, she joked that she uses cilantro in “pretty much everything.”

“The food from this market is a lot fresher, it has better flavor, and for me, I find it to be better because it’s organic,” she said in Spanish.

“I found the whole market to be beautiful and interesting, especially because a lot of elderly folks in the area enjoy it.”

Expanding Beyond Produce

The market’s expanded footprint features a seating area, a reading nook, and an area for cooking demonstrations. The first cooking demonstration featured local chef Geneva Wilson, who showed visitors how to roast beets.

Cookbooks Made by Fordham Students

A chef talks to viewers of a cooking demonstration.
Chef Geneva Wilson demonstrated how to make roasted beet salad.

The grant also funded the printing of cookbooks that are distributed for free at the market. The book was created by Fordham students in The Anthropology of Food, an undergraduate class taught in the spring by Julie Kleinman, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology.

Students interviewed community members and sourced local recipes to create a cookbook with recipes that are both meaningful to the community and create awareness about the produce available at the market.

Supported by the Center for Community Engaged Learning, the course was a continuation of the market’s academic component. The idea for the market itself was partly conceived last year in the course Ecology and Economics of Food Systems.

Cooking in the Bronx, a cookbook that will be available for free at the market

Intergenerational Community Building

Surey I. Miranda, director of campus and community engagement at CCEL, said the goal of the market, which will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday until mid-November, is to create a neighborhood space that encourages intergenerational community building.

“We want to meet people where they’re at. We want to make sure that they’re not only getting their fresh produce, but they’re able to be connected with key services,” she said.

“So there are going to be different organizations connecting people to their places, so they don’t have to go out of their communities to receive essential services.”

The market’s community co-sponsors include Bestcare, Inc., Essen Health, BridgeBuilders, The Mary Mitchel Family and Youth Center, The Bronx is Reading, Highbridge Community Development Corporation, 1199SEIU, and Catholic Charities Community Services.

A group of people stand and sit listening to the Bronx Borough President talk
The market will be open every Wednesday until mid-November.



Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.