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Environmentalists Educate Public About Benefits of Locally Produced Food

"WETA Hometown Heroes" Features Bernadine Prince and Ann Yonkers in July

Washington, D.C.­— Co-directors and co-founders of FRESHFARM Markets, Bernadine Prince and Ann Yonkers share the spotlight of a month-long WETA Hometown Heroes profile airing in July on WETA TV 26. WETA selected Prince and Yonkers for their service promoting the benefits of choosing local produce from the Chesapeake Bay area to people throughout the Washington, D.C. region. Their profile premiers on July 7, just prior to the broadcast of Antiques Roadshow at 8 p.m. on WETA TV 26 and repeats throughout the month.

Originally a program in the Public Education Division of American Farmland Trust, FRESHFARM Markets became a self-sufficient, nonprofit organization in 2002. The initial outdoor farmers market opened in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. and there are now eight markets in the Washington metropolitan area. The markets comprise of 75 regional farmers who must use environmentally friendly farming techniques in order to participate, 175 volunteers and more than 180,000 customers. FRESHFARM Markets offer the community with an experience that supports the organization’s mission “to connect city dwellers with farmers and their locally-grown food, educate the public about food and farming issues and to provide vital economic opportunities for farmers.”

According to Prince and Yonkers, buying local food has positive effects on the environment because it decreases carbon emissions by reducing the amount of pollution exerted by traveling vehicles. In addition, local food is fresher and has a higher nutritional value. Many of the participating farmers — who must live within a two and one-half hour radius of Washington, D.C. — rely on FRESHFARM Markets for financial sustenance. Without the markets, the farmers would be forced to give up their trade.

Prince and Yonkers also believe their markets revitalize stagnant communities by creating new town squares. The markets often feature chefs from a restaurant in the District and while at the market, the chefs prepare recipes that are made with the various ingredients sold there such as haricot verts, gooseberries, feta cheese or buffalo meat. Yonkers states, “FRESHFARM Markets are a human place in the city where people gather to buy local food and can interact with each other, working professionals and farmer-producers.”

Dedicated to helping all parts of the community, Prince and Yonkers make it a priority to help the less fortunate. Since 1997, more than 100 tons of local food from the markets have been donated to charities in the District including D.C. Central Kitchen, Miriam’s Kitchen and the Dinner Program for Homeless Women. To further help the underprivileged, the markets accept WIC coupons (Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infant and Children) and Senior coupons (government-issued coupons for eligible seniors at fresh produce stands). FRESHFARM Markets also provide a hands-on gardening program in D.C. public schools called FoodPrints, which helps educate students about the benefits of farming and fresh produce. In addition, FRESHFARM Markets partners with other local community organizations such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Community Food Security Coalition and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to educate the Washington metropolitan area about the benefits of locally produced food.

Prince and Yonkers’ strong dedication to helping and educating the Chesapeake Bay area citizens through locally grown food emphasizes their philosophy that being “green” helps communities. For more information about Prince, Yonkers and FRESHFARM Markets visit www.freshfarmmarkets.org.

Celebrating its 10th year, WETA Hometown Heroes is an Emmy-Award winning multimedia project that heralds individuals who improve their communities and encourages others to volunteer service. To be involved and to submit nominations, visit the website www.weta.org/heroes where you will find volunteer opportunities at area organizations, archived WETA Hometown Heroes features and forms to nominate a hero. Prince and Yonkers’ WETA Hometown Heroes profile will also be featured on the WETA media player, WETA Watch Online, at www.weta.org/watchonline. Featuring more than 100 videos, WETA Watch Online includes the latest videos from WETA local productions such as The WETA Guide, WETA All Access and WETA Extras.

WETA Hometown Heroes is made possible through the generous support of Park Foundation, Inc.; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

WETA supports educational and culturally enriching opportunities for local youth through programming and outreach workshops such as Reading Rockets and Ready To Learn. To find out more about these projects, visit WETA’s community website at www.weta.org/community.

WETA TV 26 and Classical WETA 90.9 FM are public broadcasting stations serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with news and public affairs, educational and cultural programming and related services, including four digital channels. WETA is committed to producing programs that highlight the history and people of the Greater Washington area. WETA produces WETA All Access, The WETA Guide, WETA Around Town, WETA Neighborhoods, and WETA Extras, spotlighting local people, places and events. WETA’s headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia. For more information on WETA and its services, visit www.weta.org. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA.
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Mary Stewart
mstewart@weta.org