Farmers markets target area seniors

This summer, area seniors can find fresh, local produce at farmers markets just for them.

For the second year in a row, Senior Whole Health, a voluntary health care benefits plan serving more than 7,000 seniors across 12 counties (including Saratoga, Schenectady and Albany), is organizing farmers markets in parking lots at various senior housing buildings throughout the summer months.

Last year we got more and more requests so we're making the rounds to more buildings, said Roxanne Hansen of SWH.

Hansen said so far there are 13 confirmed sites and about six more that need to be finalized. The farmers markets are specifically for senior citizens and will run through September. At each location, a SWH representative will be there to hand out "veggie dollars" to be used at the market.

"[Seniors] love it. They're very appreciative, the prices are very good and in some cases they offer some reduced prices or deals on things because a lot of places we go to, seniors are on a limited budget and wouldn't have access to this stuff usually," said Hansen.

The food is local, provided by Petuske's Produce in Waterford-Halfmoon. Michelle Petuske said she and her husband are proud to partner with SWH.

"We like to help the seniors in any way we can and provide them with quality products at affordable prices," said Petuske. "We just love the relationship we've built with SWH. They're a good company to work with it's basically two businesses banding together to provide great services to the seniors."

The third generation farm started out as a farm stand, so Petuske said the senior farmers markets were a natural evolution.

"My husband's grandfather started out on the road and now it's basically come full circle and we're back on the road again," said Petuske.

Seniors can find homegrown sweet corn, potatoes, a variety of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, Georgia peaches, plums, pears, lettuces, onions, strawberries, blueberries and pies. The farmers markets each week are all about the seniors, said Petuske.

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