Veggies Flow, Relationships Grow At New Q House Farmers Market

Al Larriva-Latt | July 15th, 2022

Veggies Flow, Relationships Grow At New Q House Farmers Market

CitySeed  |  Dixwell  |  Food Justice  |  Arts & Culture  |  Dixwell Community Q House

The CitySeed crew

The CitySeed crew. Al Larriva-Latt Photos.

It was 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and Hamden resident Gail Brown was ecstatic. Beneath a tent for Massaro Community Farm, she exchanged a handful of wooden tokens for six bunches of leafy collard greens. Then she rattled off requests for onions, potatoes, carrots, mustard greens and turnip greens.

Wednesday afternoon, Brown was one of several dozen attendees at the fourth Dixwell Community Q House Farmers’ Market, held each Wednesday in Daniel Stewart Plaza at 197 Dixwell Ave. It marks the first time CitySeed, which has weekly markets in Wooster Square and Edgewood Park, has formally expanded into Dixwell. It is slated to run through October 26 of this year.

“We see that there is definitely a need to address the food apartheid that exists in New Haven, and we view our presence here as a way of helping with that,” said Alyssa Grant, a market manager at CitySeed. Grant added that 22 percent of New Haveners face food insecurity, twice the national average.

tents1The market is facilitating both sides of that business equation, providing the majority-Black residents of Dixwell with increased access to fresh produce and homegrown entrepreneurs with an opportunity to connect to those customers. At Wednesday’s market, there were seven vendors and organizations in attendance, including two produce vendors, three food vendors, and two public service organizations.

As she made the rounds, Brown gushed over the freshness of the vegetables–unlike the produce in the grocery store, which one can’t be sure for how long it’s been sitting out, she said.

After collecting collards at Massaro’s tent, she had some additional requests for Cass Friend, a farm crew member and co-leader of the youth crew at Massaro. Friend typed Brown’s requests on their iPhone.

Brown, in turn, assured her that she’d be back next week—and she planned to bring friends.


At the CitySeed farmers markets, including this one at Dixwell Q House, SNAP and EBT can be redeemed for wooden tokens worth one and five dollars. When used to purchase fruits and vegetables, the tokens are worth double. CitySeed’s markets are some of the first in the state to do so.

In addition to the wooden tokens, there’s also special vouchers available for seniors. Below a bright-colored awning, Youth@Work Program Coordinator and City of New Haven Acting Elderly Services Director Tomi Veale handed out Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program vouchers, worth over 15 dollars at participating stands. Registration for the state and federal programs is open to seniors and involves adding one’s name, address, and signature to a cover sheet. Seniors without addresses can register too, Veale said.


Members of the Massaro Community Farm family.  

Christopher Jordan, a rising second-year graduate student in painting at the Yale School of Art, said he appreciates the tokens too. Last fall, he moved to New Haven from Washington state, where he would attend a farmer’s market that for a while accepted EBT and SNAP. The market’s eventual discontinuation of the program was detrimental to people who relied on it, Jordan said.

Standing under the shade of the Massaro Farms stand, he grasped biodegradable bags filled with cucumbers. He anticipated steeping them in water and adding them to sandwiches.

“There’s just certain things that it’s better to get really fresh,” he said.

Besides facilitating shoppers, CitySeed’s programming has helped the other side of the farmer’s market equation: sellers. Wednesday’s market featured sweet treats from Je T’aime, the owners of which mix cupcakes and cocktails and teach cooking lessons in the Q House’s industrial-grade kitchen, and savory options from Momma Kiss Kitchen Cuisine.

Kismet and Roz Douglass, daughter adn mother duoRoz and Kismet Douglass, mother and daughter duo.

Kismet Douglass started working at Yale in 2012, where she moved up in the ranks from dishwasher to cook. About five years ago, she launched her catering business, Momma Kiss Kitchen Cuisine. She’d developed a repertoire of recipes, established relationships with customers, and secured an Employer Identification Number—but she wasn’t always sure if she was on the right track.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, she joined the CitySeed and Collab Food Business Accelerator, a 12-week intensive where she learned the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and was able to apply for a catering license. The program also confirmed for her that she’d already been doing most everything right.

“Sometimes you’re doing something, and you don’t know that you’re doing it the right way already. It was kind of like that. They helped fine-tune me.”

Maxine Harris

Maxine Harris, who runs Je T'aime with Laurren Robinson.

At Wednesday’s market, she was serving up staples like barbeque chicken, crispy bacon, roasted tomatoes, and her famous mac and cheese (The trick is butter, she said. Lots of it.).

She’s using the farmer’s market as a way to build relationships not only with customers but also with fellow sellers. Under the mid-summer heat, she walked across the plaza to the Massaro stand, where she bought a handful of veggies. She wants to start incorporating produce from her fellow vendors into her menu.

It’s a far-sighted vision of collaboration and interdependence.

“I could get all my items from all of the vendors,” she said.