Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway opened its Be Healthy Market for the second year on Wednesday.
The market, implemented through the Baptist Health Foundation, welcomed 10 vendors, several new from the previous year.
Missy Lewis, the chief development officer for the foundation, said last year the market saw anywhere between 100-200 a day come out, including hospital employees who are allowed to come out during their workday.
She said it’s early in the summer so there’s a little less than usual, but as the season continues vendors will be bringing in a higher variety of options for farmers market participants.
“As we grow with our vendors, we know that more people from the community will come over here, which is what we’re hoping,” Lewis said.
The market in Conway is open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Wednesday, June 6-25 and is located in front of the hospital at 1555 Exchange Ave.
Lewis said the idea started with Troy Wells, Conway’s chief executive officer, who wanted to do some preventative health to keep people out of the hospital.
“Not that we want to put ourselves out of business, but we don’t want [patients] to come in when they’re in such chronic disease and so we want to change some things that are happening throughout their lives like the way they eat or the way that they have access to reading[s] … whatever it [is that] helps with their being, mental and physical being,” she said.
Lewis said Wells wanted to start a farmers market and the foundation jumped at the change to do it.
“The idea, again, is just for people to start eating healthy so that they don’t have all those chronic diseases down the line,” she said.
In addition, Lewis said, the market also connects them to the community.
“We’re excited to see if we can get more of the community out here,” she said.
Phyllis Strack from Strack Farm had squash, blueberries and more for passersby to purchase.
Strack, whos father-in-law started the farmers market in the Antioch Baptist Church parking lot more than 40 years ago, said when she first started selling produce it was to bring in money for her school tuition and Christmas money but now does it to save for retirement.
Being able to connect with the community and sell what she’s helped grow, she said, is her favorite aspect of the farmers market.
“That’s the best part,” Strack said. “Seeing people wanting it, loving it and coming back for more. That’s a natural high and it’s what keeps me going. I’ve had the same customers for over 30 years.”
She said getting out and purchasing local, fresh produce is not only benefiting the consumer but also the farmer.
“That’s what I like,” Strack said. “Supporting each other … small businesses.”
Kathryn Nance, an employee at the hospital, made her way among the booths and grabbed a couple items on hand including blueberries, pickles and bread.
Wednesday was her first time to get out and walk through a farmers market, something that’s been on her to-do list.
“This is really great that it’s just right [here],” she said. “This time around I get to see what they have so next time I can plan.”
Attendees also had the opportunity to grab a $5 healthy meal from the Give Fresh Mobile Kitchen.
Lewis said the money made there goes toward Give Fresh, the Power of Food, a Baptist Health Foundation Program.
“We create food boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables and then we give them to different areas,” she said.
In Conway, Lewis said, they work with the City of Hope Outreach.
She said last year they gave the children food bag and recipes to take home but learned from that and now, they take crates of food to CoHO.
“As the parents come and pick up their children, they can choose what they want,” Lewis said. “That way there’s no waste. The kids aren’t throwing the eggplant out on the way home.”
For healthy recipes, farmer market schedules and more, visit www.baptist-health.com/bhealthy/farmersmarket.