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Watts Farmers Market celebrates anniversary

OW Staff | 7/23/2009, 5 p.m.

Kaiser Permanente's Watts Counseling and Learning Center presented a $10,000 check on Saturday, July 19 to the Watts Healthy Farmers' Market at its one-year anniversary celebration. The award took place during the weekly Saturday market, which is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Ted Watkins Memorial Park, 103rd Street and Central Avenue.

"The true value of the market is seeing community families making real changes in their food choices each week," states Joanne A. Robinson, M.Ed, executive director for the Center.

Ruth Conley, a Watts community champion and social-work associate at the Center, spearheaded the establishment of the market, and as a result of her many good works, was awarded the 2007 David Lawrence Community Service Award. The annual award, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, recognizes individuals and groups who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts to "improve the health of our communities," and comes with $10,000 that the recipients can donate to the charity of their choice. Underscoring her commitment to the success of the market, Conley is donating her service award money to Sustainable Economic Enterprises of L.A. (SEE-LA) to support the Watts Healthy Farmers' market. The market is operated by SEE-LA as one of it's nonprofit community activities.

In 2007, Kaiser Permanente provided a $50,000 grant to SEE-LA to operate the market until it could be self-sustaining.

"We know the residents of South Los Angeles have limited options when it comes to healthy food," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who represents the area. "The weekly market has been a welcome addition to the Watts community, allowing residents to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for their families." WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) participants can redeem farmers' market vouchers to purchase fresh, unprepared fruits, vegetables, and herbs. For details, call (323) 463-3171 or www.farmernet.com.

For more than 40 years, the Center has offered free or low-cost counseling, summer camps, and preschool for families living in the greater Watts area. The families need not be members of Kaiser Permanente to utilize the Center's services. For details about all the Center's services, call (323) 564-7911.