“Montclair Shop Healthy” teams with “Let’s Grow Montclair” by Ivana Drazi, Montclair Shop Healthy project coordinator

Several of the seven stores participating in the Township’s “Montclair Shop Healthy “(MSH) corner store project offered locally grown vegetables from Montclair Community Farms to their customers this season, thanks to the “Let’s Grow Montclair” grant project. Montclair Community Farms donated a portion of their harvest to MSH participating stores Grove Convenience, Quick Pick, Krauszers Food Store, and Jack’s Store, to encourage customers to try locally grown vegetables and to connect corner store owners with distributors of locally grown produce.

Nancy, the amazing storeowner of Jack’s Store on North Fullerton Avenue, was eager to offer free locally grown tomatoes, white eggplants and peppers to her customers in need. Patel Paresh (P.K), the dedicated owner of Krauszers Food Store at Valley Road, gave away potatoes, cucumbers, onions, squash, peppers, and tomatoes to his customers. He also requested produce for his other store; Quick Pick on Harrison Avenue.

In an attempt to encourage store owners to sell locally grown produce, there were some challenges. For example, Manan, owner of Montclair Food and Fuel, believed that vegetables would not sell in his store and did not want to accept the produce that was offered. On the other hand, Alpana, the owner of Grove Convenience, was happy at first to supply her store with locally grown produce, but because the ripe farm fresh tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants began attracting flies, she decided to hold off from selling vegetables at her store until she gets a refrigerator for her produce.

At the end of the day, it is the customers that must, in some way, persuade and influence store owners to sell fresh, locally grown produce. By expressing their desire to purchase fresh and locally grown products, the store owners will be more motivated and excited to switch from their current produce to better options.

As a Health Educator and the Montclair Shop Healthy project coordinator, Ivana Drazin Ivelja is happy to encourage, suggest and advocate for a culture of health in the Montclair Community.