The Daily Star
---- — A fresh fruit and produce market is scheduled to open today in Pathfinder Village, a planned community in Edmeston for people with Down syndrome.
The market, Pathfinder Produce, will be open Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m. and will feature a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for local consumers and village employees. Next Thursday, the second day the market will be open, is designated as World Down Syndrome Day.
The market is affiliated with the Let’s Go 5-2-1-0 program, an initiative by that Bassett Research to improve the health of upstate families.
Pathfinder is working with its vendors to obtain weekly shipments of produce and will expand its own crops this growing season, according to a media release. It also will collaborate with the Edmeston Central School’s agriculture program to bring locally grown produce to consumers.
“Pathfinder Produce will be operated by students and young adults in our pre-vocational program,” said Paul Landers, chief executive of Pathfinder Village. “Produce is one of the many community initiatives we have taken on lately to integrate the village community in meaningful ways and better the lives of all who live in our local communities. As we commemorate World Down Syndrome Day this month, there is no better way to acknowledge this international celebration than to launch this new initiative.”
Edmeston doesn’t have a supermarket nearby, and many families are at an income level that makes buying fresh vegetables and fruit is too pricey, said Karen Huxtable-Hooker of the Bassett Healtcare Network.
Lynae Wyckoff, director for the Bassett Research Institute’s 5-2-1-0 program, said she welcomed the market.
“Pathfinder Produce will present another buying option for local families, and hopefully will encourage them to eat more nutritious foods,” she said.
“One of the inconsistencies about living in rural areas is how it is difficult for families to access fresh produce at reasonable costs,” Wyckoff added. “Most consumers end up paying marked-up prices at large stores in cities, or they simply do not buy enough fruits and vegetables to meet national dietary recommendations.”
World Down Syndrome Day has been observed since 2006 and first received official sanction from the United Nations last year. The March 21 date — or 3/21 — is significant because it represents the triplication of the 21st chromosome, the genetic cause of 95 percent of Down syndrome cases.
Pathfinder is a nonprofit, residential community that serves more than 90 children and adults who have Down syndrome and developmental disabilities. It offers a day school program for students from area school districts and a summer camp program for young adults.