By Lisa Cardinal — Parker, Colorado … Three summers ago, the idea of a Free Farmer’s Market was just a dream. It became reality when Parker Task Force, one of Newday’s community partners, enthusiastically agreed to ensure that all summer long, our Free Farmer’s Market would have the best produce that could be found.

The final piece needed to make the Free Farmer’s Market a reality was a location. Managers of an apartment complex in the perfect location gladly agreed to let us use their space and Newday’s Free Farmer’s Market was born in the summer of 2018.

Today, Newday’s Free Farmer’s Market continues to provide high-quality fruits and vegetables at no cost to neighbors in our community, who otherwise would be unable to enjoy summer produce.

The Free Farmer’s Market season normally begins with a barbecue lunch at the apartment complex hosted by Newday where church members and residents of the apartment complex have opportunity to get acquainted, enjoy good food together, and take home beautiful produce. Neighbors return each week and, in addition to free produce, they are offered a recipe with ingredients using at least some of the produce of the week, along with samples of the recipe.

Throughout the summer, friendships develop, conversations take place, and prayer and other kinds of help become part of the Free Farmer’s Market experience. On the final day of Free Farmer’s Market each year, Newday puts on an ice cream party.

As the summer of 2020 approached with the complications of COVID-19 and subsequent health department guidelines, Newday discovered that the need for the Free Farmer’s Market was greater than ever. Parker Task force committed to partner again with Newday and the apartment complex warmly welcomed us.

A safe, socially distanced option for the Free Farmer’s Market was designed so that instead of neighbors having the opportunity to select produce themselves, they would wait in socially-distanced lines to be handed produce Newday had pre-bagged — one bag of fruit and one bag of vegetables for each family.

Truly, the need has been great and truly, neighbors are grateful. While Newday is unable to eat or socialize with our neighbors or build friendships during this summer’s Free Farmer’s Market, the church members are grateful for the opportunity to do good in a way we believe Jesus would if He were here today.

–Lisa Cardinal is executive pastor and interim lead pastor at Newday; photos by Julie Collett