78 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
culture, from our country,” says Rosa San-chez, a Salvadoran immigrant who lives
in Bladensburg and works at the market.
“It reminds me of home, when I was
growing up, it’s a piece of my homeland.”
Crossroads was founded in 2007 by
John Hyde, who sold baked goods at the
Takoma Park Farmers Market and noticed
that few poor families ever patronized
his stand. Hyde, who died in 2009, had
a smart, simple idea: Establish a market
that’s accessible to low-income shoppers
and supplement their food budgets.
Here’s how the system works. Fami-
lies that qualify for federal nutrition
programs like food stamps tell a clerk
what portion of their benefits they want
to spend. They receive coupons called
Fresh Checks that double their pur-
chasing power as long as they use the
checks for healthy options. Everyone
wins. Families improve their diets while
stretching their dollars, and farmers
reach new customers.
But launching the market wasn’t easy.
The day before it was scheduled to open,
the Department of Agriculture said the
subsidy program was illegal. Fortunately
Hyde had an ally, a senior official at
USDA, who called his bosses and said:
“What do you think The Washington
Post would have to say about your trying
A market in Takoma Park brings produce to the county’s urban poor—and
reminds many local immigrants of home
banter | HOMETOWN
BY STEVE ROBERTS
THEY LINE UP EARLY at Rosa Linares’ stand in the Crossroads Farmers
Market in Takoma Park. Many customers are young mothers with toddlers at
their feet. Most are immigrants from El
Salvador and Guatemala, and they are
here because Linares grows and sells
plants they know from back home.
A big favorite is chipilin, a leafy green
vegetable that cooks up like spinach
and flavors dishes like eggs and soups.
Another is hora de maiz, large corn leaves
that wrap tamales. Her herbs are used
in folk remedies that are said to reduce
anemia, relieve cramps and refresh skin.
“The produce she sells is from our
Rosa Linares (right) sells
produce at the Crossroads
Farmers Market, which
also serves as a community
center and street fair.