Free farmers market for Peoria's south side residents

By Joe Bennett

June 27, 2012 Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 10:34 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Gifts In The Moment is a non-profit organization that joined forces with the Peoria Park District where the Urban Garden is harvested.

GITM receives promotional help from the Zion Evangelical and Christ Lutheran churches on the south side, where the Farmers Market is hosted.

"This is a food desert area, so there is no grocery store within walking distance at this area," says GITM Co-Director Kim Keenan. "So we're trying to give them recipes that they can do at home without having to worry that they don't have olive oil."

Keenan and Denise Urycki co-founded GITM to improve the lives of children and families, exposing them to the outdoors in a learning environment.

"The vision was to expand it to an Urban Market, so we would actually start planting produce and herbs, bringing that produce to people who live here in the neighborhood," Urycki tells us.

Hy-Vee provides a registered dietician with tips on how to enjoy a healthy meal through simple recipes like sauteed veggies on a mini-pizza cracker.

"They absolutely love it," says dietician Susan Waltrip. "We actually had one of the children come back and they were helping us do a little bit of the cutting, and we helped them learn about the basil that we have available over there."

Dyanna Pride lives just across the street.

She came with her grand daughter for opening night, and she says they will be back for more.

"We need something like this, especially for the older people that can't really get out to do no walking," Pride says. "I love it, and I hope they continue to do this."

The good news for Pride and other families in the area is the market will be open every Wednesday night through September.

GITM is taking a break next week for the holiday.

After that they expect the garden and market to thrive.

"It may be the fish and loaves," Keenan says with a smile. "We'll have a few and maybe we'll serve a lot, so we're giving it a try this year. But it will continue to grow and expand."