WASHINGTON, D.C.—By the time 83-year-old Lee Qi Qi and her neighbor, Dick Wong, 82, arrive at the farmer’s market in front of their Wah Luck House apartments on Sixth and H Street, the place is packed. A crowd of 20 to 30 of Chinatown’s elderly Chinese-American residents brace the chilly morning. They pick through the crates of peppers, onions, and bok choy that workers from Arcadia Farms—a Virginia-based nonprofit that brings local produce to low-income communities through mobile markets—have neatly arranged on folding tables. Bilingual signs help the patrons, who mainly speak Mandarin and Cantonese, navigate the varieties.
Lee takes a shopping basket and heads straight for the sweet potatoes, picking them up one at a time and giving each a gentle squeeze to make sure it’s firm. Wong, meanwhile, goes for the crates of apples. He examines each one, careful not to pick any that seem bruised.