Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Basic solutions

Encouraging report on challenging hunger and caring for public health via a time-tested strategy.  We need more projects like this one!  Thanks to my friend, Richard Corum for sharing the story from the Memphis Commercial Appeal!

Farmers markets cover up, freshen up farm produce offerings

By Linda A. Moore
Sunday, May 8, 2011

While there's certainly been enough rain to satisfy the Mid-South, there were few complaints on Saturday as rain fell during the grand opening of the Urban Farms Market at Broad and Tillman.

Vendors, dry under the cover of a former gas station, offered fresh produce, some grown as close by as the Urban Farm in Binghamton, locally raised meats, cut flowers, soaps and handmade jewelry.

The market was created through the larger Binghamton Development Corp. in order to bring fresh food to the inner city, said Rosalie Bouck, market manager.

"A lot of grocery stores won't come into areas like this," Bouck said. "We're trying to make way for a model for a nonprofit food store."

The store is also graced with a mural done by local artist Danny Broadway and students from St. George's Independent School in Collierville.

As the growing season progresses, produce will be brought in from the community farm, Bouck said.

The market and corner store will be open Tuesdays and Saturdays. In addition to produce, there are limited canned goods, meats and dairy products. A drive-through coffee window will be open on weekday mornings.

Many older residents in the neighborhood need to be able to walk to a grocery store, said Binghamton resident Roger Bowen, president of Binghamton Senior Watch.

"This is a good place to find healthy food," Bowen said.

Downtown behind Central Station, the Memphis Farmers Market rolled out the green carpet for the grand opening for its West Pavilion, a new nearly $300,000 covered market area.

"We love it," said hydroponic farmer Ami Hughes. "It protected us from the rain."

She and her husband, David Hughes, run Micmak Farms in Batesville, Ark., and expect to enjoy the new pavilion this summer as well.

Funding for the West Pavilion included a $100,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, $65,000 from the Hyde Foundation with the remainder from supporters, said Beth Brock, board chairwoman.

The new space is west of the original market and has room for about 20 vendors.

Before, vendors used the space that was part of the parking lot and didn't really feel like a part of the market, Brock said.

"We wanted to do more for the vendors," she said. "We knew it wasn't ideal but it was all we could do."

"I think it's awesome," said regular shopper Jackie Oselen of Whitehaven. "It was a smart thing to do."

The Memphis Farmers Market opened in 2006 with 20 vendors. It now has more than 70 vendors. Also during those years, about 14 farmers markets, including markets in South Memphis, Cooper-Young, Arlington and Whitehaven, have sprung up.

With the shared goal of bringing more fresh produce to consumers, the more farmers markets the better, Brock said.

"We're so excited about the number of of farmers markets," she said. "It's wonderful."

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