I have started and am the Market Manager of a Farmers Market in the Miller section of Gary, Indiana. I would like to share some of my experience here regarding starting a market in a food desert and industrial wasteland. If you come to Gary, it is like visiting a third world country. There are no major grocery chains in the city. Many, many buildings and homes are abandoned and deserted. There are six Superfund sites that need attention. Several brownfields and contaminated groundwater sources have been identified along the shoreline. The state environmental agency has been crippled by a Republican governor and former Bush appointee.
Yet there is hope and a great response for the Market from this small beachfront community, which is set apart from the main part of the city. I have partnered with a church and we are developing the Market as a ministry that focuses on fruits and vegetables, healthy prepared foods and food products, nutrition, fitness and preventative healthcare and holistic healing. We are listed on Local Harvest as the Miller Beach Farmers Market.
I am reaching out to organic farmers in Illinois and Michigan as I am having a very difficult time finding any here in Northwest Indiana.
Here is a radio interview I did for the Miller Beach Farmers Market with a new local African-American progressive radio station. Because of recent flooding, the radio tower is submerged so you can’t get it on the radio, but you can get it on the Internet. Here is the link.
The host talks about food deserts and other topics before I come on at about 22 minutes in. And we talk for a nice long time, probably more than a half hour! We try to touch on why Gary is a food desert, how cool farmers markets are, what Gary and Northwest Indiana have to do to support the local food movement and small family farms, and how we made the Miller Beach Farmers Market a reality, our wonderful vendors, and how we’re struggling to keep it going. We also talk about peak oil, sustainability, home gardening, soil testing, brownfields in Gary, agri-business.
I am looking for feedback and networking opportunities with other urban markets that may be experiencing the same obstacles. There is little support or awareness here in Northwest Indiana regarding the local food movement and small family and organic farms and producers. Much of the support is geared toward agri-business.
Please contact Sandra Rodriguez at socheckchick at yahoo.com if you have any advice or resources.
(photo from provokare)