-excerpts via thenation.com
Today, an integral part of Roselawn’s neighborhood will be missing. After failed negotiations between Kroger executives and City Council, Kroger will move forward and close their Roselawn store today. There are feelings of outrage by Roselawn’s residents, and community leaders who describe the neighborhood as a “food desert”. After Aldi’s closing in Avondale and now Kroger’s leaving Roselawn, it’s easy to see that fewer grocery stores in urban communities. If you think this is just a problem in Cincinnati, you’re wrong. In Detroit, there are no chain supermarkets within the entire city limits. In Washington DC, lower income wards must travel longer distances than residents in other wards to the closest full-service grocery store. While some cities are facing this problem other cities have found solutions.
San Fransisco has not only given the black community convienent, healthy, grocery food, but they have given opportunity to black farmers. The “Mo’Better Farmers Market” was created to “protect, preserve, and promote the well being of blacks in agriculture, by establishing markets for their produce, in communities that lack access to fruits and vegetables first”. The market has been successful, drawing up crowds of 150-200 people per weekend. In New York, community activist Asantewaa Gail Harris has organized successful black farmers markets, in Brooklyn. With fresh produce being a rarity in her burrough, and with black farmers struggling financially, she thought a black farmers market would be a win-win situation. “We had been around to all of the Green markets in the city and did not see farmers of color,” Harris said.
Black farmers have been struggling financially. This is mostly because of a longstanding pattern of discrimination at the Agriculture Department against black farmers applying for farm loans. They’ve currently been in the news with their racial bias settlement, awaiting for the government to pay up. Arizona farmer, Norvel Clark believes black farmers hold the building blocks for a new inner-city economy. “I want to grow the best stuff and have the easiest market available.”
A farmers market could be a golden opputunity for Roselawn and the tri-state’s black farmers. With the departure of Kroger, Roselawn can be an easy market for black farmers or even Roselawn citizens trying to make an extra dollar. With summer approaching this could give teens and young adults, a chance to grow their own produce and benefit from it. More importantly, a farmers market will promote a healthier community. Let me know what you think, or other ideas you may have to solve the lack of grocery stores in urban neighborhoods.