Free “how-to” garden class tonight!

Deanna 2How to Plan Your Food Garden
6 – 8 p.m. Monday July 27
Garfield Park Lodge
334 Burton St. SE 49507

Our Kitchen Table is offering its “How to Plan Your Food Garden” tonight. Facilitated by OKT garden coach, Mary Colburn, the class shares tips on soil, planting and caring for food plants, with special emphasis on achieving success in an urban setting. A requirement for OKT residential garden program participants, the free class is open to the public.

Farmers’ market Fridays & Saturdays!

IMG_5517Shopping the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market is more than a convenient way to pick up fresh, locally grown produce. Every dollar, EBT swipe and Double Up Food Buck you spend helps build a new, alternative food system on Grand Rapids southeast side — and helps put an end to the food apartheid that denies so many of our community members from access to healthy foods.

The market operates at Garfield Park, 334 Burton SE, on Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. and at GR Ford Academic Center, 851 Madison SE, Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This weekend both market sites are hosting cooking demos and sampling. In addition, Saturday’s market has a new vendor, Bonao Cacao. Sales of their USDA certified organic cacao products help families in the Dominican Republic earn fair wages and safe livelihoods.

SEAFM ad 2015

FREE Mobile Food Pantry at LINC

Thursday, July 23, 4 – 6pm @ the LINC Gallery, 341 Hall St. SE

LINC UP is collaborating with Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) to host a FREE Mobile Food Pantry for  local community members this Thursday.The FAWM Mobile Pantry is like a farmer’s market on wheels, providing fruits, vegetables, dairy, bread, & dietary staples straight to the community.  Each pantry provides about three days’ worth of supplemental food for 100-200 people. In addition, LINC is looking for volunteers to help run the event.  If you are interested in helping out, please contact Willie at the phone or email below. Questions?  Contact Willie Patterson at 616.451.9140 or

The Rapidian: “Local market creates access to fresh food in urban neighborhood”

Reposted from The Rapidian. By Nicholas Garbaty

Locally grown food sits on a vendors table at the South East Area Farmer’s Market /Nicholas Garbaty

The Southeast Area Farmer’s Market, run by Our Kitchen Table, sells locally-cultivated produce and goods in the southeast community of Grand Rapids. It aims to foster social justice, with the market as just one area in which that mission is lived out.

Blending groceries with a cause, the Southeast Area Farmer’s Market brings together local vendors and produce to help make natural food more accessible to the area. Located at Garfield Park (2111 Madison SE) on Fridays and the Gerald R. Ford Academic Center (851 Madison Ave SE)on Saturdays during the summer, the market is currently managed by Our Kitchen Table (OKT), a grassroots nonprofit organization that works with the communities of Grand Rapids to sustain healthy living and social justice.

The market started out as a collaboration between the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council and the Kent County Health Department 11 years ago. Since then, the main management of the market has shifted to OKT, but the goal remains the same.

“This market matters because it’s about addressing that we need to be here no matter what,” says Lisa Oliver-King, executive director of OKT. “It is supported by a community of color saying that they want to see food system change in their neighborhood.”

Most of the food sold at the market comes from urban farms within the area, none of which is out of season, according to Christina Flier, the market manager for OKT. Flier, along with other members of her community, helps out at the Thomas Street Community Garden in the Baxter neighborhood, which in turn sells its produce to the market.

“We all have a passion and our main passion is that everybody has access to food,” Flier says. “There aren’t a lot of grocery stores around here that you can go to and get fresh produce, so making that available to people is our main purpose.”

Though smaller in size, the market offers a range of products, from vegetables and fruits to spices and tea leaves. The type of food and the vendors change weekly, so each week offers a slightly different selection than the last.

Roscoe Price, an 87-year-old vendor, sells cherries, peaches and corn as well as J.R. Watkinsproducts. He’s sold the Watkins products alone for more than 30 years.

“We are the oldest direct-selling vendor in the USA,” Price says. “You go to the store, you won’t get the same results.”

Another vendor and member of OKT, Laura Casaletto, sells foraged materials, such as different grasses, leaves and berries, for use as tea ingredients. To her, great food can be easy to find if one knows just for what and where to look.

“There are things for you to eat everywhere,” she says. “I sell things to chefs in restaurants who’ll pay $40 a pound for stuff that is growing right [in my yard].”

Casaletto teaches foraging classes and engages in other projects with OKT, like the extension of bike lanes and planting of fruit trees in parks, to help educate and improve the community.

The market emphasizes the people of southeast Grand Rapids, but it has drawn in and welcomes people from outside the area, too.

“We’ve had constituents from East Grand Rapids, Caledonia, Wyoming, northeast and northwest Grand Rapids,” Oliver-King says. “We have had patrons from people who just drive by and see our yellow tents. They stop to see what we have and they come back.”

Food Justice Primer Monday evening, July 20

IMG_5176Food Justice Primer

Monday July 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Garfield Park Lodge

334 Burton St. SE 49507

For the better part of a decade, people in West Michigan have been excited about and explored the importance of eating local and eating organic. The idea of eating healthier foods in many ways has become mainstream. However, for people experiencing income challenges or living in neighborhoods of color, access to these healthier foods is not a reality. A true food apartheid exists in our community—and that’s where the work of food justice begins.

If you want to know more about that work—or become involved in it yourself—please join us for this brief introduction to food justice. OKT team member, Stelle  Slootmaker, will facilitate an informal dialogue on the principles of food justice with group input on how we can practice it locally.

Farmers’ Market in full swing at Garfield Park and Ford School

SEAFM ad 2015The Southeast Area Farmers’ Market is well underway at two convenient neighborhood locations:

  • Garfield Park, on Fridays, 3 to 7 p.m.
  • G R Ford Academic Center on Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Our Kitchen Table’s new market manager, Christina Flier, brings experience in finance and food gardening as well as a clear awareness of justice issues. A woman of color living in the Baxter neighborhood, Flier also has become adept at preparing healthy, whole foods as her young daughter has many food allergies. “Having grown up growing food, I understand the importance for having access to fresh food and building a healthy, positive relationship with food. Food is the true medicine, life,” Flier says. “Food is a human right, not a privilege and teaching people to grow their own food and giving them easy access to fresh local produce is a great start in bridging that gap.”

Speaking of justice issues, did you know that Our Kitchen Table operates the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market as part of its food justice mission?  If you want to know more about that work—or become involved in it yourself—come on out to the free Food Justice Primer, 6 to 8 p.m. Monday July 20 at Garfield Park Lodge.  For information on the market and other programs, visit or call 616-206-3641.

Monday! Fun and food at Cook, Eat & Talk

kALEOKT cooking coaches, Alynn Guerra and Toni Scott, are leading OKT’s free Cook, Eat and Talk Monday July 13 from 6 to 8 p.n. at Brown-Hutcherson Ministries, 618 Jefferson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.The menu will include kale chips and orange cilantro coconut smoothies.