The three partners sponsoring the Southeast Area Farmer’s Market (SEAFM) are wrapping up their planning sessions next week. The partners include Kent County Health Department (KCHD), Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council (GGRFSC) and Our Kitchen Table (OKT). OKT has taken the lead management role for the farmers’ market. Grant dollars from the Kellogg Foundation pay for the OKT staff managing and promoting the market as well as for the seeds that are being planted this week in the greenhouse. Many of the starter food plants grown from these seeds will result in food harvested and sold at the market by neighborhood growers.
It has been a long, sometimes tedious and often intense process—a process that has often come smack up against the institutional racism that has led to food insecurity in urban neighborhoods across the nation. OKT surveys of neighborhood residents have shown that, contrary to some experts’ beliefs, Grand Rapids’ southeast neighborhoods are not food deserts. Many folks are growing their own food in their yards or in community garden plots.
However, many more do not have access to a wide range of healthy foods as corner stores and fast food restaurants remain major food sources—and they often offer foods that lead to obesity, diabetes, heart problems and, among children, behavior issues.
That’s why this farmers’ market is so important. Everyone, no matter what their income level or which neighborhood they live in, deserves access to safe, fresh local produce and other health-giving foods. Ultimately, the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market belongs to people in our neighborhoods. Please come on board as an additional partner in the market! Not a silent partner—spread the word that fresh food is coming back to the neighborhood this June. And feel free to tell OKT what we can do better to make the market truly belong to community.