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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Schwartz’

Dr. Marvin Dunn surveys the Roots in the City garden and market.

The Roots in the City Farmers Market in Overtown opened on Wednesday Dec. 8th for its second season. You may remember that it ran for a couple months, March and April, earlier this year. Now it’s back at the same corner of NW 10 St. and 2 Ave. in Miami, and it’s grown a bit bigger with two new vendors, Gardens of TROY and Nature Boyz. The same growers from the first time are there also — RITC Gardens, Teena’s Pride, Redland Organics and Hani’s Mediterranean Organics.

The first day of the season called for Grand Opening festivities and VIPs. It wasn’t as crazy a party as last spring, but all the important people were there — chef Michael Schwartz, chef Michel Nischan, a PBS video crew, Farmer Margie and her intern Liberty, students from nearby Phyllis Wheatley Elementary, Dr. Marvin Dunn, Teena and Michael, an assortment of foodies and neighborhood shoppers, and most of the food bloggers in town.

Market co-founder and chef Michael Schwartz  brought his food cart, and his crew dished out grilled rosemary chicken garden vegetable chopped salad, which was quickly devoured. The recipe was created by a student from Phyllis Wheatley Elementary, where chef Michael recently visited, as part of the new Chefs Move to Schools program.Schwartz’s market partner, chef Michel Nischan, loped up and down the row of tents, stopping to greet growers and shoppers. Michel’s foundation, Wholesome Wave, donated matching funds to use with SNAP aka food stamps, good for up to $20 per person per day. Last season, a large number of people used the matching funds tokens to supplement their shopping.Chef Michel Nischon (plaid shirt) is trailed by producer Jon Crane and his crew, while farmer Margie Pikarsky looks on.

Michel was trailed by a PBS crew shooting a segment about him for the AARP show “My Generation.” He was speaking passionately about food and urban farming with producer Jon Crane. “You can be poor but still grow food and be sustainable. Brooklyn had gardens and chickens years ago. There are so many great stories in this community,” he said, looking around. “Food gives a person a sense of place, self esteem and security, and it reaches across all socio-economic strata. All differences melt away with good local food.”

Chef Michael Schwartz chats with Ben Thacker, Jepson Jean-Pierre and Antonio Moss from TROY Academy, while Alexandra Rangel videotapes.

Michael Schwartz stopped by to chat with two TROY Community Academy students and Ben Thacker, their gardening program director. Some of the things for sale at their tent were callaloo, carrots, passion fruit, aloe plants, and garlic chives. “Each kid has his own garden,” Ben said, “and they get to keep the money from selling their crops. All the kids are eating it.” Michael replied quickly, “Don’t eat it, sell it!” Ben said, “We’re trying to get them to eat more fruit.” “Ok, eat it!” Michael responded. The students laughed. Videographer Alexandra Rangel hovered nearby with her camera, capturing the conversation for a promotional fundraising video for TROY.

Several large, perfect cabbages at Teena’s Pride tent caught my eye, along with exotic looking pattypan squash. There were red round tomatoes, cucumbers, and an assortment of other veggies and fresh herbs. All those and more can be yours on a weekly basis if you join the Teena’s Pride CSA. It’s not too late to sign up, and there are about 100 spots left. For prices and details, email farm@teenaspride.com or call 786-243-1714.

Marguerite the Nubian goat hangs out with Hani Khouri and his wife Mary Lee, while customers sample fresh goat cheese.

Over at the other end of the market, Marguerite the Nubian goat was hanging out with her humans, ice cream and cheese makers Hani and Mary Lee Khouri of Hani’s Mediterranean Organics. Of course everybody had to come over to take pictures of the goat… pet the goat… sample the ice cream… maybe get a falafel wrap… At the next tent, Farmer Margie had a large array of fruits, vegetables and herbs. She’s also set up to take SNAP funds and credit cards.

It was a pleasant afternoon in the neighborhood, and the most important people there were the people who live in the area shopping for fresh food. During the spring, the beginning of market was slow but by the end of the second month, a good number of regulars from the neighborhood came by. If things go like last season, every week will draw more people out of their food desert to partake of locally grown bounty.

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Roots in the City Farmers Market in Overtown

Just west of new luxury high rises on Biscayne, a row of white tents sprang up on the corner of NW 2nd Ave. and 10 St., smack dab against a patch of young collard greens. Underneath the tents, farm fresh fruits and vegetables were arranged on tables. The newest farmers market was launched on Wednesday in Historic Overtown, one of the oldest and underserved neighborhoods in Miami. If people couldn’t come to market to get much needed produce, well, the market was going to come to them. There hasn’t been an actual farmers market in downtown for decades.

Locals checking out and buying from Redland Organics.

Two local growers were at the Roots in the City Farmers Market. Farmer Margie from Redland Organics put out a colorful display of radishes and white Asian salad turnips, carrots and celery, Asian greens, loquats, canistel and black sapote. Under the next tent, farmers Teena Borek and her son Michael from Teena’s Pride Farm brought tomatoes, red bell peppers, white eggplant that looked like bowling pins, and bunches of greens.

John Lealand Laundry likes celery.

The market was open from 1 to 4, and there was a fairly steady trickle of curious neighbors wandering over. A lot of looking, a bit of curious sniffing and tasting, but mostly people were excited that a farmers market suddenly appeared on their street. People bought a few things, choosing carefully. One resident told me that there are several groceries in the neighborhood, including a Winn Dixie on the other side of I-95, but produce is very expensive.

Market tokens

Some neighbors paid with cash and some were happy to find out they could use food stamps. That was the best part, the most amazing thing. The Roots market is set up to accept food stamps (also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). Even better, the Roots market has implemented a Double Value Coupon Program that would double the value of a person’s food stamp purchases. For example, if somebody bought five dollars worth of veggies, they would get that equal amount in tokens they can then use to buy more food at the market.

This bit of shopping ingenuity and the Roots market came about from the collaboration of many entities. The Wholesome Wave Foundation has set up similar “Nourishing Neighborhoods” programs at over 80 farmers markets around the country, and provided leadership, training and seed money. Health Services Coalition handled the actual SNAP transactions, acting as a go-between the farmers and the buyers, and is putting the word out in the community. Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink enlisted Margie and Teena, the first two local family farmers to participate, and helped with fundraising and promotions. And the Roots in the City community garden (which is raising nearby collards, and has two acres of garden in the immediate area) offered space for the market, and added its produce to sell.

People from HSC on hand to handle SNAP sales and manage tokens.

The Roots market will have a dedication ceremony in two weeks, on Wednesday April 7. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has been invited, and there will most likely be other dignitaries attending. The market will run for four weeks, with maybe an extension for four more, and is scheduled to resume in fall.

Listen to Low-cost produce comes to Miami’s Overtown, the WLRN report by Joshua Johnson, here. The Genuine Kitchen has posted the press release (with lots of good information) here. And Mango & Lime posted her report on the market opening here.

Miss Sarah tells it like it is to the media.

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