Posts Tagged ‘Roots in the City’

Correction: The CNN report on the Roots in the City Farmers Market has been rescheduled and will air on Tuesday May 4 at 10 pm on the Anderson Cooper show.

The media — most recently national TV news, along with local newspapers, TV and local food blogs — has been all over Roots in the City Farmers Market. It’s a small market, just four or five tents by the side of the road in a very poor neighborhood. From a distance it doesn’t look too special. But it is, and that’s why the media keeps coming back.

The big deal is that the Roots market is the first farmers market in Florida specifically created to use the Double Value Coupon Program, funded by Wholesome Wave. The coupons enable people purchasing with food stamps (SNAP/EBT) to buy twice as much, up to $20, using special tokens. The program is already in 80 markets in 12 states, but those markets already existed and had food stamp program in place before Wholesome Wave came in.

Melissa Contreras (left) explains tropical fruit.

National TV news visited last week. On Wednesday April 21, a CNN crew consisting of reporter John Zarella, his cameraman Mike, and a field producer who was darting around with a notebook, hung out at the market all afternoon. Most of the people who created the market were on hand for interviews. Founder and Chef Michel Nischan chatted with a lot of enthusiasm on camera. Chef Michael Schwartz and Dr. Marvin Dunn (and several family members) were on hand for interviews, along with people from the Human Services Coalition. A school group came by, and the kids looked at, touched and tasted different fresh vegetables. Several people who came to shop were also interviewed. Some came over from downtown (where more than half of the shoppers are coming from), and some from the neighborhood.

Melissa Contreras, who was helping out at the Redland Rambles tent, spoke on camera about different tropical fruits — tamarind, canistel and black sapote — that were available. Farmer Teena Borek sliced up a hothouse cucumber and was handing out samples, and suddenly everyone around was eating cucumber and liking it. Mike the cameraman was bedazzled by pretty vegetables and took lots of video of carrots. And cucumbers. And greens. Zarella stopped to buy a small bottle of tupelo honey from the Redland Organics tent before they wrapped up for the day.

Mike the cameraman really likes carrots.

The market has plenty of funding, and is gradually picking up steam. According to Caitlin McLaren of the Human Services Coalition, the Wholesome Wave Foundation gave them a grant of $11 thousand to pay for tokens and farmers. By the fourth week of the market, they still have plenty of money left, having spent about $400 in matching funds. It’s taken a while but the market finally has more EBT than cash sales. Farmer Margie said that about half her sales are EBT and she’s getting regulars. “One lady was already here at 12 waiting while we were setting up,” she said, and added that several homeless people come by from week to week to get food.

Douglas Dunn, who helps run the Roots community garden, explained “The market attracts a lot of white Hispanics. About 70 per cent of the customers work close by and drive by, or have read about it in the paper. It’s going to take some time to get the word out.” As Douglas explained that to me, a man walking across the street called out, “Do you take food stamps?” Yes was the answer. The man stopped for a moment, said he’d be back and headed down the street.

Hani and Mary Lee talk about goat milk ice cream on camera.

Unfortunately the growing season is winding down as the weather gets hotter, and the market will close sometime in May. There might be fruit sales in the summer, but that isn’t certain yet. It all depends on what the farmers have to sell. Market manager Maggie Pons said they’re definitely going to be back in the fall. Hopefully the market will take off, for the sake of the people who need it the most.

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Just a reminder that the Grand Opening Celebration of the new Roots in the City Farmers Market will be next Wednesday, on April 7, starting at 1 pm.

Scheduled festivities: Ribbon-cutting, performances by the Booker T. Washington High School Band and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink will offer complimentary samples of dishes from the school’s cookbook, created with the market’s fresh produce.

There’s a great picture of Farmer Margie in the Miami Herald today! It’s on page 2A, or you can see it online.

Affordable farmers market nourishes Overtown residents

A new farmers market aims to make fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to Overtown residents.


Sarah Wallace can barely remember what it was like to eat fresh spinach, collard greens and carrots. It has been years since she has been able to afford any of her favorite fresh vegetables on $40 a month in food stamps.

Typically, Wallace makes do with canned beans and corn. That’s why she couldn’t help fighting back tears at the recent opening of the Roots in the City Farmers Market across the street from her Overtown apartment.

What makes this market different from others around South Florida is that it offers lower-income consumers the opportunity to eat healthy by using their food stamps to make subsidized purchases. For every $1 in food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars, they get $2 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables. The limit: $20 per day of free produce.

Wallace, who has lived in Overtown her whole life, didn’t believe the market was going to happen until she saw the trial run for herself last Wednesday. She walked away with a big bag of fresh produce and the hope that it dispels the notion that African Americans don’t want to eat fresh vegetables.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/30/1555973/affordable-food-nourishes-neighborhood.html

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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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