If it seemed like the conversation on food deserts in Guilford County had calmed down a little bit over the last two years – well, it’s about to get more attention again.
On Sunday, August 18, the NC NAACP’s Anti-Poverty Committee, in collaboration with Sandhills Cooperation Association and Sandhills Area farmers, will start the “Bountiful Land Food for All” Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Trinity AME Zion Church at 631 E. Florida St. in Greensboro.
The new market will offer fresh, local, seasonal produce.
According to a press release this will be the group’s “initial salvo to end food apartheid.”
In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about too many Guilford County residents being a good distance from stores and markets selling healthy foods – and some national studies have put the county high on the list nationally due to the extent of “food deserts” in the area.
The Bountiful Land project includes two strategic initiatives: One is to get “fresh, whole, affordable foods to local food deserts” and the other is to “offer new commercial outlets for small farmers of color.”
“These twin aims are designed to make food deserts habitable for families who are denied convenient access to mainstream grocers and to ensure that black and brown growers are able to retain their family farms by keeping them productive,” the press release from the group of collaborators said. “The direct-to-consumer seasonal produce will be priced to make healthy eating affordable and accessible to all citizens (irrespective of income) on the east side of Greensboro. The Bountiful Land Food for All Farmers Market will offer Greensboro’s hungriest citizens fresh, nutritional supplements to the shelf stable items provided by food pantries.”
The project is part of the NC NAACP’s larger “Loaves and Fishes” initiative that’s meant to promote food justice and community development across North Carolina.
Deborah Barnes, the chair of the NC NAACP’s Anti-Poverty Committee, stated this week that this help meets a very important need in Guilford County.
“Food security – access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life – is, or should be, an inalienable right,” she said. “That anyone is denied access to healthy food in one of the wealthiest, technologically advanced nations of the world is nothing less than a crime against humanity. Thus, ensuring food justice in North Carolina is a moral responsibility that demands our immediate, concerted response.”
The Bountiful Land Food for All Farmers Market is also being established to help build stronger intergenerational, interracial, interfaith communities that “honor our common humanity and needs.”
After this initial event Sunday, markets will be held regularly – every two weeks – throughout the fall at Trinity AME Zion Church, starting on Sunday, Oct. 13.
“…initial salvo to end food apartheid.” Why did people see the need to use such inflammatory language? I just don’t understand why this idea couldn’t have been presented in a positive manner instead of so “in your face” which makes me fuming mad. The Florida Street area of Guilford County isn’t anything close to South Africa so using language to compare that concept is just nasty and mean.
The totals included for the food desert count in Guilford County are a skewed reflection of the problem the NAACP is addressing inside the city of Greensboro. The studies are based on people who live more than a mile from a grocery store, but many more live in the County outside Greensboro and live miles from the nearest store. I lived in a food desert for over 25 years in the Brown Summit area and had to drive over 8 miles to get to a grocery store that was either in Summerfield, Hicone Road or Pisgah Church Road in Greensboro. I admit we had transportation so a trip every two weeks to a store was possible, supplemented by produce grown by ourselves and neighbors. We now have a store closer to us, just a mile down the road, but it does cost more than the stores that are further away.
“, … ensure that black and brown growers are able to retain their family farms by keeping them productive,” and what, to hell with the white farmers keeping their farms productive? Do they know how many small family farms have been lost in Guilford County, how many black and brown workers no longer have jobs because those farms have been sold to developers? I drive past so many places coming home from town that used to be lovely farms that were full of crops and livestock that are now just crowded developments. They have added irritated drivers and traffic to the roads, light pollution to the night sky, paved areas that cause flooding when it rains.
Why couldn’t this concept have been a positive one that said they were adding a Farmer’s Market to the Florida Street area to make it more convenient for those who found it difficult to get to the others in the County due to transportation problems and they were going to encourage small family farmers to bring their produce to the market (and then limit the size of the farmers who could participate and disallow those participating in the other two markets already established)? This could be a positive idea instead of a divisive one, a negative one, encouraging everyone on the East side of Greensboro/Guilford County to participate.
Language matters. Until we stop talking about race there will always be a race problem. We have to do this together.
“Food apartheid?” Dramatic much? There is a farmers market on the corner of Lindsey and Yanceyville, less than 2 mile from the Trinity AME Zion Church…
According to the USDA who tracks food deserts in the US, 24 Census tracts in Guilford County were designated in 2013 as “food deserts,” characterized by low access to healthy food outlets. The USDA defines these areas are locations where at least 1/3 of residents live more than a mile from a supermarket and over 20% of residents live below the poverty level. Food desert areas in Guilford County are in high-poverty, high-minority areas of Greensboro and High Point. These areas of the county lack supermarkets but tend to have numerous convenience stores and other small markets. It is the word Desert that causes us in the US to visualize, a harsh, hot, dry environment and quickly associate it with a third world county. Perhaps our language as a one size fits all is not adequate in this instance; a nutritional desert is more realistic.
A desert is a natural phenomenon, but food insecurity zones are anything but natural and systematically designed. There are many hardworking homeowners that live within these nutritional zones who are NOT affected and hopefully do not know they exist. To the extent that black farms are mentioned selling within these zones is applaudable. I pray that minorities can begin to look within for solutions to their food nutrition zones and hold their black & brown churches accountable who do not promote a holistic healing approach.
Of the 3.2 million farmers in the United States only 45,000 are African American farmers or someone who makes decisions. There is no need to go into black farmer injustice. History and economic scholars continually point to the millions of acres that we systematically wrestled from this class of farmers. As a veteran of the armed forces I am grateful to have stood shoulder to shoulder with all classes and race of people, our rally around our fundamental believe kept us focused. This is my believe as an American & citizen of this globe.