Much more than a market

By Sarah Mansur
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

When residents of Northeast Central Durham need to shop at a traditional grocery store, they must travel at least five miles to the nearest one.

Michael Kirk owns a farm in Efland and he sells some of his fresh fruits and vegetables at the Bull City Urban Market in Durham. (Staff photo by Sara Mansur)

But with the opening of the Bull City Urban Market, that is about to change.

The grand opening was on Oct. 28 at 800 Taylor St, which is right next to the Golden Belt complex.

“The vision for the Bull City Urban Market is to alleviate the food desert and promote food justice,” said Wanona Satcher, a consultant for Durham’s Neighborhood Improvement Services who specializes in community revitalization and urban design.

Satcher, who spearheaded the idea for an urban farmers market, defines a food desert as “a community that doesn’t have access to healthy, affordable, and quality food.”

She said the market will offer fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, non-perishable foods and toiletries.

“This epidemic is not Durham-specific,” Satcher said, “But it applies to Durham, and it is completely unacceptable.”

The indoor market, which is a total of 8,500 square feet, is not yet renovated.  Satcher said they hope to have indoor renovations finished by the beginning of January 2012.

As a market inspired by the people of Durham, members of the community are invited to volunteer their services to help with the renovations.

“This is their market so we need to get input from the community in any way we can,” said Herbert Johnson, president of the market and director of Feed My Sheep of Durham.

The philosophy behind the market is consistent with the Northeast Central Durham’s Livability Initiative, said Satcher.

“Our goal is to provide what we are lacking, which is access to healthy and affordable food,” she said.

The market will also provide an outlet for local farmers to sell their produce.

“There are so many farmers in the Durham area,” Johnson said. “They are small farmers but still farmers.  If they had a general area to come to, they would do so much better.”

Satcher and Neighborhood Improvement Services are working closely with the staff of Feed My Sheep, a Durham-based organization that feeds roughly 10,000 people annually, according to Rose Green, vice chair of Feed My Sheep and vice president of the market.

Feed My Sheep has a student gardening program with Eastway Elementary School and the market will provide an opportunity for the children to sell their crops, Green said.

“If we don’t teach our children now, we are going to lose our farmers,” she said.

Green said the indoor market will have a kitchen where volunteers can teach kids how to cook the produce that they grow.

Although one goal is to alleviate the food desert, Green said she wants the market to serve the community in other ways.

Green said they plan to offer adult education classes that teach residents how to dress for interviews, use certain computer software, and get back in the work force.

“This is just phase one,” Johnson said, “There is much more to this project than just a market.”



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