UPDATE: Roots In The City Farmers Market Now Open!

UPDATE: The spring market season went very well!  For the current season schedule, please visit our market page on the blog.

Come one, come all…  It’s the launch today of a very exciting program in Miami-Dade County to double the value of purchases made with SNAP (food stamp) benefits!

Thanks to founder and CEO of Wholesome Wave Foundation, Chef Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room (Westport, CT,) the new Roots in the City Farmers Market will open for business for the first time today between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. at the corner of Northwest Second Avenue and Tenth Street in Overtown, Miami, FL, accepting both cash and Electronic Benefits Transfer cards! Chef Michael met Chef Michel at the 2009 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Dinner In Paradise event.  When Michel was ready to take his national program to South Florida, he enlisted Michael’s help.

Our family farmers in The Redland, Teena and Michael Borek of Teena’s Pride and Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven, have generously agreed to come to market for the pilot program and will join Roots In The City founder Dr. Marvin Dunn and growner/market manager Maggi Pons to sell locally-grown produce so that all people can have access to affordable, healthy food in Miami.  We hope you get involved either as a customer, volunteer, or donor!

Click here for photographer David Kehr’s Flickr photostream of our spring opening day festivities in April!

Wholesome Wave Foundation Joins Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Human Services Coalition, and Roots In the City to Establish a “Nourishing Neighborhoods” Double Value Coupon Program Pilot in Miami, Florida

New Roots In the City Farmers Market Launches in Overtown as First Urban Farmers  Market in the State to Offer Two for One on Local, Healthy Fruits and Vegetables Purchased with Food Stamps

MIAMI, FL (March  24, 2010) – The Wholesome Wave Foundation, founded to make locally-grown, healthy, and sustainable foods available to all, has partnered with Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, and Human Services Coalition to bring its “Nourishing Neighborhoods” Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) to Miami-Dade County.

The market, which will take place on Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., first opens to the public on Wednesday, March 24 at 1:00 p.m.  On Wednesday, April 7, a dedication ceremony featuring a slate of grand opening events will take place.  The DVCP pilot will double the value of benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Food Stamps at the brand new Roots In the City Farmers Market in Overtown (southwest corner of NW Second Avenue and Tenth Street,) one of Miami-Dade County’s most underserved communities.  The Roots In the City Farmers Market will be open to the public for both EBT and cash transactions, Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. through the end of April, resuming in the fall when the main growing season returns.

Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan and Michael Schwartz, chef/owner of Michael’s Genuine, are leading a coalition of local farmers, chefs, and businesses to offer two for the price of one on fresh, local fruits and vegetables.  Food stamp users will be incented to forgo less nutritious, cheap calorie foods in favor of those that are more healthful, and now affordable.  Wholesome Wave is providing overall leadership, seed funding from donors, technical support, and direct outreach to State and Federal agencies.

Food stamp use nationwide is at an all-time high, helping to feed one in eight Americans and one in four children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Census Bureau.  In Miami-Dade County alone, 17 percent of low-income individuals and families currently participate in the program, or equal to 436,408 customers, up 45 percent since 2007.

“Because of the social entrepreneurial vision of Michael’s Genuine, HSC, and Roots In the City, we have an impactful, passionate team bringing an affordable, sustainable way of feeding families to Miami,” said Michel Nischan, President and CEO, Wholesome Wave Foundation.  “Our goal is to serve as a model for the rest of the state by demonstrating how this Wholesome Wave program is not only essential for their well-being, but that it can be economically viable as well.”

Michael Schwartz, recognized for his farm-to-table cuisine and commitment to the sustainable food movement, is identifying local farmers, enlisting other chefs and businesses, as well as raising awareness in support of potential fundraising efforts to expand this program beyond Miami.  Michael Borek of Teena’s Pride, a family farm in the Redlands that supplies Michael’s Genuine with high quality heirloom tomatoes, is one of the participating local owner/growers and will bring to market items like vine ripe red and heirloom tomatoes, hydroponic lettucesand sweet corn.  Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm also in Homestead will sell her fresh certified organic vegetables like Asian greens, and local, tropical fruits in season.

“Supporting our local growers has always been a priority of ours at the restaurant, but locally-grown, fresh foods shouldn’t just be for people that can afford to dine out,’’ said Schwartz. “I’m really excited that this program will both increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the parts of our community that need it most, and serve as an economic stimulus for local agriculture.  It’s a win, win.”

The Human Services Coalition will perform a dual role, spearheading community outreach with funding from the Knight Foundation to raise awareness among constituents of the program, and operating an EBT booth with training from Wholesome Wave to facilitate the SNAP transactions.

Colleen Perdue, vice president of programs for HSC is also excited to be involved.  “The Overtown community has historically had little access to affordable, healthy foods,” added Perdue.  “Working with our network of partner organizations, we will introduce the Roots In the City Farmers Market to the neighborhood and create a healthy hub that will nourish and sustain it for the long term.”

Space for the market and booth has been provided by Roots In the City, Inc., a nonprofit, community-based organization that has transformed several vacant lots in Overtown into community gardens and tree nurseries since its formation in 1994 by author and academic Marvin Dunn, Ph.D.

“We’re thrilled to have Wholesome Wave take an interest in our garden to help it grow and nourish the surrounding Overtown neighborhood,” said Dunn.  “A weekly farm stand that offers an incentive to our community to shop and cook local in their kitchens at home is a powerful combination that will affect real change with our residents.”

The South Florida pilot will be the 12th state and more than 80 th market Wholesome Wave’s “Nourishing Neighborhoods” Double Value Coupon Program has expanded to since its launch in 2008.

Added Nischan, “Uniting these community partners in Miami helps Wholesome Wave build a national case for the DCVP so that this model might become a permanent part of the American landscape.”

About Wholesome Wave Foundation: The mission of the Wholesome Wave Foundation is to nourish neighborhoods by supporting increased production and access to healthy, fresh, and affordable locally grown food for the well-being of all. Wholesome Wave Foundation achieves success through partnership-based programs that serve food deserts of historically excluded urban and rural communities. By creating connections between these neighborhoods while providing diversified market support for farmers, Wholesome Wave’s “Nourishing Neighborhoods” programs raise visibility of existing Federal, State and local governmental agency programs.  Its core Double Value Coupon Program, which launched in 2008, has expanded to more than 80 markets, 12 states and the District of Columbia. Visit wholesomewave.org to learn more.

About Michael’s Genuine: With a menu that reflects owner/chef Michael Schwartz’s commitment to the sustainable food movement,  Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink has established itself as one of Miami’s most acclaimed and successful restaurants since opening in Miami’s Design District in March 2007.  Schwartz’s championing of local farmers and organic products, has placed him at the forefront of a grassroots movement that has helped focus attention on South Florida and its agricultural bounty nationwide. A 2010 winner of the James Beard Award: Best Chef South, Schwartz is a member of Slow Food Miami, is on Food and Wine magazine’s Grow for Good Campaign Committee, and part of the advisory board for Miami Dade College’s new soil to soil culinary arts program launching in January 2011.  Michael recently opened Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman (summer 2010) and his first cookbook, Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat, will be released February 15, 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.michaelsgenuine.com and the restaurant’s blog at http://www.thegenuinekitchen.com.

About Human Services Coalition: Founded in 1995 as a Miami-based, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Human Services Coalition (HSC) identifies and launches innovative strategies to help people and communities thrive, and to help create a more equitable and caring society. HSC works through a network of partner organizations, linking people with financial education, healthcare information, public benefits, and educational and economic opportunities. Programs are designed to promote economic self-sufficiency, participation in civic life and respect across many divides. The organization’s mission is to inspire people to get involved and prepare them to step up to leadership roles that lead to long-term community transformation. Funders include The Children’s Trust, Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, The Children’s Trust and Allegany Franciscan Ministries. For more information, please visit http://www.hscdade.org

About Roots In the City: Founded by author and academic Marvin Dunn, Ph.D. in 1994, Roots In the City is a non-profit, community-based organization located in the Overtown neighborhood in the shadow of downtown Miami. Roots In the City is focused on community development, creating jobs and beautifying Miami’s inner city.  The organization has established several community gardens and tree nurseries in Overtown. Community volunteers and Overtown residents make up the heart of the organization. They maintain the gardens and nurseries year-round.  Roots In the City receives support from hundreds of volunteers through organizations such as Hands on Miami, Touching Miami with Love, and Miami Dade College. The vegetable garden is located across the street from the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church on the northeast corner of Northwest Ninth Street and Northwest Third Avenue. The two-acre lot features collard greens, citrus trees and papayas. The fertile garden yields fruits and vegetables throughout the year and supplies locals with a healthy supply of greens often missing from their diet. Freshly grown produce from the garden is offered free to the community through giveaway programs to schools, community agencies and homeless shelters.  Produce is also sold in markets and local stores. Funding for Roots In the City comes primarily from the City of Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which supports the organization’s Landscape and Horticultural Training Institute for inner-city residents.  The organization has received funding from Miami-Dade County Community Image Advisory Board (CIAB) for the beautification of I-95 through Overtown and from the Dade Community Foundation.  For more information, please visit http://www.rootsinthecity.net.

Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm in The Redland (Homestead) shows Chefs Michael Schwartz and Michel Nischan her Loquats!
Bee Heaven’s radishes are ravishing!
The Roots in the City market site in Overtown.
Farmers Teena and Michael Borek of Teena’s Pride Farms interact with market customers.
Look at those onions! (Michael Borek must be Tweeting or something :) )
Roots In The City Grower and Market Manager Maggi Pons shows off her gorgeous lettuce (with her broccoli rows in the background.)
Pons keeps her lettuce perky in shallow trays of water.


2 thoughts on “UPDATE: Roots In The City Farmers Market Now Open!

  1. Hi Jackie, it was great to meet you at the opening of the market. Am glad to see Michael’s is involved, and I’m looking forward to the cart. The rest of the day went well, with a fairly steady trickle of curious neighbors. See you at the dedication ceremony on April 7th!

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