L.A.'s loneliest farmer's market
Building a farmer's market in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles was a good start, but getting people to shop there is proving difficult.
This story was originally reported by PRI's Living on Earth. For more, listen to the audio above.
Many African Americans in L.A. aren't eating enough vegetables. California's Department of Public Health says less half of African Americans in the state get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables—often because fresh produce simply isn't available where they live.
The Harambee Farmer's Market was an attempt to change that. Located in the heart of L.A.'s predominantly African American Crenshaw neighborhood, the market was supposed to provide an alternative to the low-quality produce and processed foods sold by the chain supermarkets nearby.
Unfortunately for the market's organizers, local residents and vendors have been slow to accept the supermarket alternative. "The big supermarket may not have quality produce but it is convenient and familiar," King Anyi Howell reports for PRI's "Living on Earth," "while the farmer's market remains hidden in plain sight."
One local resident complained about the market to the L.A. Times website, writing:
This is a poor excuse for a farmer's market. In all of zip 90043, which houses more than 40,000 persons, this is what we get. Unfortunately it speaks volumes about what we don't get from our respective representatives, and how apathetic we have become about all of this
In response to the paltry attendance, the African Firefighters in Benevolence Association that organizes the market has started adding more regular activities, including live music and self defense workshops. They also accept WIC vouchers.
The Harambee market takes its name from a Swahili word meaning, "all pull together." And "traffic at Harambee is slowly picking up," according to Howell, who reports for Planet Harmony, a new online offering designed to have special appeal for young African Americans. Howell pursued a few local residents who headed toward the Ralph's chain supermarket nearby, asking them why they didn't shop at the Farmer's market. One person responded, "I didn't know about the market and now that I know I will go." With help from dedicated local residents, others might follow.
Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More "Living on Earth."