The Westside Growers’ Market is an initiative led by the Garden Angels responding to the desire to provide fresh, healthy and affordable produce to the neighborhood. Ultimately the goal is to establish the base for a community owned grocery store. Affordability is enabled by the connection between production by Historic Westside growers and the Westside Growers Market. Produce is grown in the community at Historic Westside Gardens market-garden at the Urban Fresh site. This connection between production and distribution reflects HWG’s philosophy and practice “to foster community self-determination, building equitable network around healthy, fresh and affordable food.”
HWG is building a cycle from producing fresh, healthy vegetables in the community, by the community, to selling it to residents. This cycle creates a flow of information and feedback which will help calibrate quantity and variety of the production and reduce waste. It is the key to reaching our primary objective: providing quality affordable produce to residents. The Garden Angels research produces prices at existing area businesses (the neighborhood Walmart, farmers markets, and other retail businesses) and set a more affordable price. By developing a local production capacity whose primary client is the community—through the intermediary of the Westside Growers’ Market—HWG helps reestablish trust in the food produced locally and keep dollars in the community. By being a community-based business it has the potential to impact the community sense of agency and control over its vitality and viability.
This approach is anchored in the work of several investors and economists who develop and advocate for the local economy solution as a redevelopment model. The emergence of a local network of community-supported businesses encourages local capital to create in-place job growth, which is a fundamental economic multiplier. The Westside Growers’ Market’s link with the growers network as a business model builds a placed-based economy which has the advantage of being rooted and contributes to plug the leaks of buying goods and services from outside businesses, saving residents' dollars to be recirculated in the community.
In 2016, HWG’s Garden Angels initiated and tested the Westside Growers Market at the corner of Lindsay street and North Avenue as an autonomous, community-driven program, supported by HWG and the Atlanta Community Food Bank/Food Oasis which helped with logistics and provided produce to diversify the range of vegetables and fruits accessible. In 2017, Westside Growers’ Market became the only farmer’s market of its type in the community. Food Oasis continues to support the Growers’ Market by providing access to the Wholesome Wave “double-your-EBT” capacity and a small amount to purchase fruits, letting the growers earn the difference. Since 2017, the Westside Growers’ Market has been located at the corner of Lowery and Boone boulevards in the core of the community. It operates three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The market also reaches residents with pop-up locations in multi-family housing in underserved areas such as Odyssey Villas, Villas of the Dome, and Troy Street, developing a broader consumer base. In 2018, the goal is to operate the market five days a week.
Ms. Rosario Hernandez, a resident and leader of the community who was hired by HWG as our first Community Food Organizer, is the lead organizer of the Westside Growers Market. In 2017 she inspired the other Garden Angels to link their gardening coaching work to developing the market through the development of the market-garden at Urban Fresh.