Edison Neighborhood presence at the market – as vendors and shoppers, as workers and volunteers – contributes substantially to the prosperous, equitable, and sustainable economy envisioned by the Michigan Good Food Charter “…through a food system rooted in local communities and centered on good food.”  This post features Edison neighbors’ contributions as employees and volunteers, each carrying out their work as part of a broader commitment to a health-full livelihood for themselves, their families, and the Kalamazoo community

Edison resident Kama Mitchell works the Green Gardens Community Farm table at the market.  Kama, also a Board Member of the Kalamazoo People’s Food Co-op, believes in supporting local farmers, like those growing the food sold at the Green Gardens table, and she likes to buy locally made and locally grown products for her own household as well.  Personal favorites include the Baja Chick Pea Curry Fritters she had today at the pastry truck, along with asparagus, leafy greens, snap peas, and local honey that she has purchased in recent weeks.  “We are really lucky to have a market so big in a city of this size!” notes Kama.  We are lucky indeed.

Another Edison resident and KFM supporter, April Dungan, serves on the Edison Neighborhood Association Board of Trustees.  In her volunteer role as board member, she strives to improve food security and access for individuals with disabilities and for lower income individuals and families.  Why do April and Grady come to the market?  They believe in supporting local businesses, including farmers.  They also enjoy the comradery, the community spirit experienced at the market, with frequent purchases including flowers, produce, artisan jewelry and cheese, especially the blue cheese from The Cheese People.

Since one grocery store pulled out of the neighborhood, April noted, only one remains.  The KFM is “a great market”, yet most of those patronizing the market come from outside the neighborhood; it’s not utilized by residents as much as it could be, especially its SNAP program http://www.doubleupfoodbucks.org/how-it-works/farmers-markets/.  She would like see a pop-up market in the heart of the neighborhood, which could increase accessibility for residents in multiple ways.  And earlier this summer a satellite market, with both artisans and food producers/venders, had opened up on a trial basis on Washington Square.  In the future, April would like to see this become a permanently designated community space for market and other community activity.   She would also like to see the market deal with its accessibility issues for residents and strengthen attractions for both children and adults alike.

We are really lucky to have a market so big in a city of this size!
— Kama Mitchell

Shyneeta Rush also volunteers as board member with the Edison Neighborhood Association.  She and her family, including husband Carl and five children at home, all love the market atmosphere.  “I felt this connection” Shyneeta remarked, when she first came to the market some two years back.  “I come [now] for the Blackwell quiche, Italian sausage, shea butter products, eggs, and sweet potatoes” among other favorites.  Like April, Shyneeta sees the ability to use SNAP tokens at the market a real plus.  In the future she “would like to see more people know about the farmers market experience and enjoy it…the quality of the food is so much better” than what she finds elsewhere.  Agreed.

Across the board, Edison residents view the market as a means of access to good food and also something more.  It’s the market experience, the connection to a cacophony of color and sound, scents and tastes, the voices of the vendors, shoppers, workers, activists all, that keep Edison neighbors coming back…and us as well. 

(This post completes a three-part summer series on Edison neighbors at the market.  Previous posts featured the local “taco truck” and Edison residents shopping at the market.)