Thursday, September 13, 2012

Changes in Food Access in South Park

We're re-posting this piece written for the MOVE (Mapping Our Voices for Equality) blog, written by Seth Schromen-Wawrin of Creative Narrations. We've included links to the digital stories that were created by South Parkians as part of this project.

Improving the access to healthy and appropriate foods in the South Park neighborhood has been an ongoing focus of the MOVE project. A wide variety of projects and partners have been working hard to grow local produce and improve food access, some for many years. We wanted to check in on how things are going in South Park, especially since it is the height of harvest season.

A lot of activity is happening around Marra Farm, an amazing food resource to have within the city. Late summer is when gardens are bountiful and the Marra Farm Giving Garden, Mien Community Farm, and the P-Patch Community Garden area are having huge harvests of summer squash, cucumbers, corn, green beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, tomatillos, greens, and a wide array of herbs. Tomatoes and peppers are even coming in. It is a tantalizing harvest repertoire at the moment.

Lettuce Link has been holding gardening for good nutrition classes at Marra Farm for students from Concord International Elementary. These students get their hands in the dirt as they learn where food comes from. And in the process students make exclamations like "I want to eat ONE MILLION CARROTS" and provide deep philosophy such as "What is a weed? It is a homeless plant looking for a home." You can hear more thoughts from children about food in this video.

Throughout the summer, the Lettuce Link Giving Garden has been helping the South Park residents who have trouble affording fresh produce. People can take home a grocery bag full of fresh veggies in exchange for two hours of help in the garden. Marra Farm invites anyone to come visit and help out with farm chores during our work parties on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10am - 2pm. This is a great way to meet people, get some exercise and learn about organic gardening while improving food security in South Park.

There has also been a Community Kitchen at the South Park Community Center. This has been a great opportunity for community members to meet with each other and learn how to cook the produce in season. Martha Zuniga put together this story of participants thoughts.

The biggest news in South Park this summer is the opening of Stockbox Grocers in downtown South Park! It opened in mid August and sells a wide variety of staple groceries, including fresh produce from Marra Farm. This is exciting because the community has been asking for a grocery for years. Paulina captured this sentiment in her digital story. The community came together around this issue at a community forum last winter to ask Stockbox to move into South Park. Now they are there!

Even though all of this great work is happening in South Park, food access is still an issue for many residents. Growing local produce and making healthy foods more accessible are helping to address the issues. "At the same time," Amelia Swinton from Solid Ground says, "the fact that a hamburger costs less than a bunch of organic carrots, or that farm workers are the lowest paid and least protected sector of the workforce indicates that US agricultural policy is very, very sick." It will take continued education about the food system and community effort to improve their local food access to make South Park and King County a place where everyone can easily access healthy foods.

Find Seth's original post at

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