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Healthy Foods, Support for Local Farmers and Jobs for Richmond Youth

CM Staff

Jul 18, 2023

One of the most pressing issues we face as a community is the existence of food deserts, areas where residents lack access to fresh and healthy food options. Richmond has an unexpected location grappling with this problem: the Richmond Marina. Despite its scenic beauty, this area has long suffered from a lack of grocery stores or other nutritious food sources. Vice Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and I have joined forces to tackle this issue head-on, and we are thrilled to share our plans for a transformative project that will benefit the entire city.

For some time Marina residents have been asking about the possibility of having a farmers’ market at the Marina. Working with board members of the Richmond Certified farmers’ market We have envisioned a vibrant weekend farmer's market at the Richmond Marina, akin to the bustling Jack London Square farmer's market. Picture a lively atmosphere teeming with healthy, organic foods, delicious prepared food vendors, healthy activities and entertainment. Our aim is to establish a place where healthy food is available each week and to create a destination that attracts people from all of Richmond, offering everyone a beautiful and enjoyable experience.

To make this vision a reality, we have begun the process of assessing potential locations for the farmer's market. Additionally, we have been in close contact with Tom Cloman of the Richmond Farmers Market, collaborating on strategies to make this vision a reality. After confirming the potential location, we will meet with the neighborhood council and other stakeholder groups to get their feedback and ideas. Then, we will work with Tom to secure the necessary permits to establish a certified farmer's market in Richmond, ensuring quality and authenticity for our residents and with Kitchen Table Adviser’s, California Association of Family Farmers, the Black Farmers Association and Urban Tilth to secure a wide range of regionally local small, family, women-led and BIPOc sustainable farmers to offer the fruits of their labors to our community each week. 

One aspect that particularly excites me about this project is the opportunity to support local farmers who have dedicated themselves to sustainable and heartfelt agriculture practices. Through my work as executive director of Urban Tilth, I have had the privilege of working alongside passionate BIPOC farmers, small family farmers, women farmers, and LGBTQ farmers within a 150-mile radius of Richmond. These exceptional individuals cultivate exceptional food, encompassing delicious heirloom varieties and organically and sustainably grown produce and they need more places to sell their beautiful and nutrient dense produce.

In our efforts to create a diverse and vibrant market, we are committed to including a wide range of offerings. We aspire to feature fresh produce as well as products such as honey, herbal medicines, soaps, and prepared foods, all aligned with our focus on health and deliciousness. By doing so, we hope to infuse the farmer's market with a rich cultural tapestry, enhancing the overall experience for attendees and fostering a sense of community.

Another significant aspect of this project is the potential to provide much-needed support to small farmers. One of the challenges they face when participating in farmer's markets is the difficulty of leaving their farms unattended for an entire day or weekend. To address this, we aim to collaborate with the employment training program in the city of Richmond, so that for farmers who need it they can work with a Richmond resident in need of a job to run their farmer’s market stand while they run their farms. By connecting young individuals with farmers and providing them with this new job training and employment opportunity, we can ensure that the farmer's market runs smoothly while simultaneously offering valuable work experience to our youth. This approach would  allow farmers to focus on their core responsibilities without compromising their presence at the market.

Our farmer's market initiative presents a win-win situation for everyone involved. It addresses the food desert issue, providing access to fresh and healthy food options for residents. Simultaneously, it generates new employment opportunities and fosters economic growth. By supporting our dedicated local farmers, we celebrate sustainability, diversity, and the preservation of age-old farming traditions. Furthermore, this project will undoubtedly enhance the cultural fabric of Richmond, transforming the farmer's market into a lively Sunday destination for the entire community to relish.

As we move forward with this endeavor, we encourage the support and involvement of Richmond's residents. Together, we can create a thriving farmer's market that uplifts our community, nourishes our bodies, and strengthens our connections with local farmers. Let's seize this opportunity to eliminate food deserts, empower our youth, and celebrate the remarkable bounty that Richmond has to offer.

Imaged pulled from the Richmond Farmers Market google review.

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