Thursday, January 29, 2009

Better access to local foods

Here at the Mecklenburg County commissioners' retreat – at the Lodge at the Ballantyne resort – the commissioners are spending most of the afternoon giving 10-minute talks on issues they'd like the board to take up later.   Meaty, but not exactly earth-shaking news.

For instance, they discussed homelessness and concluded, in effect, that it's definitely a problem, and they will look at what they might want to do about it in addition to what they're already doing.

But here's an interesting one: Dan Murrey made a pitch for the county to do more about helping people have access to locally grown, healthful foods.  "Our diet is based on foods being shipped from around the world," he noted, and he also pointed to the growing problem of childhood obesity. "There are some neighborhoods where there are no grocery stores," he said, or where the stores don't have good (or any) produce.

He suggested getting the Park and Recreation department to offer community gardens. (In fact, P&R already does that, but could do a lot more, as their program now is quite low-profile.) 

Long-term, he said, the county should look at the feasibility of a permanent farmer's market that's accessible by transit. He didn't say this, but much as I love the state-run Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Yorkmont Road, whoever decided to locate it there was nuts. It isn't centrally located, isn't in any densely developed area, and isn't accessible by transit. 

Some other, seasonal markets have sprung up but they aren't in permanent sites or open year round, or well-distributed around the county.


Rick said...

Isn't there supposed to be a permanent market in the Center City Green building going up right on the Lynx line? If so, problem solved. Let's see how that pans out first why don't we?

The current location for the regional farmers market is pretty aweful. I'll give you that. But the problem with putting something of that scale in a cetral location - meaning Uptown - is the wildly varying size of the thing on a week to week basis.

Go in the spring and early summer - it's pretty large with approaching a hundred total vendors I'd guess. Go now and only the indoor shed is pretty full with maybe some people in the craft barn.

I hardly seems like a wise use of Uptown space to accommodate the largest size of the market in the spring time when it's not nearly that big most of the year.

There does seem to be a growing number of fresh meat vendors at the Yorkmont location, but there is a limited number of people who will buy rabit, goat, and ostrich. There's also a limited number of peole who will pay the price premium on grass fed beef and organic free range eggs. I doubt the people who live in lower income neighborhoods that don't have a grocery store will be lining up to get those items even if they are on a transit line.

This sounds like another one of those ideas that is better and more useful on paper than it would be in reality.

Anonymous said...

For it te be accessable by transit, doesn't mean it has to be uptown. I would prefer it not be uptown. If I am driving to it, I want to be able to park somewhere close to it and not across a street in a parking deck. The "green" one has been anything but lackluster so far. It's a shame that a city the size of Charlotte does not have better options.carie