Second Saturday food celebration grows in downtown Raleigh

cmyers@newsobserver.comJuly 5, 2014 

  • Want to go?

    The next Second Saturday will be from about 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Raleigh. The event will features a walking tour, a do-it-yourself salsa station, urban farm volunteer work day and a pop-up market from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. outside Escazu Chocolates and Stanbury restaurant at 938 N. Blount St. Some of the vendors at the pop-up market include Locals Seafood and lucettegrace, a new bakery opening soon in downtown Raleigh. To see a full schedule of Second Saturday activities, go to raleighfoodcorridor.org/secondsaturday/

It’s common knowledge that Raleigh loves its First Fridays, when arts events take center stage. But Erin White of Community Food Lab hopes to make the city just as enthusiastic about another day: the second Saturday of the month.

“We want to do for food what First Friday did for art,” White says.

Armed with several whiteboards, White recently led a group of about 35 people on a walking tour of the area coming into its own known as the Raleigh Food Corridor. The corridor is a 2-mile stretch of downtown along Blount and Person streets where individuals and organizations are trying to bring diverse communities together through food-related projects.

The whiteboards were a tool for engaging the group, an aspect of the Second Saturday push that White calls a key to its success. Throughout the walk, which began in Moore Square and wove through downtown, participants were encouraged to write down ideas on the whiteboards, take photos of themselves holding the boards and post them to Instagram.

“Rooftop garden” was scribbled on one board. “Grow food here!” was accompanied by arrows on another.

“I want you guys to look around and think, ‘What could be here?’ ” White told the group.

Activating community

Although individual businesses and organizations have celebrated Second Saturday before, June marked the start of a push to tie the events together. Will Jeffers of Stanbury restaurant is described by many as the man who started it all. Jeffers was behind the Stanbury & Escazu Pop-Up Market back in May, which he described as an answer to the lack of farmer’s markets in the area.

Although Jeffers said the number of people who visited June’s pop-up market was about the same as May’s, he pointed out that the Second Saturday movement as a whole was gaining widespread interest.

The Community Food Lab and the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation created a website and printed out maps and brochures to get the word out about the various happenings.

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle held a volunteer event to build a shade structure for its community garden. Communications director Cindy Sink said the organization’s partnership with the Second Saturday events was natural.

“It’s just one more service opportunity,” she explained. “But we feel like we have a very large stake in anything that goes along with urban agriculture.”

Many hands, one purpose

Downtown resident Jenny Harper, along with partner Lauren DeSimone, worked hard to install a new garden plot on the corner of Cabarrus and Person streets.

Centro restaurant hosted a DIY Salsa Station using ingredients from their rooftop garden. Members of the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club staffed the station, working next to rising eighth-graders from Exploris Middle School who were decorating planters made from recycled containers.

Marbles Kids Museum held one of its weekend Garden Gourmet events, which let children sample recipes made from fresh ingredients. Rebus Works art gallery and framing shop added a raffle to benefit the nonprofit Toxic Free NC to its usual Saturday Market lineup. Joule Coffee offered a place for participants to discuss the day and plan for next month.

Danielle Centeno, an owner of Escazu, noted that the Second Saturday events attracted many who are already active in the local urban agriculture scene.

“Most of them are friends of ours, so it kind of feels like family,” she said.

But White remains optimistic that Second Saturday can be an effective way to engage the wider community. He pointed to some of those taking part in the walking tour who didn’t know much about it before arriving in Moore Square that morning.

Carleen Jamison, who is active in the Martin Street community garden, heard about the event on Facebook. She brought her son, Chance, to find out more.

“We wanted to know what’s going on,” Jamison said. “We need to know about our neighborhood.”

Staff writer Andrea Weigl contributed to this report.

Myers: 919-829-4696

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