Nine months after a Kroger’s closing left much of Southeast Raleigh without easy access to fresh food, the neighborhood is getting two weekly produce sales.
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has launched a Saturday farm stand on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard – across the street from the darkened former Kroger. Each week this fall, two urban farmers will be selling their harvest outside Mount Peace Baptist Church.
“They are growing food in Southeast Raleigh right down the street,” said Cindy Sink, a spokeswoman for the food shuttle. “We’re also looking to get other farmers to contribute.”
The program launched Aug. 24 and has drawn dozens of customers so far, with more expected to shop once the stand begins accepting food-stamp benefits.
One of the farmers, Travis Taylor, said he’s excited about the opportunity to serve his own neighbors, and he’ll be helping to work the stand.
“They closed down most of all our grocery strores, so it’s like I’m a service to my community,” he said. “I’m teaching them different things about organic and good food.”
Soon the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will have a little friendly competition. On Sept. 28, Marrkens Development Center will launch a produce stand on East Lenoir Street. Isaiah Murray, who also leads two schools in Southeast Raleigh, said his group has partnered with a farmers’ cooperative called Prize of the Harvest. The co-op will bring an array of produce from farmers in the Carolinas and Virginia, and locals will be invited to sell baked goods and other items.
Marrkens is offering a limited engagement through Oct. 26, serving as a test run for a longer-term effort next year.
“We are looking to really grow it for these four weeks, and our goal and plan is that next year we open for the full season,” Murray said.
Murray’s group announced the plan earlier this year, securing a $10,000 grant from the Raleigh City Council. That raised concerns about Marrkens’ nonprofit status, which had been revoked at the time. Murray said he ultimately turned down the funding.
“We declined it because they wanted it at the former Kroger site,” he said.