Urban farm, Farmers Market, and teaching kitchen. Oh My!
Often, the most simple, straightforward statements or questions produce the most innovative, impactful solutions. Case in point: Harvest Park, a concept that was hatched more than three years ago when, at a neighborhood meeting, a resident asked the following question:
“The ice cream trucks have no problem selling ice cream in our community — I just wish there was a truck that sold vegetables!”
That idea was the impetus for the Mobile Farmers Market, a service of the wildly popular Hub City Farmers Market. That “truck that sells vegetables” is today 3 years old, and has sold tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to Northside residents and many others throughout the county simply by bringing the option to their neighborhood. Last year alone the Mobile Market sold 5 tons of veggies!
But while the truck was and remains a great resource, Northside residents made it clear it was not enough. The area has long been classified as a food desert, meaning access to fresh fruits and vegetables was non-existent with the nearest full-service grocery store more than a mile away along a heavily traveled thoroughfare not conducive for travel except in a motorized vehicle. Indeed, for years, Northside residents have dreamed of a place where the community could learn how food was grown, buy it and learn to cook it.
And that is the concept behind Harvest Park, a development that will house an urban farm and greenhouse, the Saturday Hub City Farmers Market, and the Monarch, a retail space and teaching kitchen. A concept like this takes more than just wishes to come true. It takes multiple partners, and Harvest Park is a testament to the power of the partnership between the Northside Development Group, the City of Spartanburg, the Butterfly Foundation (which will own and operate the Monarch), and the Hub City Farmers Market (which will manage the farm and market space). All four parties are committed to a development that will ameliorate the food desert and create a significant new community amenity that will draw residents from throughout the Northside and beyond.
Harvest Park is set to open in late August and will be the first commercial development to result from the Northside Initative.