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.
The Mary Black Foundation, a local non-profit that has been greatly influential in the Northside Initiative awarded several grants to several Northside Initiative projects. Project grants include $84,250 to the Hub City Farmers Market for the Healthy Food Hub and $50,000 to the Butterfly Foundation for a culinary training program that will be located at the Healthy Food Hub.
Grants such as these have made up a large part of the financial contributions directed at the Northside Initiative.
To learn more about this round of grants awarded by the Mary Black Foundation, visit the Spartanburg Herald-Journal here.
The Northside Initiative received a substantial boost from Milliken & Co. in the form of volunteers and a contribution of $250,000. Milliken, with its dedication to Spartanburg as a whole, held a volunteer-day during its annual company meeting. The efforts serve to support the financial contribution Milliken made earlier. Volunteers were spread out around the community. Projects included building a community garden at the Healthy Food Hub, working on a Habitat for Humanity home, and landscaping projects.
Director of Milliken's public affairs, Richard Dillard, stated that the company “wanted to back up [their] financial commitment with hands-on support”. The support of Milliken demonstrates the continued efforts of area companies, organizations, and leaders to ensure the success of the Northside Initiative.
Learn more about Milliken’s support of the Northside Initiative in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal here.
The Northside Development Corporation has received a loan of $350,000 from Lowcountry Housing Trust. The loan will go towards land improvements at the site of the Healthy Food Hub. The facility will serve as a major anchor for the Northside community. Including Hub City Farmers Market, a culinary training program, a community garden, and a retail store, the Healthy Food Hub will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to community residents.
As part of Lowcountry Housing Trust’s work in diminishing health disparities and improving communities’ health, this loan will benefit the work that the Healthy Food Hub will do. This partnership marks another for the ambitious project. Curt McPhail of the Northside Development Corporation stated that NDC, the Healthy Food Hub, and partners were “fortunate to have [Lowcountry Housing Trust] as an investor.”
To read more about the Lowcountry Housing Trusts loan click here.
The Northside Initiative has garnered another grant of $375,000 from National Institutes of Health to study the effects of the Healthy Food Hub on Northside residents. The grant, to be administered by University of South Carolina researchers, will track the effects of the Healthy Food Hub on dietary habits of community residents. The Northside community is situated in what is called a “food desert” – an area more than a mile away from a large grocery store and without easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Being located in a food desert can negatively impact the health of area residents.
The Healthy Food Hub, which will be the first completed project of the Northside Initiative, has the mission to provide healthy foods, both fresh and prepared, to community residents. The facility will also house a community garden, along with a farmers market. The locale will also house the Butterfly Foundation, a culinary training program. The goal of the Healthy Food Hub is to improve the overall health and well-being of Northside residents. Curt McPhail, project manager for the Northside Initiative stated that this grant will “provide measurable data on the [effects] of the Healthy Food Hub”. The project is aimed to be finished in the summer of 2014.
Click here to read more on this article from the Spartanburg Herald- Journal.