In parts of Wynwood, residents face what's known as a "food desert," meaning an area where affordable, nutritious food is difficult to obtain. As the neighborhood's rapidly gentrifies, few solutions have been offered to this very real problem.
But the Wynwood Green & Art Market at Bakehouse Art Complex will serve as the proverbial oasis in the desert. The idea was recently named one of the winners of The Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge, and a sprawling marketplace on the complex's 2.3 acres of land is on its way to implementation.
When Marte Siebenhar joined the crew at Bakehouse Art Complex last November, the artists in residence had been without a director for five long months. The creative energy of the complex was palpable, and ideas had long been simmering amidst the crew.
One such idea was a market -- a community gathering place and epoch of inclusivity for all local residents, many of whom have been marginalized by area development.
"The market came up as an early idea, a way to leverage our creative community as well as invite people into our space, which we have so much of," Siebenhar says.
Siebenhar decided to run with it, and applied to The Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge. The concept struck gold, and she and her team are now working through the initial stages of implementation for the project.
"We were so excited to win. We're working with the Food Policy Council trying to learn more about the farmer's market side of things since we are an arts organization."
"We're hoping to work with local vendors and people from the creative industry here as well as neighborhood residents. One of the stories you don't hear about is the population that existed before and still exists amidst the development of the Wynwood business district," Siebenhar adds.
Generally, farmer's markets tend to be on the pricier side, catering to a more affluent demographic of consumers. The Wynwood Community Market will operate via different ideals.
"We want to be a resource to local residents who are low on the socioeconomic scale. We're hoping to offer snap benefits and food stamps," Siebenhar says. "We want to be a space where everybody can gather and have access to healthy food."
In addition to farm-to-table food, herbs, flowers and plants, they'll offer Wynwood- and Miami-produced craft foods and products, as well as art, handcrafts, artisan products and used/vintage items and antiques. Plus, they're planning on free yoga, artist booths, and activities and hands-on crafts for kids.
It can also potentially serve as a venue for arts organizations and cultural groups, a platform, a meeting place -- the opportunities abound, in Siebenhar's vision.
So when can Wynwood expect this retail revolution to kick off? January 2015, Siebenhar says. It'll start running once a month on Second Saturdays, then expand to twice a month.
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"The best part about having it on our property is that we are responsible for this space, Siebenhar adds. "It's never going away and we have ownership over the space that'll ensure there's a commitment to making this happen in an ongoing way."
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