Once Walmart left South St. Pete in 2017, any access to fresh fruits and veggies virtually disappeared, thus turning the area into a food desert.
“I found myself running all over to find fresh produce and found out my neighbors were having a worse experience,” Kim-Nikkol Patton, founder of South St. Petersburg Marketplace, wrote in a message to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
Patton says she thought it was unacceptable for her neighbors and other residents using rideshare, cabs, and public transportation to get food from other parts of the city. She used her relationship with the Historic Manhattan Casino (she’s on the Advisory Council) to use part of the parking lot as the venue—located at 642 22nd St. S—for the farmer’s market.
The first South St. Petersburg Marketplace launched last month. Vendors like The Lather Lab, Life Farms, and Florida Fruit Coop provide locally-sourced produce and other goods to area residents.
“This lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables has forced an already disenfranchised community to shop at corner markets and purchase unhealthy things. Our community is already plagued with generational pre-existing conditions,” she adds.
One thing that sets South St. Petersburg Marketplace apart from other local markets in Tampa Bay is residents with SNAP/EBT benefits can use them to purchase fresh foods.
“Beneficiaries get far more food for their buck with me than the big chain food store,” Patton said.
The market is every Tuesday from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Vendors can sign up via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Facebook page. It’s an outdoor shopping experience with social distancing (masks are mandatory) and every booth has a sanitation station.
“We are united, enriching the lives of the community, creating employment, and creating opportunities for generational health and wealth,” she said.
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