Tuesday nights at South Park Plaza is the place to be. Cultivate South Park—a coalition of South Park residents dedicated to building community through food and public spaces—hosts El Mercadito, the newest famers market in Seattle.
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture identified the census track that includes South Park as having a substantial share of residents that are low-income, more than a half mile from the nearest supermarket, and without a personal vehicle. El Mercadito was started last year as a community response to the food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic. When many workers were laid off or had their hours reduced and could not afford food, community members stepped in to ensure that families had access to fresh, healthy food. El Mercadito was a market-style food bank led by Cultivate South Park’s Director of Urban Fresh Food Collective Monica Perez who served free produce to South Park residents – no questions asked – behind Resistencia Coffee.
lIn June, Cultivate South Park received a $153,307 grant from Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) to support food banks who serve r low-income individuals and families in the Delridge, Georgetown, and South Park neighborhoods. A few months afterwards, organizers reached out to the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) for permitting support in creating a new farmers market. OED staff from across the department provided technical assistance to Cultivate South Park and worked closely with Seattle Parks to coordinate and align a smooth process for permitting and vendor compliance.
El Mercadito expanded and launched as an official City of Seattle Farmer’s Market on August 24 and is a new space for local artists, artisans, and small farmers, and continues to offer free produce to community members. Vendors may sell culturally relevant food and good such as clothing, accessories, jewelry, and other items made from indigenous women from Mexico. Since it’s opening, OED staff have staffed tables at the market to provide technical assistance to business owners and connected community members to other programs OED offers such as the Digital Sales Access Program and the Youth Web Design Program.
El Mercadito is open every Tuesday from 3 – 7 p.m. at South Park Plaza, 8456 Dallas Ave S. Know a food business or creative who is interested in vending at El Mercadito? Sign up to become a vendor at El Mercadito. And be sure to follow El Mercadito on Instagram (@elmercaditosouthpark) or on their website.
Article Source: News from City of Seattle