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Farmer’s market planned for West Dayton

By Cornelius Frolik, Dayton Daily News

West Dayton is on track to get a new $3 million farmer’s market and food hub in 2022, which officials hope will expand access to fresh food in an area with limited grocery options.

Homefull says construction likely will begin this fall on its new facilities on the former Carlson Elementary School site at 807 S. Gettysburg Ave. in the Pineview/Fairlane area. Homefull, a nonprofit that owns an adjacent property that offers supportive housing, plans multiple phases of redevelopment to support housing, food and jobs, said Tina Patterson, the organization’s CEO.

“We have already made a significant investment improving this corridor and feel like this is the next step,” she said.

The new market and food hub will be built on a 16-acre site that was previously home to Carlson school.

Homefull purchased the vacant property for nearly $80,000 from Dayton Public Schools in mid-2019. The school closed more than a decade ago and was torn down.

The new farmer’s market will have indoor and outdoor spaces and Homefull plans to work with Five Rivers MetroParks to try to replicate its successful farmer’s market model, Patterson said.

MetroParks operates the popular 2nd Street Market in Webster Station, which has dozens of vendors, including many offering fresh food and produce, and others like artists, craft-makers and clothing sellers.

Homefull’s project will help alleviate health issues that too often impact households living in poverty, said Bill Tschirhart, Five Rivers MetroParks’ chief of administration, who wrote a letter in support of Homefull’s plans.

The area surrounding the proposed farmer’s market and food hub is a food desert, where residents have limited access to fresh and nutritious food, officials say.

The project will be similar to the 2nd Street Market because it seeks to offer consumers fresh, healthy and locally grown produce, meats, dairy, baked goods and other products, while also supporting local farmers, Tschirhart said.

Tschirhart said there’s plenty of room in the marketplace for both Homefull’s and MetroPark’s farmer’s markets because they serve different geographies and are located in areas where food options are in short supply.

“In addition to improved health outcomes for west and southwest Dayton residents, this is an important project for the betterment of our region because it makes access to fresh, healthy food more equitable and accessible to all Montgomery County residents,” he said.

The new food hub will provide local farmers with a place to sell their produce, and it will give grocers, institutions and the community a source of locally grown food, said Patterson.

“For the local growers, it’s an opportunity to get their food aggregated and sold,” she said. “And we are hoping to spur urban food producers.”

The project remains in the planning stages, but the hours of operation most likely would be Thursdays to Sundays, Patterson said.

The project will be funded with a variety of sources, including private and public dollars, as well as local and national support, Patterson said.

The state of Ohio’s $2.1 billion capital budget bill provided $500,000 for the farmer’s market and food hub project.

Job creation also is a significant benefit of the project, Patterson said, and Homefull plans to offer jobs with livable wages, benefits and opportunities for residents of West Dayton.

Mark Willis, director of Hall Hunger Initiative, said Homefull’s project is a promising opportunity to create jobs, bring healthy food to an area where they are needed and build a better community while helping the environment.

“It’s a big step towards our goal of building a more just and equitable food system,” said Willis, who wrote a letter in support of the project.

Food hubs are warehouses where farmers can take their produce to sell and grocers and institutions can buy what they need, he said.

“For the growers, it’s a convenient way to get their crop to market and for the buyers it’s easier than dealing with any number of farms,” he said.

Food hubs can support more local growers because they can focus on growing and don’t have to worry about and spend as much time on sales and marketing, Willis said.

Homefull says it plans to have climate-controlled agriculture on the site, like covered, year-round hoop houses. The nonprofit also plans to work with local partners to offer urban farming on part of the property.

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