City officials say they are working to open a new farmers market in Parramore by late October, giving local residents who don't have a grocery story nearby a more convenient option to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
Last year, the City of Orlando was awarded a $250,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to expand healthy food options in West Orlando. Parramore has been termed a "food desert," which is an area without ready access to healthy and affordable food. Orlando was one of only three projects in Florida to receive the funding. The grant initiatives include creating 10 to 15 "farmlettes
" in residential front yards; teaching local residents about nutrition in partnership with Hebni Nutrition; and establishing a farmers market near the Orlando City Soccer Club stadium.
"This grant will help support our continued efforts to transform our urban environment and make our City more livable and sustainable," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a statement
. "Local food production through this program will not only further our sustainability goals, but also help us to expand food access in neighborhoods that need it most."
City staff is aiming for the market to be open on Saturday mornings, but they are still working out specific details on operation times, says Cassandra Lafser, spokesperson for Dyer's office. The market will be located on Pine Street across from the Orlando City Soccer stadium, which is partnering with the city on the project.
Lafser says the city will also be working with Seed2Source (one of the subcontractors for the grant) and local agriculture consultants to help put together an application process for vendors. Lafser adds that the city does not foresee any additional use of municipal funds outside of what Orlando was given by the USDA.
"We hope this process will help ensure the focus is on the local farmers, cottage food companies, and local distributors," she says.