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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

The Free People’s Market Opens in Mount Vernon

Isa Moise and Ruby Olisemeka

Isa Moise and Ruby Olisemeka

Ruby Olisemeka doesn’t like the term poverty. She prefers divestment, which gets to the source of the problem. She initiated The Free People’s Market nearly a year ago to counter divestment in the City of Mount Vernon, by distributing nutritious organic and sustainable food for free or “pay what you can” prices while building community and creating grassroots change.
   
Mount Vernon has a poverty rate of 14.7 percent—higher than the national average—and the problem is worse in pockets, Olisemeka says.
   
“Our market operates in one of the major community-divested centers in Mount Vernon,” she says. “This area has a high concentration of lower-income housing. While there are a considerable amount of food pantries in Mount Vernon, all serve conventionally farmed and highly processed foods. We hope to continually be a space where residents can obtain nutrient-dense, organic, locally grown fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs and milk.”
   
The market will be open one day this month, May 11 at 1 p.m., at the Mangoville Jerk Yard, 134 South 4th Avenue. From June through October it will be open every Tuesday at 1 p.m.
   
Although she and Geoff Munroe currently facilitate the market with a volunteer crew, it’s a community effort, Olisemeka says.
   
“We are organized, but not an organization,” she says. “We’re leaning on a more cooperative model and have some administrative and resource support from organizations such as Rock Steady Farm, Good Food Farmers Network, WESPAC Foundation, Mama Earth Farms, Our New Way Garden, Mangoville Restaurant and Break Bread Not Hearts.”

For more info, email Olisemeka at [email protected]

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