L.E.A.D. Looks for Food Justice Even While the City Closes Farmers' Markets

Categories: Food Politics
​​By now, you've already heard that the City of Miami has closed down farmers' markets in Liberty City and Overtown and put up extremely insurmountable barriers to their reopening. These gatherings offer mostly locally grown fresh produce to neighborhoods where it's difficult to find anything green that's edible.

"Other cities are subsidizing farmers markets, yet Miami is shutting them down," said Erin Healy founder and CEO of Youth L.E.A.D., which empowers under-served teens to become activists in the fight to bring healthy foods to poor neighborhoods. "What are we doing?"

Originally from Rhode Island, 32-year-old Healy has lived all over the world, from New York to West Africa, and she uses her public health degree to work toward achieving food justice -- providing equal access to food, and specifically healthy foods.

She combines, she said, "my background in public health and my passion for environmental conservation." Healy also works with the South Florida Food Policy Council, a new group that is looking to create structure and community representation on policy issues that affect low-income neighborhoods.

Other neighborhoods with more privileged residents like Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Coconut Grove all have farmers' markets that thrive without confronting the same barriers. The folks being affected by all of this red tape are the "people who need access to these foods the most."

"Access to healthy foods is a right for everybody." Healy notes.

This movement has been growing nationally over the last ten years. But in Miami, the City is asking markets -- which are run mainly by volunteers and local school children who grow the food that's for sale in urban gardens -- for copious amounts of cash to reopen. All the markets in District 5 have been helping to provide low-income residents with food by accepting EBT cards and offering discounts.

While Urban Greenwork, a local organization that works with edible and native landscaping, is attempting to streamline the permitting process with the City, the rest of us can join the rally tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Roots in the City in Liberty City on NW 2nd Avenue and 10 Street.

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It's time to start naming names. What city department or division is tasked with permitting and who is in charge. When articles just mention "the City" it gives the reader a nebulous entity to focus on. Knowing who exactly is behind this push would probably be of great interest to readers.

Gary Neece
Gary Neece

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