One Houston nonprofit is doing its part to bring fresh produce to one of the city's food deserts. Urban Harvest's new Northeast Community Farmers Market aims to help the residents of Kashmere Gardens eat healthier.
"We keep encouraging people to eat healthy," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at the August 17 opening, "but you can’t just encourage people to eat healthy — you have to provide healthy options."
Managed by local gardening expert Timothy Hammond, the market takes place at Kashmere Gardens Elementary from 10 am to 2 pm on the first and third Saturdays of every month. People receiving SNAP benefits can take advantage of Urban Harvest's Double Up program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match up to $20 for items such as fresh produce, meat, dairy products, and baked goods. A new billboard campaign has been launched to increase awareness of the Double Up program.
Kashmere Gardens is still recovering from the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey. The neighborhood, which is located east of Interstate 69 and south of 610, is situated in a FEMA flood zone, according to Urban Harvest. Both Halls Bayou and Hunting Bayou pass through the neighborhood. Estimates suggest that as many as 79 percent of the homes in the area flooded during the storm. Adding the farmers market is part of a larger initiative to channel both public and private money to the area.
"Sixteen percent of people that live in this region of 5 million people have food insecurity,” Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis added. With the new market and increased awareness of Double Up, the hope is that number can be reduced significantly.