Food insecurity in Camp Washington is no secret. For years, the neighborhood has been burdened with the label of “food desert,” which means that it does not have reliable access to supermarkets and fresh produce. Calcagno “Cal” Cullen, executive director and co-founder of Wave Pool, is looking to improve the neighborhood’s access to healthy food options with a local farmers’ market, which begins on July 7 at Valley Park. In partnership with the Camp Washington Urban Revitalization Corporation (CWURC), the market will be open from 4 to 6 p.m. each Thursday through the end of October.
“We started Wave Pool to be dedicated to listening to our community and responding to their needs in creative ways,” Cullen says. “Food access has been the top priority for residents of Camp Washington being an area without a grocery store. A lot of residents who don’t have their own transportation. The farmers’ market is the next step for us in order to try and fill those gaps and provide regular food to our neighbors.”
To achieve this, the farmers market will feature more than 10 local vendors of produce and baked goods, including The Shroomery at SA Farm, Maker’s Bakers Co., and Wave Pool’s own The Welcome Project. The event will also feature a variety of artists, such as RedBud Locker and Madeline Ndambakuwa, to support Wave Pool’s central mission of creating community change through local craftsmanship.
This is just one of the most recent Wave Pool initiatives to help provide fresh foods for the neighbors of Camp Washington. In 2016, the non-profit worked with the Camp Washington Community Council and Camp Washington Urban Farms to bring a free produce cart into the neighborhood. While the produce cart is no longer a program that Wave Pool offers, it was a critical step in creating the farmers’ market.
The successes and challenges of that program served as building blocks for the organization’s food access efforts which are grounded by a strong foundation of meeting the residents of Camp Washington and witnessing the effects of the food desert firsthand.
“I think that that project really shaped a lot of what Wave Pool does because it engaged us in a really helpful way with the neighborhood,” Cullen explains. “We met a lot of neighbors and realized that the needs in the neighborhood, at least in 2016, were not just access to food, but education. From that point onward, this food access issue has been at the top of our minds as one of the things that we can affect change.”
Cullen hopes for the market to find an indoor venue for the impending cold winter months, more vendors to support the Camp Washington community at the market, and expand the general community pantries that populate the neighborhood.
“[The market] is going to start out small and flow as things do,” she adds. “It’s going to be an organic growth. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, it’ll be much more robust with 20 to 30 vendors. That’s our goal.”