New farmers market concept to alleviate east side food desert

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A bright idea on the Indy's east side may be turning a food desert into an oasis.

The area near 10th and Oakland became a wasteland for affordable produce after Pogue's Run grocery store shut down.  People have been resorting to traveling farther, or turning to pricey convenience stores for food.

“You just can’t get good fresh food at the gas station really, or it costs too much," said Odessa Wallace, who runs the Indy Community Food Co-op.

Wallace began making an impact on the east side through her co-op that runs a share program.  Shares come in $25-$50 bundles of goods, which helps locals fill their stomachs with fresh food that often comes from local sources.

“I just pack it as full as I can, and put as much food in there for your money and stretch it," Wallace said of her affordable food system.

As she searches for a new location for the co-op, she is pairing up with her new business partner, Eric James, to spearhead an upstart initiative called the East Side Marketplace.  The weekly farmers market is expected to open in front of Brookside School.  They will provide food from local farmers, with some of the goods coming from their excess produce.  It's a win-win for the community and local producers.

“We are working with other farmers that are buying into this vision of not only selling produce, but providing fresh, affordable produce to an underserved community," James said.

The market will open weekly starting in mid-April.  If successful, they may expand to being open multiple times a week.