New market gives East Austin link to local farmers



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Posted on October 14, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 14 at 9:40 AM

AUSTIN -- A business built with city dollars and community grants is up and running. It gives East Austin its first link to local farmers.

Once labeled a food desert, the East Austin neighborhood of Rosewood is slowly seeing change. It begins inside a 600 square-foot market. With rows of fresh produce plucked straight from Central Texas soil, the Rosewood Community Market is a first of its kind.

The market fills a void for the 4,000 people living within just one mile of the store at the intersection at Chicon and Rosewood Avenue. Until doors opened at the market, residents had virtually no access to local produce.

"We try to work with as many local producers, farmers and artisans and people like that as we possibly can," Founder Allen Rogers said.

He adds that he searched the region to stock his shelves. His chicken comes from Peeler Farms outside of San Antonio. The beef is from the Bastrop Cattle Company.

East Austin's Johnson's Backyard Garden, Springdale Farms and Hausbar Farms provide local produce. Everything in between comes from a larger distributor centered in Austin: Segovia Produce on 7th Street.

Rogers set out one year ago to turn the corner storefront into something the entire community could benefit from.

"What we've seen more than anything in the store is people come in and they want to have conversations. Your grocery shopping and food buying experience isn't really like that anymore," he said.

But the surrounding neighborhood is a struggling one.

"We definitely knew we had our work cut out for us in terms of reaching people who are having a really hard time," Rogers added.

He says he studied the demographics. Most families around there make less than $30,000 a year. Rogers said because of that he is turning his market into a community co-op.

"We're doing job creation in the neighborhood. We've hired high school students from a local high school at Eastside Memorial to work here," he said. "We are here to support the community, here to do what we can to help people."

It's a small start to what could be a big change for East Austin.