A Fresh Face for Fresh Food in Ft. Greene

August 16, 2013

Pictured: Dominique (right) with Jenetha Rooks, Farm Stand Manager, at the Myrtle Avenue Farm Stand

Meet Dominique Bryant.

She’s one of Fort Greene’s most community-minded residents. In addition to serving as president of the Ingersoll Residents Association—providing leadership for the nearly 4,000-person housing development—she helps to run a weekly farm stand at the corner of Myrtle & North Portland Avenues. 

It’s there as a representative of the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP) that she gets to talk to her neighbors about one of Fort Greene’s most critical issues. While Myrtle Avenue now attracts foodies far and wide as a dining destination, long-time residents feel that affordable fresh food is beyond their reach. When she’s not at the farm stand, she’s visiting local daycares, senior centers and health clinics to provide information on enrolling in and using benefits at local fresh food outlets.

Almost half of the families living in the Ingersoll and Whitman public housing communities on Myrtle Avenue live below the poverty line. It’s Dominique’s mission to see that, regardless of their income, they can still get wholesome fruits and vegetables at the same cost of a meal at a fast food chain. 

Two years ago, MARP released the results of a community food assessment for Fort Greene and Clinton Hill (read it here). The study showed that the adjacent neighborhoods lack grocery stores that provide fresh, affordable options, and while the cost-of-living rises, better quality food retailers rarely accept SNAP/EBT or WIC benefits.

As a result, residents rely on local bodegas and delis for daily shopping, which provide few fresh produce options.

MARP and the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Community Food Council Steering Committee, which Dominique is also a part of, put forth a comprehensive plan to change their hyper-local food system. Among its many strategies, the Myrtle Eats Fresh initiative is setting out to get more residents to shop at farmers markets that accept SNAP/EBT and WIC benefits, while making the markets centers of learning around healthy eating.

Each Wednesday, July through October from 8am to 3pm, you can meet Dominique at the Myrtle Avenue Farm Stand, which features an abundant harvest from Nolasco Farm in New Jersey, fresh bread from Le Petit Bakery on Myrtle Avenue, and much more, at truly affordable prices.

In addition, you’ll also find local residents trained to be Myrtle Eats Fresh Community Chefs, like Darrell Robinson, demonstrating how to use the fresh produce to make delicious dishes. Customers who participate in a cooking demo or a Farm Stand tour are rewarded with $2 Health Bucks to spend on the spot!

More than fresh produce is budding along Myrtle. There’s a new energy and action around making Fort Greene/Clinton Hill a better place for everyone to eat and live well. To get involved, contact MARP at info@myrtleavenue.org or 718-230-1689.

Made Possible By Donors Like You

Brooklyn Community Foundation is proud to fund these efforts through our new Healthy Communities initiative to empower residents of public housing neighborhoods through healthy eating and active living. Stay tuned for much more information on this transformative effort in the months ahead!