With all the discussion about making local food available to communities there usually comes a time when those markets are criticized for being exclusionary. Primarily because local food tends to be produced by small farmers, and small farmers do not receive government subsidies that offset production costs, the food found in local food markets tend to be priced higher than what some groceries like Aldi or Grocery Outlet can offer.
Local food markets like farmers markets and indoor year-round local market such as The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia accept SNAP benefits and senior vouchers, often at additional 1:1 or 1:2 discounts to provide for even more healthy food availability.
I visited the Beacon Food Forest in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in the southern area of Seattle in February. Occupying about 2 acres on the edge of Jefferson Park, the land provides an additional 5 acres of expansion capability for additional plantings in the future.
The Food Forest broke ground September of 2012 with a coordinated effort with volunteer work parties over a series of days planting on about 2 acres. Adjacent to one of the Seattle P-Patch sites, the area already draws a considerable volunteer effort to grow vegetables in the community garden. Careful record of volunteer commitment is kept and garden plots are assigned without fee to people who have participated. (For grant purposes, volunteer hours are set at $22 per hour and are used to match program funds.)
The concept of a Food Forest is to build a permaculture site that will produce edibles perennially. Forty trees that are planted will bear fruits and nuts in about five years. There will be bee hives on site which will help with pollination, as well as berry bushes and other plantings that will last for dozens of years.
The city of Seattle coordinates the P-Patch sites and since the Food Forest is under that umbrella it benefits from the coordination. Volunteer parties range in size from 70 to over a hundred with people coming from all areas of the city, not necessarily from the neighborhood. Community building is the important issue…the garden gets done.