A new farmers market is coming to Louisville's West End. Organizers hope it can expand

·3 min read

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Following a breakdown in talks on bringing a new grocery store to one of Louisville's food deserts, local advocates are not waiting to bring a new farmers market to the West End.

Black Market KY and #FeedTheWest founder Shauntrice Martin have partnered with Butch Mosby, a Louisville native whose Sponsor 4 Success organization supports local youth in need, to hold a farmers market from noon to 3 p.m. March 5 at Joe's Palm Room, 1821 W. Jefferson St.

Martin, who launched Black Market KY last year as a store in Russell focused on selling Black-owned products and produce at affordable prices, said numerous local farmers are among the market's 10 confirmed vendors so far, with about 10 on a waiting list.

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Mosby, who grew up in west Louisville and is living in Germany, was part of a group that submitted a bid for $3.5 million in city funding to help open a new grocery store and retail center at Ninth and Muhammad Ali streets.

His group lost out to Louisville Association for Community Economics and the nonprofit's Louisville Community Grocery, but Metro Government leaders recently ended the deal after saying LCG did not meet required deadlines to acquire land for a new grocery store in a neighborhood like Smoketown or Russell.

Another request for proposal will go out in the coming weeks, city leaders said, while LACE and LCG claimed Metro Government "undermined" them.

Black Market KY founder Shauntrice Martin and Sponsor 4 Success founder Butch Mosby have partnered to launch a farmers market in Louisville's West End at Joe's Palm Room on March 5.
Black Market KY founder Shauntrice Martin and Sponsor 4 Success founder Butch Mosby have partnered to launch a farmers market in Louisville's West End at Joe's Palm Room on March 5.

In any case, Martin said "that $3.5 million is a drop in the bucket compared to what we need."

The West End has two Kroger locations — one at 27th Street and West Broadway and the other at 35th and Bank streets — but some advocates say that does not mean the city's lower-income, majority-Black neighborhoods have enough fresh food options.

The wealthier, whiter East End, in the meantime, has continued to welcome more national grocery chains as that area of the city continues to grow in population.

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For the upcoming farmers market, the vendors, some of whom are from the West End, will sell seasonal veggies, organic eggs (courtesy of Phonograph Farms, run by ex-NFL player George Wilson from Paducah) and nut butter (courtesy of Wells Made Co.), according to Martin, with meat options potentially arriving as well.

Black Market KY will also sell its produce, most of which comes from Lexington-based Black Soil Kentucky, added Martin, who also finds time amid her many food-related pursuits to support professionals through her Lnee Research & Development firm.

Play Cousins Collective will set up a children's zone at the market to help kids learn about nutritious food as their parents' shop, and Humana will have a wellness table, according to Martin, who said the weather will dictate if any vendors set up outside.

To serve all shoppers, Martin said she would like to see the market accept EBT payments down the line too.

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"We really want to focus on local farmers with healthy food. It’s been said the West End is a terrible place to find fresh food most days," Martin said. "... We really want to invest in as many small businesses as possible (and) a bunch of local farmers too, because the idea is hopefully to do this periodically, whether it's once a month or once a week.

"There has not been a long-standing farmers market in the West End."

Past attempts at farmers markets in the West End did not always succeed over time, Martin said, with inventory issues and higher prices due to sourcing from farther-away suppliers a few of the roadblocks she mentioned.

So the upcoming market will serve "as sort of a test," Martin said, mentioning her past experience in Silicon Valley as why "I always do pilots first."

Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville's West End farmers market coming March 5 to Joe's Palm Room