Florida farm fights social structure by expanding in food desert


The community breaks ground Thursday at the Clara White Mission’s White Harvest Farms, where they will develop space for a farmer’s market, training center and hub.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Workers at a Jacksonville farm are striving to create better lives for their neighbors, starting from the ground up.

Access to food, especially healthy food, can impact so many other parts of our lives. Parts of Moncrief are considered food deserts where there are not healthy food options nearby. 

On Thursday the community breaks ground at the Clara White Mission’s White Harvest Farms, where they will develop space for a farmer’s market, training center and community hub. It’s expected to impact lives far beyond the plate.

“We want to encourage a local food economy,” said Farm Manager Mallory Schott.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to use the space to sell their produce at the site off Moncrief Road.

“There’s not a grocery store within one mile and on top of that they maybe don’t have transportation,” Schott said.

If you ask Farm Assistant Imani Bidal why this is needed, she thinks “big picture.”

“I lived three blocks away from here,”‘ Bidal said.

Bidal sees the farm’s expansion as the start of a historically Black and low-income neighborhood taking back its identity.

“I feel that purpose,” Bidal said. “I feel that drive and I want other people to feel it too and know that we can all participate together and make this a hub of that where community members can come and we can have discussions about what’s happening in community and discussions about how we can regenerate our unity.”

That starts with planting the seeds for change at the farm.

The groundbreaking for White Harvest Farmers Market and Training Center takes place at 9:30 a.m. at the farm on 4850 Moncrief Road. You can also join virtually. 

Clara White Mission CEO and Councilwoman Ju’Colby Pittman says the project was initiated by Councilman Sam Newby and supported by Mayor Lenny Curry. A $1.5 million grant is being used to develop the land.

You can take classes at the farm now and the farmer’s market is open Saturdays. Learn more here.

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