Baltimore has thriving farmer’s markets, and the number of grocery stores are growing. But access to fresh produce remains a challenge in many neighborhoods. This weekend, a pop-up farmer’s market organized by the founders of Tessemae’s aims to spotlight the food desert issue, and provide some veggies in the meantime.
Tessemae’s salad dressing and condiments originated in Annapolis when the Vetter brothers decided their mother’s salad dressing was good enough to sell, and has been growing with spots on Whole Foods’ shelves. Recently, the company got a serious shot in the arm of new capital in the form of a $5 million investment from Kevin and Scott Plank. At the same time, the Vetters have sought to put the issue of food deserts front and center with pop-up market events in Compton and Chicago. They’re calling the initative Crop Circles.
This weekend, there will be a sighting a little closer to home at New Hope Academy (900 Druid Hill Ave.) in Baltimore. The event is on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
For each event, Tessemae’s gives away bags of produce sourced from what Tessemae’s Greg Vetter described as “18 wheelers full of produce” from Renaissance Food Group’s Garden Highway. Live entertainment and activities are also planned. “It’s very community-focused,” Vetter said.
The organizers chose the New Hope Academy site because it is in one of the city’s most parched food deserts, according to a food desert map released by Johns Hopkins. Vetter said Tessemae’s would like to continue to do three Crop Circles events a year, but that depends on sponsors and interest. Anyone who buys Tessemae’s using the company’s e-commerce platform can also donate.
Vetter acknowledges that the events aren’t solutions to the issue, but believes that they can be a strong voice to raise awareness.
“We have the ability to bring all of the people that are fighting that fight every single day together for an event,” he said.
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