Fertile Underground Opens Community Grocery on West Side of Providence

Posted by Soren Sorensen

Fertile Underground, a new community grocery in Providence’s West Broadway Neighborhood, will hold a “Soft-Boiled Opening Celebration” on Friday, January 6. For some residents of this eternally up-and-coming ‘hood, it seemed as if the ground floor at 1577 Westminster Street would remain unoccupied forever.

Across the street from the space’s owner, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA), the “green” and blue three-story construction houses affordable condominium residences on its second and third floors. A grocery store, WBNA Executive Director Kari Lang told New England Post, has been imagined for the first floor since the WBNA purchased the land several years ago.

“It was a slow and steady project.” Lang said. “It was very challenging because as soon as we bought the land, the economy started to go downhill.”

Despite a few hiccups, including a parting of ways with Urban Greens, a Providence buying club currently looking to open a food cooperative in the same area, the WBNA was able to find Michael Giroux and Fertile Underground.

Fertile Underground, Urban Greens and Cranston’s Big Train Farm, a Fertile Underground vendor whose CSA pickup takes place near the new store, all represent the shared interest in a community grocery that features fresh, local food.

According to Lang, the nearest grocery store to the West Broadway area is two miles away. “There are some wonderful bodegas but in terms of a grocery store, there isn’t one so you have to drive outside of the neighborhood.” Citing recent census statistics, Lang pointed out that many residents of the west side do not own automobiles making the two-mile distance more problematic than one might think.

“This is a daily need for everybody,” Michael Giroux told New England Post emphasizing the excitement the market has already generated.

Giroux said that he started wondering where food came from while working at a grocery store in high school. “Why does asparagus have to come from Peru?” he asked rhetorically. “How many roads does it have to travel and in how many trucks?”

For Giroux, core questions of sustainability and support for local growers come from personal pragmatism, not cartoonish clichés of utopian idealism. “Especially with something like asparagus,” he continued. “You can grow it right here.”

Giroux added with a chuckle, “I don’t want to see an end to asparagus. I like asparagus. That means we have to start growing it.”

Giroux, who started Fertile Underground with about a dozen friends as a communal garden in 2009, sees the new store as a logical extension of lessons the group learned growing food together. After the WBNA accepted Fertile Underground’s proposal, Giroux raised over $13,000 on Kickstarter to help build out the space.

“If we want to see an end to factory farming,” Giroux said, “we need to see the beginning of something else.”

According to a press release on the WBNA website, Friday’s all-day event will mark an expansion of “hours and inventory” and “commemorate the completion of a large scale agricultural mural,” designed by Fertile Underground cofounder, Dauna Jean Noble.

Related posts:

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  2. Big Train Farm Might Be Rhode Island’s Favorite Little CSA
  3. RI Mosquitoes Test Negative for West Nile
  4. City of Providence Considering $50K Offer to Startups
  5. See How Boston, Providence and Portland Fared in Travel + Leisure’s Survey of America’s Favorite Cities

Short URL: http://www.newenglandpost.com/?p=8597

Posted by Soren Sorensen on Jan 3 2012. Filed under Health, Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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