City yanks Roots in the City farmers’ market

By | March 30th, 2011 | 10 Comments

City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado (center) soaked up the good will at the Roots in the City ribbon-cutting ceremony. Where is he now?

Back in December, I wrote about the launch of the Roots in the City farmers’ market in Overtown. Run by local farmers and backed by Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, the market offered cheap, healthy produce to a community marooned in the middle of a food desert. (It also offered the sight of ubercute goat, Marguerite.)

I’m writing in the past tense today because the City of Miami, in its boundless stupidity, has reportedly forced the market out of business. Quoth the New Times:

[A] citation was issued to South Florida Smart Growth Land Trust, the owner of the land on the corner of N.W. Second Avenue and 10th Street where the market operates, for “illegal sale of fruits and merchandise from open stands and vacant lots” and for “failure to obtain a Class I special permit.”

This is not the first market the city has shut down. Last month, it shut down the Liberty City Farmers Market at the Belafonte Tacolcy Center for not having proper permits. The market was forced to relocate a few blocks away to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, which is on county land.

The permit farmers markets need to obtain is the same type of permit the city said food trucks needed to hold their round-ups. Obtaining the permit costs $153.50 per event and organizations can only apply for two a year.

$153.50! The market probably didn’t net much more than that on an average day, especially since it accepted food stamps and even doubled their value. That fact alone should hammer home that the Roots in the City market was a sincere initiative meant to give a poor neighborhood access to healthful ingredients its residents can’t get in any other (remotely convenient) way. That the city would shut it down over a legal technicality is condemnable and further proof that Miami remains woefully far from joining the ranks of the world’s great cities, all of which accommodate, cultivate, and celebrate outdoor markets. Not Miami though. No, Miami brings down the hammer just a month before the market was to close for the season.

Supporters of the market scheduled a protest on the corner of N.W. Second Avenue and 10th Street in Overtown today at noon. Join ‘em if you can. Give a cheer if you pass by. All they want to do is feed people.