State of the Re:Union does Miami

By | June 2nd, 2011 | No Comments

We didn’t scrap together a podcast this week (as scheduled), but luckily Al Letson, host of NPR’s State of the Re:Union, stepped in with a nearly-hour-long episode that makes a valiant and vivid attempt at the impossible, to figure Miami out. Here’s the teaser from the show’s website:

Famous for its beaches and clubs, Miami is also the 3rd poorest city in the nation. If you own a store in South Beach, your customers are equally likely to be billionaires or homeless people. And, on top of that, they’re very likely to have started life somewhere else. Miami is an incredibly international city — but not in the way many others are. Here, instead of working towards assimilation and blending with one another, ethnic communities exist as a patchwork, remaining like isolated microcosms of their homeland.

The episode begins in Little Havana and chronicles the area’s ongoing transformation from Ground Zero of the Cuban exile to a tourist-frequented hub for people from all over Latin America. It then heads south, into the heart of Haitian Miami, to discover how the earthquake that devastated Haiti 18 months ago reverberated here. We also hear an ode in the form of a letter, addressed to Miami, written and read by acclaimed Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat. An excerpt:

One of the things I love about you, Miami, is that, in addition to your house wives and basketball wives, your vices and burn notices, you are so full of other stories … You don’t have many secrets. Maybe that’s why novelists and other storytellers love you so much. No one will ever be surprised that you are both dirt poor and filthy rich, and I’m not just talking about money either.

The last half of the episode is spent in Overtown with Marvin Dunn, who tells the history of the “Harlem of the South” and the story of the Roots in the City farmers’ market, which he founded years ago to help feed Overtown residents. From there we hear the story of Leroy Jones, a three-time convict and former dope-needle seller who became the first black non-professional to win Miami’s Merit award and a vital force in the city’s business community.

As with so many Miami nights, the episode ends at the club, with a segment on the Spam Allstars.

It’s an entertaining journey and a good way to spend 51 minutes and 27 seconds, if you’ve got it. You can listen to show on or right here (after the jump). Also, make sure to check out SOTRU’s blog post on the O, Miami poetry festival, which features an impossibly handsome picture, taken by our very own Robby Campbell, of O, Miami founders P. Scott Cunningham and Pete Borrebach and some guy named James Franco.

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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.

Roots in the City Farmers’ Market Opens for Season

By | December 8th, 2010 | 4 Comments
The Curative Powers of Aloe

Students of Troy Community Academy, a conditional release program for juvenile detainees, talk up the curative powers of aloe.

The Roots in the City farmers’ market, on the corner of NW 2nd Avenue and 10th Street in Overtown, opened for the season today. Operated entirely by local farmers, the market offers cheap and healthy produce to a community stuck in the middle of a food desert without a Publix or Winn-Dixie supermarket nearby. It accepts food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars, and actually matches them dollar for dollar up to $20 per day. While the market’s core mission is to give Overtown affordable access to healthy food, its assortment of hard-to-find produce — from callaloo, or Jamaican spinach, to Asian eggplant — also draws foodies from around the city. The market is every Wednesday and Friday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and definitely worth a visit.

Here are a few pics from the opening.

Chef Michael Schwartz and Gerald
Chef Michael Schwartz, of the Design District’s Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, serves up some rosemary chicken salad to Gerald, a Phillis Wheatley Elementary School student who created the dish for the USDA’s “Recipes for Healthy Kids” challenge. Schwartz and fellow chef Michel Nischan (long hair), founder of the Wholesome Wave Foundation, are both partners of the Roots in the City market.

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