Produce for the People

The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation (WHRF) has ramped up its efforts to provide access to affordable produce to residents since the departure of the neighborhood’s Kroger in March 2017.

Community gardens, a mobile farmer’s market, and transportation to and from the grocery store are just a few of the nonprofit’s initiatives, but by the end of next summer, WHRF plans to open the doors to its Peebles Corner Grocery.

The nonprofit is the proud recipient of a $100,000 USA TODAY NETWORK “A Community Thrives” (ACT) grant, funded by The Gannett Foundation, which allows plans for the grocery store to move forward.

“It will have a community area — a coffee machine and soup available — hopefully a small teaching kitchen,” says Elizabeth “Betty” J. Winters Waite, WHRF’s interim executive director and chief financial officer. “We’re hoping to stock it as much as possible with produce grown in the community garden.”

The store will be housed within the former Kroger building on E. McMillan St. in a shared space with other tenants.

In addition to produce from the gardens, the shop will have meat, dairy, eggs, and bread — much of which will be provided by the community.

Giminetti, a local baking company, will partner with WHRF, as will residents with chicken coops who can provide fresh eggs.

“We’re hoping a hydroponics grower will also be located there to provide us with produce as well,” Betty says.

WHRF also hopes to reduce food waste by partnering with local grocery stores in an effort to make produce as affordable as possible for its residents because enhancing quality of life is an integral part of the nonprofit’s mission.

“Walnut Hills has been a diverse community for centuries,” Betty says. “And we’re doing our best to figure out a way to do equitable development and keep the neighbors we have here, while filling in the gaps with new people, keeping it diverse.”

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Brittany York is a college educator, freelance writer, and the event producer for Ohio Civics Essential. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.