• Community and Chilis in Ivanhoe

    Eric Person (Market Manager / Kansas City Aquaponics), Eileen Ellis, (Eileen's Sweet Vegetables), and Francine Nelson ( From Black to Green Thumb) All three are Grown in Ivanhoe Certified.
    Ben and I had been talking about doing a smoked chili salt for a while so when we landed next to Francine, Eileen and their piles of beautiful peppers from the Ivanhoe Farmers' Market at Cultivate KC's Dig In dinner we knew it was perfect. Francine and Eileen are the founding farmers at the Ivanhoe Farmers' Market, which pops up Fridays, 5-7 at 3700 Woodland Ave next to Nutter Park and playground.
    It is an incredibly mission driven market on just about every front. Francine told me she overhauled her life some years back after receiving a stage four lung cancer diagnosis. She left a high stress corporate job and among other things, began sustainable gardening. Today she is cancer free and healthy. She is radiant. In two minutes, she changed my perception of possibilities for a stage four diagnosis.
    The Ivanhoe neighborhood is short on easily accessible grocery stores.  The Ivanhoe market is a well organized community response to that shortage. Francine and Eileen were the first to sell at the the Ivanhoe Market several years ago. Now, the parking lot at 3700 Woodland is filled with vendors. Eileen said this has been the biggest year yet.
     Ivanhoe Farmer's Market features many Grown in Ivanhoe Certified growers. It is comparable to many organic certification programs without the high costs. It also has built-in education on topics including sustainable gardening, nutrition and small business. As Dina Newman, from the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, put it, "Our vendors are "small" growers and I mean they are growing in shared-spaced gardens, front yards, back yards, community gardens, raised beds, vacant lots and small farms.  All are not from the Ivanhoe Neighborhood, as we want to encourage everyone --- all over the city--- to grow and sell.  
    Grown in Ivanhoe continues to find its place in this fresh, local food arena and I couldn't be more thrilled. For us, it's not just about the food, as we are trying to teach the community about food systems, quality of health and agricultural learning and employment opportunities."
    Dina gave me a quick tour of Ivanhoe's first community garden. The Kansas City Master Gardeners helped start it as a demonstration and education garden. There are now nine growers utilizing space on this plot. I learned something new in the short time I was there. Dina pointed to a patch of sweet potatoes, and explained a recent demonstration that introduced how to cook the leaves.  I had assumed that sweet potatoes were nightshades. This is what Ivanhoe is all about. Education, nutrition, cooking and community.
    A few of the growers at the market are Kansas City Black Urban Growers. KCBUGS are actively involved with networking, nutrition, education, food justice and entrepreneurship. They are currently at the tail end of a fundraiser to get to a national conference in Oakland this month to expand leadership and community building skills. One of their goals is to bring the conference to Kansas City in 2017. As Eric pointed out in an interview with EcoRadio KC, Kansas City has some awesome policy and infrastructure in place to support and encourage urban gardening. It is well worth sharing and showing off nationally.  Click here to contribute to the KCBUGS fundraiser.

     The Ivanhoe Smoked Chili Salt is a small release this year and will not be available online. You can find it at the Sundry and at Kansas City Food Circles Holiday Pop Up on November 22nd. We are excited to work with Ivanhoe growers in the 2016. The Ivanhoe Farmers' Market is done for the season but it will be back in action next July. Follow them on Facebook to stay upto date.

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