In the Pinehurst neighborhood, located in sunny Columbia, South Carolina, I founded the Pinehurst Farmers Market almost two years ago because I saw that the two grocery stores within walking distance closed suddenly, at the same time. It was then that I realized that a food apartheid area had been created in my neighborhood.
I was inspired by legendary farmer Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm, located in Upstate New York, at a Black Urban Garden Society (BUGS) conference in Atlanta, Georgia to be the change I was looking for in the Pinehurst Community. “If you are looking for someone to save you, no one is coming. You will have to save yourself.”
Those words were my call to action to create a solution to the issue of food access in the Pinehurst neighborhood. The vision was created to form a self-reliant, self -sustainable plan of action that would create healthy, organic food options for the community that would support the local economy and give residents access to food sovereignty.
The Pinehurst Farmers Market was founded in order to create an equitable, fair space for farmers and the Pinehurst community. It’s committed to food justice and food sovereignty, and creating a spirit of self reliance, and community action. The market allows the farmers to use their organic, regenerative growing methods, and shared cultural experiences, with shared solidarity to create food access and life-giving food for members of the Pinehurst community and residents throughout the City of Columbia.
As an advocate for the Pinehurst neighborhood and food security, I support land protection efforts in South Carolina, like the goal of “Thirty by Thirty” to protect 30% of our land and water resources by 2030.
South Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the United States and in the Southeast and as a result, we lose about 35 acres of farmland per day to urban development. The impacts to our local farmers is tremendous and compounded by climate change; disrupting food availability, reducing access to food, and affecting food quality.
I know the value and importance of our local farmers having access to the rich South Carolina soil and now, more than ever, we need to focus on protecting the things that are essential to the well-being and health of our communities. Nature gives us clean drinking water, clean air, healthy food supplies, natural places where we can get outside, and the biodiversity that protects us from disease and that is the source of so many cures in medicine.
Our food is our wealth, and we need to protect the farmers and their access to land. This National Farmer’s Day (Oct. 12th), join me in supporting our local farmers markets and calling on state and federal lawmakers to protect our invaluable resources by making this “Thirty by Thirty” goal a reality.
Please also consider supporting the Pinehurst Farmers Market by purchasing one of our t-shirts. Shirts are available at the market every Wednesday from 1:30 to 3pm, located at 2600 block of School House Rd in Columbia, SC or through our Facebook page @PinehurstFarmersMarket. T-shirts are $20 and benefit the Pinehurst Community Action which supports food justice in the Pinehurst neighborhood. We are always accepting donations to continue the work that we are doing in the food justice movement and welcome groups and companies to reach out regarding partnership opportunities.
- April Jones , Guest Blogger
P.S. - To learn more about the Pinehurst Farmers Market and food justice in South Carolina, check out Episode 22 of the SC Conservation Coalition’s Public Concern Podcast!