Farmers market coming to food desert on the Northside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is a practical solution to a difficult problem: Providing fresh, healthy food to people who have none.

A farmers market could provide an oasis to a food desert along Moncrief Road on the Northside of Jacksonville. The project will cost about $800,000 total. White Harvest Farms aims to help bring a service many say is desperately needed in that part of town.

Sebra Lovings says she wants to be able to provide her five-year-old son with something as simple as a nutritious meal.

"It's hard. You can barely find good produce or good anything around here," said Lovings. "You have to walk far to the store. And it costs an arm and a leg."

Lovings said she walks most places and catches the bus when she needs to.

"This area is a food desert community and a lot of the residents are in need of healthy and fresh produce," said Ju'Coby Pittman, CEO and President of the Clara White Mission. She said their goal is to provide families like Lovings' with what many people in other parts of town already have: a farmers market.

"We should be able to have the same things that they have in other communities," said Lovings. "We're all the same."

Pittman said they plan to use an old Head Start building on Moncrief Road as the farmers market site. They've already begun to work on the inside. Besides better access to fresh foods, they'll develop an educational program for kids during the summer months, where they can learn about agriculture.

"We want to take a piece of property that has been closed and has been dormant and bring it back alive," said Pittman. "And so it will become a cornerstone in the community. "

The farm is up and running. It services about 300 to 400 people monthly. Pittman said with a farmers market, they'll be able to have an even greater reach. Farmers could also bring and sell their produce there. By taking part in One Spar, White Harvest Farms hopes to spark more interest and funding for the project. You can vote for White Harvest Farms by texting #20070 to 904-647-2955 or at


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