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New farmers' market seeks to provide solution to East Waco food desert

East Waco Farmers' Market
Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 19:49:26-04

WACO, TX — A new, twice-weekly farmers' market is seeking to bring fresh, healthy options to a community with few grocery options.

The East Waco Farmers' Market started about a month ago, spearheaded by the Waco chapter of the National Women in Agriculture Association. On Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., the organization and its vendors set up in a lot on the corner of Elm Ave. and Dallas St.

At Friday's market, fresh produce, plants and artwork lined the tables for vendors like Victory Oasis Farm & Ranch, owned by Cynthia Lyons.

"This area is considered a food desert. So there isn't any options, any stores, for a local resident to go and buy fresh produce, fresh food," Lyons said.

A "food desert" is a community with little to no access to supermarkets. The USDA defines a food desert as a community that has a poverty rate higher than 20 percent and in which at least 33 percent of the community lives more than one mile from a supermarket or grocery store.

"Most people can point out a problem. And so you sound like something special when you can identify a problem," said East Waco resident James McCoy. "You're special when you can solve it. This is a solution."

McCoy was excited to stop by the market on Friday morning in a community he's lived in for 72 years.

"This gives me an opportunity to, and my community, to have something other than potato chips and wings and hamburgers. Some real food. To sustain us!" McCoy said.

While several people stopped by to shop at the East Waco Farmers' Market on Friday morning, they hope more community members begin taking advantage of having a place to shop for fresh produce in East Waco.

"I would encourage everyone to come out, come meet and greet, and we can let you know everything that we're going to be doing here in this community to help this community to grow and expand and to learn about fresh food," Lyons said.

The market hopes to open on Saturdays as well in the coming weeks. In the future, organizers want to host classes to teach people gardening and farming techniques that they can use to grow their own food at home.