From Evansville Living’s Dining Directory, one would think there are plenty of food options in the River City. But, in some neighborhoods, food deserts are created when there isn’t a local grocery store and the majority of residents walk or bike instead of driving. The parishioners at All Saints Catholic Parish (St. Anthony campus, 704 N. First Ave.) are addressing these food deserts one vegetable at a time.
When the Evansville Farmer’s Market lost its location behind the old Greyhound Bus Station three years ago, Deavron Farmer and his peers saw an opportunity to serve their neighborhood with a similar project. Since then, the parish has partnered with Seton Harvest — a community-supported agriculture farm run by the Daughters of Charity— to offer a free, monthly produce giveaway.
“It was so rewarding to see folks — they’re just so happy that somebody actually brought some fresh tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and peppers,” says Farmer, the project coordinator.
The event features the Seton Harvest produce van filled with organic, pesticide-free vegetables and has expanded to a community gathering. The parish band performs and the wellness committee passes out drinks and recipes and even secured a grant through Welborn Baptist Foundation’s Upgrade to purchase reusable produce bags.
While this year’s giveaway doesn’t kick off until late summer, Farmer says the effort begins as early as May when volunteers plant free starters in their gardens to harvest extra produce for the giveaway.
“I think it just showed the neighborhood in general that somebody cares enough to stand out here and give away vegetables,” says Farmer. “We try to make a little community event out of it, and there’s a bit of an educational aspect to it as well.”
The first giveaway of 2021 will be July 18, with subsequent events in August, September, and October and additional dates at Mount Olive Galilee Baptist Church (825 Line St.) in August and October.
“At the end of the day, I don’t know if we change someone’s life with a tomato, but it was a way to get some community involvement,” says Farmer. “Everybody gets so busy in their lives and kind of tends to forget our neighbors and our friends in the neighborhood, and this was a way to make that connection.”