Downtown South Bend has been defying the trend of becoming an urban food desert with the help of The South Bend Farmer’s Market, and its newest ally, the Purple Porch Co-Op.
The South Bend Farmer’s Market has been bringing fresh food into the city since 1911, where it was set up on the Colfax Bridge. The informal bridge location had done so well that “there were often more than 100 sellers and thousands of buyers on a single day.” By 1923, the market had become so popular that a new location was established on South Fellows Street, and then later moved to its current location on Northside Boulevard in 1928.
For over one hundred years, local farmers and sellers have been bringing fresh food from all around Michiana, like blueberries from Berrien County, chickens from Fulton County, and helping keep a healthy harvest of lettuce right here in town…and by lettuce, I mean money.
As Brian Halweil states, “money spent on local produce at farmers’ markets, at locally owned shops, or on locally produced foods stays in the community longer, creating jobs, raising incomes, and supporting farmers. Developing nations that emphasize greater food self-reliance can thereby retain precious foreign exchange and avoid the whims of international markets.”
This is one of the focuses of the Purple Porch Co-Op in addition to bringing healthy, organic, food to the community. The Co-op is supported by customers, but those same customers can buy in, and become “member-owners.” By doing so, your money goes into the business to help sustain this local food provider, helps food producer, and offers you as a customer rebates, discounts, and a voice within the business on what member-owners want to see the co-op accomplish in the future. In addition to these benefits, it shows the Michiana area, the state, and the country, that South Bend is committed to fresh, sustainable, and healthy food systems.
A great feature of the co-op is online ordering. For those people who may not be able to do their shopping during the SB Farmer’s Market hours or PP Co-op hours, they can order food online from the Purple Porch and pick up at their location in downtown.
Between these two businesses and the patronage to keep them going for 100 more years, Michiana communities will become physically and financially stronger.