Arch Street resident Patra Wilkins was excited at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Harvest Park Thursday because having the new food hub in her neighborhood means she no longer has to wait for a ride to the grocery store.
She was one in a crowd of residents who attended the event.
Harvest Park, the new home of the Hub City Farmers’ Market, a new B-Cycle station (with food baskets attached to the front of the bicycles), the Monarch Cafe and fresh food store, and the Butterfly Foundation, is only a 10-minute walk for Wilkins. After the ceremonies Thursday, she retrieved fresh, local beef, pork chops, two potatoes and an onion in the fresh food store in the Monarch Cafe.
“I love it,” Wilkins said. “This is a long time coming. I can just pick up my groceries and the few things I need here.”
Wilkins and others who live on the Northside have awaited the opening of Harvest Park even before the groundbreaking ceremonies were held in January. The community is considered a food desert, since a convenience store is the only place for food in the area.
For many, Harvest Park’s opening represents more than an option for fresh food and produce. It represents the new Northside — an area historically known for high-crime and low income that the city of Spartanburg and the Northside Development group, in partnership with Northside residents, have targeted for redevelopment.
Northside Development Corp. Chairman Bill Barnet urged those who attended the ribbon cutting to share the vision of a new Northside, one where the area is a positive place to work, play, have jobs and enjoy life and will be a neighborhood of choice for years to come.
Northside Project Manager Curt McPhail told the crowd a vision for Harvest Park started in 2008 when a group gathered at Cleveland Park and residents wanted access to healthy fruits and vegetables. One resident said an ice cream truck had no problem getting to the neighborhood and selling ice cream, so the idea for a mobile food market emerged.
From there, McPhail said people wanted a place where the entire community could shop, eat and fellowship.
Butterfly Foundation Founder and President Liberty Canzater said Thursday’s ribbon cutting was a long time coming with construction delays, but she thanked God for a place where people could come eat, enjoy one another and get access to job training and other community services.
The Butterfly Foundation will have its offices on site, along with a commercial kitchen for Butterfly Foundation chefs to use when cooking food for the Monarch Cafe. Denny’s donated kitchen equipment for the commercial kitchen and several tables and chairs for the cafe. The Butterfly Foundation offers several programs, including a 12-week culinary job training program facilitated by local professional chefs. Canzater said the most recent class will graduate Friday and is the second class to have all of its students employed upon graduation.
Mayor Junie White thanked Canzater for her community work and said Harvest Park is key to the overall mission of the Northside Initiative.
Harvest Park will hold grand opening ceremonies from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, on site at 498 Howard St. Guests will be able to tour the facility with cooking demonstrations from Chef Daniel Thomas.
Monarch Cafe will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The cafe will offer quick take foods for breakfast and for lunch, paninis, salmon, barbecue ribs and baked and fried chicken with sides, among other offerings.
Prices will range from about $6 for quiche and a side for breakfast to $4.95 to $10.95 for lunch, depending on the entree and number of sides. Monarch Cafe will accept cash, debit cards, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and (Wofford College) Terrier Bucks.
The $1.8 million project is financed through a $545,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; $350,000 from the S.C. Community Loan Fund; a $200,000 Mary Black Foundation grant; $150,000 each from the city of Spartanburg, Northside Development Corp. and Duke Energy; $88,000 from the S.C. Association of Community Development Corp., $40,000 from the Spartanburg County Foundation; and $25,000 from Women Giving for Spartanburg.The JM Smith Foundation has committed $100,000 over a four-year period to support the project.
The Mary Black Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Butterfly Foundation for culinary classes in a commercial, state-approved kitchen.