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Nourishing a Food Desert

Tucson’s newest farmers’ market aims to improve food security and literacy in the community.

October 4, 2017

When Chris Ligerman first moved into Tucson’s Amphitheater neighborhood, he said he felt like he was in a “food desert.” The closest place to purchase fresh veggies was at Walmart, which had only opened a few months ago.

Where others might have seen a nutritional wasteland, Ligerman saw potential. Rather than resigning himself to the limited options in his new neighborhood, Ligerman decided to end the drought of fresh produce in his food desert—by establishing a farmers’ market.

“Part of my inspiration for wanting to do this market came from working with food in the sense that there is some cause behind it,” Ligerman said.

Other than its unique location, Ligerman’s market is different from other Tucson markets because of its partnership with Literacy Connects, a local nonprofit committed to increasing literacy among children and adults.

The Amphitheater neighborhood is one of the poorest in Tucson, with a large population of refugees and immigrants, said Rebecca Werner, the manager of data and program projects at Literacy Connects.

“When Chris mentioned having a farmers’ market here, we said ‘Yes of course we want to do that! Why wouldn’t we?’” Werner said.

Ligerman hopes to feature everything from fresh produce to coffee carts to his own Sonoran hot dog stand at the market. He also plans to include learning activities and craft booths for kids.

“[This] neighborhood is under-served in the sense that many of the people who live here would not be able to afford a lot of products that are offered at traditional farmers’ markets,” Ligerman said.

Ligerman plans to involve everyone in the community by including a system that allows people to purchase food with their SNAP or EBT cards.

“Not many people have vehicles [and] there aren’t a lot of grocery stores, so for these people to be able to walk over and purchase fresh produce is a huge thing,” Werner said.

The opening day of the farmers’ market will be held on Sunday, October 29 at 11a.m. in the parking lot of Literacy Connects.

Literacy Connects also plans to be involved in the market, offering literacy-boosting activities for children and adults.

Ligerman’s end goal is to have the market become a destination for people from all over Tucson, not just a shopping experience. You can learn more about the market and receive updates by checking out the farmers’ market’s blog here!

Header image by Steven Meckler. 

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