When the Central District Red Apple closed this month as Vulcan readies plans to redevelop the store’s corner of 23rd and Jackson, residents of the CD lost a community resource and one of the only big grocery markets in the area. Lottie Cross, the director of Clean Greens, a nonprofit market stand and CSA, and 55-year resident of the Central District, came to the rescue. Providing no-pesticide, herbicide-free collard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet corn, and many other vegetables, Clean Greens is filling a small part of the big hole left by Red Apple’s closure.
“They (Vulcan) came to me,” Cross tells CHS. “Last Saturday was our first day in the new location — we sold way more than usual. At least 50 people stopped by and almost bought us out.”
Formerly located at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturdays, the Clean Green market stand now pops up across the parking lot from the old Red Apple, near the Walgreens. According to Cross, Vulcan partnered with Clean Greens to provide access to healthy food “for as long as possible.” It’s up to the weather to decide how long the stand is there, but Cross expects to have a presence through December, and maybe after.
Cross tells CHS that any leftover vegetables go to Operation Sack Lunch, a nonprofit that provides free vegetarian meals throughout Seattle. Vulcan supplies a tent, and funding for one person to run the market stand, but other than that, it’s a purely volunteer organization. The purchase of seeds, the lease, and payment for their farm manager, Tommie Willis, comes from money raised through the CSA program, which runs from July to October.
“We started with 22 acres, but are now down to just 2, as that provides us all we need for the year.” Cross said. Volunteers are a big part of what keeps the farm going. They head out to Duvall three times a week to harvest produce, relying on organizations who need volunteer hours, like UPS, to bring out crews to help with bigger projects like planting, or renovating the greenhouse, which is the plan for this weekend. This summer, the Seattle Parks Department partnered with Clean Greens and brought out teenagers from Seattle’s South Park neighborhood to help on the farm. “They were great. They really helped us a lot,” Cross said.
Clean Greens is always looking for volunteers, for the market stand and for the farm. You can find more information about volunteer opportunities at their website and click the “Support” tab.
“I like this. I came from a sharecropper farm in Louisiana, so it’s nice being able to go out to our farm and do what I want, when I want. We enjoy what we’re doing,” Cross tells CHS. “We love to serve the community.”
You can find the Clean Greens market stands on Wednesdays and Friday between 11 AM and 3 PM on 9th Ave outside Harborview and, now, on Saturdays outside the Walgreens at 23rd and Jackson, also from 11 AM to 3 PM. Learn more at cleangreensfarm.net.