Food

Market Share

Battling a food desert

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Sometimes, a boarded-up grocery store is a sign that renovations are being made inside and better things are yet to come. But in the case of the Park Manor Albertsons on the corner of Northwest and Maplewood avenues, the shutdown has instead become a symbol of corporate greed.

Since Albertsons closed its doors in May of 2016, the Birchwood neighborhood has been without a major grocer, meaning residents of the “Wood Hood” who don’t own vehicles must walk long distances purchase their food staples.

And although Albertsons has sold the 41,000-square-foot-space since shuttering, a noncompete clause in effect until 2047 means the building can’t be used as a grocery store.

Enter the Birchwood Food Desert Fighters, a group of neighbors and allies working to address the issue at hand.

“We work to raise awareness of food desert issues in our community, to pressure Albertsons to allow release its noncompete clause, and to promote greater food access and a sense of community by organizing Food and GardenShare networks, RideShare networks, and working together for a sustainable, culturally appropriate community-based solution for the old Albertsons space,” the group says on its Facebook page. “We want local businesses and all of our neighbors to thrive.”

The Food Desert Fighters have had successes—especially in the summer months. A Little Free Food box at 2833 Birchwood Avenue is regularly restocked by neighbors sharing their garden produce, and a Share Spot runs from 12-12pm Saturdays at the bus stop in front of the ICU on Northwest Avenue.

Additionally, from 10am-2pm every Sunday, the neighborhood’s City Sprouts Farm is addressing issues of food access by running the Birchwood Community Farm Stand, a mini-farmers market selling affordably priced local vegetables and more at the Park Manor Shopping Center (EBT cards are welcome). 

June’s inaugural Birchwood International Market also proved that residents are eager to support the neighborhood. Hosted by Sustainable Connections, the event taking place on the last Friday of the month through September celebrates the cultural diversity of Birchwood, Bellingham, and the Pacific Northwest through an array of food selections, small-scale performances, art and more.

Held in the parking lot of the abandoned Albertsons, organizers say the first market on June 29 drew nearly 1,000 residents who danced, purchased local produce and food truck selections, perused an array of booths and showed their love for those living and working in the Birchwood neighborhood. They’re hoping to recreate the success at the second soiree Fri., July 27.

“We can’t wait to see what the rest of the markets bring,” program director Rose Lathrop says. “We hope that they help spark a vibrant cultural retail district for the neighborhood, increase food security, and strengthen Birchwood’s sense of place.”

More Food...
SeaFeast
An edible exploration

“Are you as excited for the next SeaFest as I am?” my first mate queried recently.

“For the record, it’s called SeaFeast,” I replied, reminding him that I’d had to make the same correction numerous times during last year’s festivities, when we spent a sunny September afternoon at Squalicum…

more »
SkillShare
A DIY smorgasbord

I’m proud of the year’s supply of garden-grown garlic bulbs hanging in our shed and the servings of beefsteak tomato sauce stacked in the freezer, but if the apocalypse ever came knocking, our household would still be sorely lacking when it came to storing up supplies for long-term…

more »
Field Fare
The dog days of corn

Sugar is increasingly viewed by the public to be toxic in amounts that most Americans regularly consume, and many people are making efforts to curb their intake. But even as we shun junk food and other sources of sweetness, sugary snacks that are whole plant parts, like fruit and real baby…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Brunch on the Bay

10:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Banned Books Week

10:30am

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Brunch and Learn

11:00am|Ciao Thyme

Your Vote Counts! Block Party

12:00pm|Depot Market Square

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

South Side Stories

2:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Waiting for the Whales

4:00pm|Village Books

Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Moon Walk

6:30pm

Trove Web
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week

10:30am

Baker Lake Cleanup Signup Deadline

8:00am|Baker Lake

Wheelchair Gangball

3:30pm|Bloedel Donovan

Monday Night Pizza

5:30pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Books on Tap

6:30pm|El Agave 2

Open Mic Night

7:00pm|Village Books

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tuesday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week

10:30am

Rainbow Reads Book Club

3:00pm| Ferndale Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Seabird Struggles

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Beginning Square Dance Lessons

7:00pm|Ten Mile Grange

Warlbers and Woodpeckers

7:00pm|Village Books

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|Shakedown

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web