But even with the success of farmers markets, consumers still lack in access to quality, local food. Farmers markets tend to be seasonal and many urban farmers lack the resources for winter farming and/or self-distribution. This was the assessment of Alison Cross and her brother Alphonzo, owners of The Boxcar Grocer in Castleberry Hill. "We noticed that the neighborhood was kind of a food desert compared to what we were used to after living in San Francisco," Alison says. "We kept thinking that a store would have to open up eventually. It never happened, so we decided to do it ourselves."
The Boxcar Grocer, whose name pays homage to the historic train yards that once existed in Castleberry Hill, is a new kind of community food store that aims to provide neighborhood residents with natural and healthy local food. "Our store isn't meant to be a full-fledged grocery," says Cross, "but it's a place where people can go to get the essentials to get them through the week." Their inventory includes a wide array of local products and natural foods in addition to organic produce, baked goods, and a dairy section.
Not only does the store fill the void left by farmers markets in the winter months, according to their website, it's a store on a mission.
Our goal is to become a model neighborhood resource, a new vision of what a corner store can be. A place that recognizes the health of a nation begins with the health of its individual communities.
Eventually, with community support, we will have a thriving model of convenience store retail that successfully unifies the ideals of the larger environmental and food movements with the needs and voices of diverse urban communities such as Castleberry Hill, Mechanicsville and the West End areas of Atlanta.
Vendor list and more after the jump
The store quietly opened its doors to the community in October 2011. "We've spent our first few months building relationships with local farmers and vendors" says Cross. "It's taken us some time to figure out what products were going to be available and what vendors we could and wanted to work with, but we're finally ready for our official grand opening." The Cross' are planning to hold The Boxcar Grocer's grand opening event on Mon., Jan. 23, 7-10 p.m. to celebrate. The event will include complimentary tastings and musical performance by Atlanta's own BOSCO.
• Truly Living Well Urban Farm
• Metro Atlanta Urban Farm
• Sweet Georgia Grains
• Sparkman's Cream Valley
• Dr. Bronner’s
• Tom's of Maine
• Organix Pet Food
• Savannah Bee
• The Heat Legend
• High Road Craft Ice Cream
• The Pop Shop
• Naturally For You Soaps
• Hope's Gardens Artisanal Pesto
• Zocalo Salsa
• Big Daddy Biscuits
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