The Dignowity Hill Farmer’s Market opened Sunday morning to a successful day of commerce in San Antonio’s Eastside, further signaling the revitalization of the neighborhood. Dignowity Park, nestled in the heart of the historic district, will continue to host the farmer’s market on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
“There is tons of opportunity here, especially as people start moving back into this neighborhood and restoring these homes. I think that as we start getting people back into the neighborhoods (farmer's markets are) going to be one of the things that they are looking for,” said Councilmember Alan E. Warrick II (D2) while visiting the new District 2 market.
The grand opening drew a crowd of about 50 on Sunday morning, with more throughout the day. Many neighbors walked to the market from their homes with children and dogs in tow. Some even arrived on rented B-cycles.
“This is the kind of thing that helps bring a neighborhood together,” said Mayor Ivy Taylor. “A farmer’s market is a chance for us to support those who grow locally – to support small businesses.”
Warrick said he secured the location for the farmer's market to foster healthy eating habits for the surrounding community.
“We tend to have food deserts in urban areas. The nearest grocery store is half a mile away from here,” Warrick said. “Opportunities for fresh produce are few and far between on this side of town.”
Michelle Herrera, founder of the market, said she started the event to cater to the long-standing neighborhood residents.
“The purpose, or vision, of this market was to offer a community that didn’t have a lot of fresh food options a change, and to let them know that it can be affordable as well,” Herrera said.
Herrera said the market is certified through the Texas Department of Agriculture, so farmers accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, or food stamp credit cards.
Dignowity Hill community member Victor Zuniga came out to the market to mingle with friends and participate in a new event. He said he’s seen progress happening in his neighborhood.
“On the way over here I saw somebody showing a house, so there’s development happening,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Mike Villareal also stopped by Sunday morning.
“There are certain indicators of when an inner-city neighborhood is growing, thriving, and diversifying, and certainly a farmer’s market is one of them. It’s a signal that the producers of the goods recognize a consumer base – a critical mass – of people who want fresh, locally grown food, is present in a neighborhood,” Villarreal said. “I think this a really good sign for the near term and ongoing development of the Eastside.”
*Featured/top image: Raul Cisneros sells a bulk of kale to a customer at the Dignowity Hill Farmer’s Market at 721. Nolan St.