About five miles south of College Park on Route 1, construction of an “Arts District” in Hyattsville is well under way. Guided by years of planning by county officials to develop a Gateway Arts District in the area, a large development by the EYA company is now under construction.
This new development includes 350 rowhomes, at least 100 condominiums. The project includes 13 “live-work” units, which are expected to be habited by mostly local artists who will run businesses on the ground floor with their dwelling units above. In addition to the residential community, new restaurants and retail are expected to find a place as well. Currently on the drafting board for the town is a new Art Gallery bordering Route 1, bike trails, swimming facilities, and fitness center. The Arts District is designed to take advantage of vacant land and closed auto dealerships, long the target of local leaders unhappy with their existence on Route 1. The expectation is that the project will improve conditions along Route 1 in Hyattsville. The Washington Post reported on development in the Arts District in December.
Do not some of these same conditions exist along the Route 1 sector next to campus in College Park? An empty furniture store lies across from Plato’s Diner; an old administration building behind Kinko’s is abandoned. Further North, the condition of Route 1 worsens. However, what exists in Hyattsville that will hopefully be contagious to its neighboring towns along Route 1 is the cooperative excitement of residents and businesses. College Park has potential to integrate its downtown with its community of permanent residents and university students. Hopefully the Arts District to our south will spark positive development in College Park.
The idea of a farmer’s market may seem a bit out of context here with the innumerable quick food restaurants, corporate chains, and densely packed parking lots. Here, students about equal the number of normal, home-cooking, child-feeding residents; and the proximity of local farms distances more than the drive to “Giant”. One the whole, perhaps it seems odd to bring such a wholesome, small-town activity into a rowdy college town.
But in all honesty, wouldn’t it be nice to walk down to CVS on Sunday and pass by a fresh-fruit stand, a flower cart, or a table full of freshly baked pies?
The reality is that Farmer’s Markets are intended for more than Sunday leisure. Many markets across the nation focus on different societal and community needs. The Montgomery Farm Women’s Co-op in Bethesda began during the depression by women trying to bring maintain business for local, small town businesses. The organization FreshFarm Markets also runs a number of farmer’s markets in and around Washington. Oakland, California, an ethnically diverse urban area lacking in pubic transportation has a traveling “People’s Grocery”. This bright red truck travels the city, parking in public school lots, parks, and community centers to make available low-price organic foods, products, and produce to local residence.
There are a number of unexpected places in which Farmer’s Markets have found a home. Madison, WI; Fayetteville, AR; and Denver, CO are a number of college towns who received federal grants for Farmer Markets. In these cases, the market has been used to incorporate minority collaboration within community activities. Opportunities to work at the market, buy fresh produce at a low price, and implement the use of food stamps are a few benefits of the Farmer’s Markets.
(Photo is from the H Street Farmer’s Market in Washington, D.C. by Inked78)