The Sustainability Village Market is a partner and regular vendor at the Rosa Parks Farmers Market. They were among the first vendors when the market opened back in 2016 in the Health Department parking lot. The Sustainability Village Market (SV Market) is an initiative of Johnson C. Smith University that integrates academic coursework, research, service learning, and experiential education through community gardening and aquaponic gardening.
Each Tuesday at the Rosa Parks Farmers Market, the Sustainability Village sales its yields from the on campus gardens. Five Points Historic West End Newsletter caught up with Gusmann Saintil, Head of Farm Operations; Jania Rodriguez, Head of Production; and Mayra Guerrero, an SV Market Worker, to learn more about the work of the Sustainability Village Market and its connection to the Rosa Parks Farmers Market.
Saintil joined the SV Market staff as farm manager after he graduated. “I decided to work with them for the biology and ecology classes.” He continued, “I have my students work with me everyday and we grow everything you see here (at the market).” They sale kale, basil, mint, rosemary, okra, and mixed lettuce. “We always sale out of the mixed lettuce and okra,” explained Saintil with a grin.
Rodriguez, a biology major, works to help get the produce ready for sale days. Rodriguez explained the maintenance and prep process. “During the week we water the plants, put new seeds down for crops ending their harvest life, and check the plants for pest. We harvest throughout the week too.” She continued, “For our lettuce, we grow it in our hydroponic system. We have to harvest it, wash it, and package it before market days.” She is motivated to do the work because she likes promoting healthy eating to the community. The community aspect also motivates Guerrero to work in the garden and prep for market day too. She sees SV Market sale days as a great opportunity to get fresh food to people in the community at a reasonable price.
The motivation that drives the Sustainability Village Market workers makes them a great fit with the Rosa Parks Farmers Market. Every Tuesday from June to September the Rosa Parks Farmers Market is bringing together vendors to provide fresh produce in the Historic West End at reasonable prices. In addition to vending at the Rosa Parks Farmers Market on Tuesdays, the Sustainability Village Market is now politing its own market in the Historic West End on Saturdays–SV Saturday Market.