Rid-All Green Partnership tapped to run Farmer Jones Market in Maple Heights

By Hannah Miao

Photo courtesy of Rid-All Green Partnership

Maple Heights’ Farmer Jones Indoor Market will be reopening on August 1st under a new operator, Rid-All Green Partnership. The new ownership will help ensure that area residents continue to have access to healthy, high-quality food. 

The economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the market in May. Prior to its closing, Farmer Jones Market had provided crucial fresh produce to Maple Heights for over 60 years. 

After hearing concern from the community, Mayor Annette M. Blackwell approached local attorney and investor George T. Simon, who also serves as the city’s Magistrate. Simon purchased the market and Mayor Blackwell invited Rid-All to assume operations. 

Rid-All Green Partnership is a non-profit in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood, where the founders transformed a former illegal dumping site into a 15-acre agriculture campus. Their mission is to grow nutritious food for local residents while training adults and youth on environmental sustainability, urban farming and wellness. 

The Partnership had been working to develop a similar urban farm in Maple Heights when Mayor Blackwell asked them to take over the market. For Rid-All, the decision was simple. “Who are we to deny a request when it comes to the health and well-being of our community?” says Marc S. White, the operations manager and a founding partner of Rid-All.

In a press release from the City of Maple Heights, Mayor Blackwell said, “The city is overjoyed that George Simon and Rid-All Green Partnership are partnering to keep the market operating and offering our residents fresh produce all year round. Access to fresh produce is vital to a healthy and thriving community.”

Most of Maple Heights is considered a food desert, defined by the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission as a low-income area more than 0.5 miles away from a supermarket. Without Farmer Jones Market, residents in the area would have been left without accessible healthy food options. 

Food deserts, combined with poverty and systemic racism, contribute to disparate health outcomes in cities like Maple Heights. A 2016 study found that the life expectancy in Maple Heights is 75 years, while residents of Lyndhurst are expected to live 82 years, although the two communities are just 11 miles apart.

For a decade, Rid-All has been modeling how to alleviate food deserts and promote health in urban communities. With Farmer Jones Market and the forthcoming urban farm, White says Rid-All will be growing their “campaign on wellness” in Maple Heights.

While Rid-All will continue working with many of the market’s former suppliers, they’ll also bring their own products. Their signature farm-grown items include bluegill and tilapia from their aquaponics fishery, honey, kale and of course, collard greens. “We’re the collard greens kings of Cleveland,” says White. True to their educational nature, Rid-All also plans to host wellness classes and cooking workshops at the market.

After a successful soft opening on the weekend of July 11th, Rid-All looks forward to serving the Maple Heights community through Farmer Jones Market. “We’re continually grateful for the opportunity to do this work,” says White. “It’s one thing to impose ourselves, but to be invited is a blessing. We really don’t want to let you down.”

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