The first building for the historic Pennsylvania Avenue Market was originally built in 1871. In the 20th Century, the Avenue Market and the surrounding neighborhood thrived as Pennsylvania Avenue became a center of Baltimore culture. When the wooden market burned in 1953, merchants joined together to rebuild it. By the 1990s the Lafayette Market was in need of a makeover, and it closed for renovations in 1994 before reopening in 1996 as the Avenue Market. The market was again renovated in 2012, and pays homage to the rich history it serves as an anchor for.
In 2017, the No Boundaries Coalition mapped every place in 21217 where residents could purchase fresh produce vs. where residents could purchase alcohol. The ratio was 10 to 1. In Sandtown, the ratio was 16 to 0. The Coalition then surveyed over 300 residents on what food they would like in the neighborhood, ultimately receiving an overwhelmingly consistent response: residents want access to low-cost, high-quality fresh produce. To test these results, the Coalition organized a pop-up produce market on Pennsylvania Avenue. The market was so successful that it sold out!
In the days since that first pop-up market, the Coalition has moved into a permanent space in the historic Pennsylvania Avenue Market, now known as the Avenue Market. Every Saturday from 9:30AM to 4:00PM and Wednesdays from 11:00AM to 4:00PM, local residents stop by to purchase fresh produce that is often produced at local Baltimore City farms such as the Whitelock Community Farm and Strength to Love II, each located in the 21217 area code. The program, called Fresh at the Avenue, also serves as an important focal point of workforce development. Residents have an opportunity to gain employment at the food stall where they are paid a fair wage, given public-facing responsibilities, and trained with skills that will make them an attractive member of the workforce for other employers.
The program gets results! In 2019, over $50,000 in produce was sold from the food stall, serving 6,695 total residents, with participation from 50 volunteers contributing approximately 1,000 volunteer hours.
Fresh at the Avenue is open Thursday–Friday 10:00AM–4:00PM and Saturday 9:00AM–4:00PM. You can stop by to find fairly priced, high quality produce such as apples, oranges, bananas, and kale.
Fresh at the Avenue is also recruiting local microbusinesses, particularly those with products that provide a value add to the community, to sell products at the stall. If you or someone you know is interested in collaborating with Fresh at the Avenue to sell your value add products, please contact Reynard Parks at 667-273-0779.