PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Figgy’s Patch is the first independent farmer’s market to come from an urban agricultural incubator based in Peoria’s Southside, an area that lacks a supermarket.
Budded Mattah is a grassroots organization that aims to provide healthy food sources through community gardens to combat food insecurity, hand-on gardening education, and ultimately, business opportunities for area residents.
The Budded Mattah Urban Agriculture project works with the South Side Mission, local nurseries, and local churches to, “use urban gardening as a means of empowerment and to eliminate the food desert,” according to its website.
The Southside of Peoria does not have any grocery stores and is considered to be a food desert, leaving residents without many healthy options. However, some feel the new community gardens are the first step in creating a more food secure area.
“I love the fact that we’re able to bring something fresh to a community that doesn’t have it. I love the fact that we’re enabling people to learn to grow if they don’t know- that we’re teaching them,” said Amy Figueroa, owner of Figgy’s Patch and Budded Mattah Community Leader.
Figueroa tends four plots in the community garden located outside the South Side Benevolence Center, near the Harrison Homes in Peoria. She has grown so much produce, she has been able to open her own vegetable stand.
“This is what you can do if just a small bunch of people take the initiative to build up a community. Whether it’s to plant a garden, sell lemonade, you know … it’s wonderful. It’s great,” she said.
Figueroa specializes in heirloom tomatoes but carries a wide variety of vegetables, as well as watermelon and herbs. She also sells aprons and other non-perishable items.
When supply allows, Figueroa sets up her market outside her home at 821 NE Madison Street in Peoria. Other members of the group sell their vegetables at the Keller Station farmer’s market on Wednesdays.
Figueroa said they are looking to expand the Budded Mattah program by obtaining vacant lots. They are also raising money to build a fence around the Harrison Garden, which was vandalized in June.