Dekalb Market Will Bring Local Entrepreneurs and Farmers to Downtown Brooklyn
There are lots of great markets growing and thriving in Brooklyn these days, and one of the most exciting ones is the coming Dekalb Market, soon to be a home to artisans, farmers, food innovators, and chickens.
I was incredulous as I walked along Flatbush Avenue towards the market site last December. I spent a semester studying at Long Island University (LIU) Brooklyn Campus as an undergraduate, and I could hardly imagine a market, let alone a farm, right across the street. [singlepic id=906 w=320 h=240 float=right]I squeezed through the fence to meet up with Eldon Scott, head of Urban Space NYC, the organization behind the Dekalb Market, as well as the Union Square and Columbus Circle Holiday Markets and the Madison Square Market. As we stood on the empty, frozen site, Eldon shared with me the plans for the market, which, if you look at the image from that day, was a testament to his vision.
Eldon Scott cut his market teeth on Camden Locks, London’s colorful craft, fashion, vintage and food market. His aim for the Dekalb Market is to help increase the market share for local production and entrepreneurs. Brooklyn has proven to be extremely receptive to this idea, not only with this new market but also with the continuing boom in artisan, food and flea markets in the borough. People are interested in buying from and supporting local businesses.
The market will be an incubator for these businesses. For Eldon, the shipping containers are like an artificial reef. The market provides the infrastructure, and the businesses bring it to life. The four founding concepts of the Dekalb Market are:
Entrepreneurship: The market will be a place for people to shop from local businesses, not national chains. These businesses will be able to thrive and grow, making a profit and providing jobs for the community and beyond.
Sustainability: The market concept has to work from a business perspective, and part of that is to “build it quicker, cheaper, and lighter.” Hence building the market from recycled shipping containers, which require less construction resources and which would otherwise end up being discarded. The market will be able to be up and running much quicker than if it required a traditional structure. The containers are actually “found objects,” rather than recycled materials, which means that they can be used in their original form and require no additional energy to be turned into something new. The market is also using salvaged building materials from Build It Green in Astoria. They are getting the other materials from the Green Depot, such as low toxicity paints and other low energy products.
Community: Eldon sees an inherent beauty in the way markets become a community in and of themselves. You have a group of individuals (buyers and sellers) who meet face to face for commerce. People establish personal relationships and come back not just for the products but also for the experience and friendships they form. I wholeheartedly agree, and I have seen the markets in Brooklyn and elsewhere embrace and be embraced by the greater communities around them.
Quality: The Dekalb Market is curated by Urban Space NYC to ensure that the businesses are sustainable and that their products provide the quality and value that their customers want, expect, and need. These businesses tell the story of local production of food and non-food products. Buying local doesn’t have to mean paying super-premium prices.
And what about those chickens? The Dekalb Market will host an incubator farm, featuring 6-7 guest farmers. They will produce and sell food to the community, as well as provide educational experiences around agriculture and food production.
More than half the spaces in the market are already filled with wonderful local businesses, including Robicelli’s Cupcakes (support their efforts on IndieGoGo!), Joe The Art of Coffee, Cuzin’s Dozens Donuts, Harriet’s Alter Ego, and more!
[singlepic id=908 w=320 h=240 float=left]NOTE: The Dekalb Market is holding Not Just a Container – A Contest, one of the most exciting design contests since the High Line Park’s conceptual design competition. The market buildings will be constructed from recycled shipping containers. Contest entrants must submit a design for transforming a shipping container into a design/retail space. The details are on the website, and the deadline for entry is April 9, 2011.
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