Appleton Community Catalyst group begins mission with free farmers market

Published: Jun. 20, 2020 at 5:44 PM CDT
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A new organization in Appleton is working to make a difference - starting with a free farmer's market.

It's being put on by the Appleton Community Catalyst at Houdini Plaza.

Their goal is to draw attention to racial injustices in the community, and to help those who are impacted.

Beginning at 7 a.m., people were able to donate items to the market, then starting at 3 p.m. those in need were able to come and receive the free groceries.

In total, 327 pounds of produce and 1,181 items were donated to the free farmers market.

"The sheer amount of people that have come out today with truck fulls of food to support our organization is incredible," said co-organizer Isabella DeVine.

DeVine, as well as Ndemazea Fonkem, both of whom graduated high school in 2020, started the organization just months ago.

"Ndemazea and I have both experienced racism since we were very little and so we want to make sure that people in our community are aware that racism does exist in Appleton," said DeVine. "We started this organization to support our fellow Black Americans, but also people of color within our community to make sure they're represented, that they feel seen and heard."

“Issues in racial equality aren’t just police, it goes further and it goes systemic, and it even affects our own community even when we don’t think about it," said Fonkem. "So, one of the things we wanted to do was make sure that our community knew it was seen and heard and that, as allies for other issues, we’re also addressing the ones that face us right here at home.”

DeVine and Fonkem say many low income families in the area are people of color, which is how it ties into their organization, and they want to make sure those families aren't any less able to have fresh produce or great ingredients.

"Especially now with COVID, a lot of families, incomes were disrupted and lives in general. Getting fresh food to those who need it is such an important issue, because everybody deserves to eat," said Fonkem.

Organizers add they're planning many other events and programs moving forward, including more free farmers markets this summer.

They hope to create positive change during this time of unrest.

“When all of this started it was very difficult to stomach, but it’s been so nice to channel my energy into this project," said DeVine. "And, I think both of us feel the same way, it’s so nice to have this supportive group of students around me helping us to create something that’s making a lasting impact.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about Appleton Community Catalyst.