MIAMI (CBS4) – A peaceful demonstration was held this afternoon at the site of the former Roots in the City Farmers Market in Overtown after the market was shut down last week by Miami’s code enforcement office.

The Roots in the City Farmers Market debuted to national attention in April 2010 as the only wholly local farmer-operated market in Miami and the first urban farmers market in Florida.

Last week however, code enforcement cited the owner of the land, South Florida Smart Growth Land Trust, for “illegal sale of fruits and merchandise from open stands and vacant lots” and for “failure to obtain a Class I special permit.”

The market is located at the corner of NW 2nd Avenue and 10th Street.

“I called the head of Code Enforcement, they never called me back,” said Roots in the City founder Marvin Dunn. “I called the city manager about this last week, he never called me back. I didn’t pick this fight. If I had gotten answers from the city, we wouldn’t be having this demonstration out here.”

The Roots in the City Farmers Market was unique because it offered lower-income consumers the opportunity to eat healthy by using their food stamps to make subsidized purchases. For every $1 in food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars, customers received $2 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The city also shut down the Liberty City Farmers Market at the Belafonte Tacolcy Center last month for not having proper permits. The market was forced to relocate a few blocks away to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, which is on county land.

The city says the farmers market needs to obtain a special permit which costs $153.50 per event and organizations can only apply for two a year.

Community supporters say the city doesn’t have an adequate permitting system to support farmers’ markets, treating them instead as special, one-time events and that’s simply too costly.

But, city officials say the policy is in place and everyone is required to adhere to it.

“To feel as though you are getting picked on to have to comply with what every body else has to do may be unfair to the city,” said City of Miami spokesperson Pat Santangelo.

When The Roots in the City Farmers Market originally opened, it was part of a national movement called “Nourishing Neighborhoods.” It was a pilot market for the non-profit organization, Wholesome Wave Foundation, which has sponsored 160 markets like the one in Overtown in 20 states. It was backed by Miami Dade County’s Human Services Coalition, Roots in the City, and Chef Michael Schwartz of Michaels Genuine Food & Drink.

It reopened for the season in December and would have run until the end of April.

Source: The Miami New-Times contributed to this report.

Comments (10)
  1. Indhira says:

    Leave it to the City of Miami to ruin a good thing for it’s citizens… I guess the poor people can’t ever win one, can they?

    1. GAIN AND AGEIN says:


  2. observerfromupnorth says:

    If you don’t like the laws, then change them by voting. If not then pay what everyone else pays to have a business in Miami. If you you choose to do nothing then so sorry, to bad.

  3. observerfromdownsouth says:

    How do you expect a non-profit org to pay $154 per event selling fruits & vegies on less then an acre of farm land? I have been there, and seen it for myself.

  4. Equity says:

    You are obviously misinformed on how an urban farm operates and the crop yields that are specific to Overtown’s plots. There is more there than mets the eye. I would recommend that you take a closer look at the Wholesome Wave Foundation and their relationship with Roots in the City, you will find that they subsidize the vendors at the weekly Overtown Farmers Market as well as other nonprofit markets around the country so that they are able to sell their fruits and vegetables. Besides, you have completely missed the point that the article tries to draw awareness to. The real problem is that the Farmers Market and the garden are there for the community, so that residents have access to fresh produce that otherwise does not exist in Overtown. The garden supplies jobs to residents, offers career building skills, fosters community cohesiveness and cultivates pride in an often overlooked and underserved neighborhood. I have been there, and seen it for myself.

  5. MangoSmoothie says:

    Sounds like the city’s codes need to be amended to make it more reasonable for a farmer’s market to exist. Even if this particular market were able to come up with the $154 fee, they could hold only two markets a year. What good is that? But the rule is what it is, and it will not change until people make that demand. I hope they do as this market is a great thing.Get and stay on the commissioners, go to the meetings, demand the change.

  6. Rhonda Costello says:

    Monsanto at work !!!!!!!!! if its non gmo, then its got to go. monsanto is evil

  7. Phil Landers says:

    Do I smell Archer Daniel Midland corporation?

  8. SH says:

    …or Herr Kommandant Exposito justifying his job with the Gestapo like raids on everything starting with the vending machines, them the food trucks. Add to that the frequent (every weekend) DUI checkpoints and traffic cameras..this guy is a threat to civil rights. That, or seems he’s just trying to justify his officers jobs and fat pensions..

  9. Sandie Anderson says:

    WOW trust the city of Miami to so something like that so horrible, closing a market downPeople don’t count only money and poilitics !! HOW does the Glaser farms market manage to be there in Coconut Grove every Saturday? and not have this issue?