DC’s Greenline Real Estate LLC Backs Petworth Farmers Market

By Gus Schumacher and Camille Range

DC’s GreenLine Real Estate LLC has found a unique way to attract customers in the District of Columbia’s fast-growing Ward 4. They have set up a vendor’s tent at the popular Petworth Community Farmers Market.

“It’s great for our business,’’ says Hassan Symes, one of the agents that mans the tent. The agents get a chance to meet more potential customers—more than 15,000 came by in 2016 to buy fresh-picked, local fresh fruits and vegetables.

But the GreenLine agents aren’t just drumming up business, but trying to boost the neighborhood too.  They provide all kinds of support at the market, from promotion and outreach efforts to helping manage programs for low-income and elderly shoppers.

Symes said participating in the local farmers market is one way GreenLine believes it can increase community involvement in the greater Petworth community. The real estate firm also donates its new homeowner administrative fees to local community health organizations, including Mary’s Center and Green Door Mental Health Clinic.

Ellen Root, Chief Development Officer at Mary’s Center complimented GreenLine Real Estate as “ a hands-on, community-minded organization who’s donations to Mary’s Center help move the needle in providing comprehensive healthcare, education and social services to the children and families of the Petworth community.” 

The DC metro area is known for its active and innovation collaborations with local farmers, government, non-profit groups, health organizations and residents to operate its 55 farmers markets. For instance, there is a robust VeggieRX prescription program for at risk residents to get a “prescription” from their doctor for free fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market. There’s also an innovative DC Produce Plus program, that provides weekly $10 checks to eligible shoppers to spend at the markets.

The latter program was particularly popular at Petworth last year, with long lines when the market opened for $10 weekly produce checks. In just ten weeks, some 1,600 DC Produce Plus clients used their cards to purchase $16,075 in fresh fruits and vegetables at the Petworth Farmers Market.

Farmers were pleased with the extra income. Petworth customers also invested money from federal nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC, adding some $4,300 to farmers bank accounts.

Farm stand at Petworth Farmers Market. Photo credit: Petworth Farmers Market

Despite sporadic partnerships like GreenLine’s tent, participation from for-profit companies like developers and real-estate agents remains low at area markets.

As the District of Columbia rapidly changes – with construction cranes rising monthly and new developments happening across the city—it is critical to consider how food is included as neighborhoods evolve. It is also imperative that local governments and developers consider how low-income residents fit into that planning.

The Greater Petworth area is one example, as it is growing rapidly due to construction of high-rise condominiums and offices. But there remains limited accessibility to stores providing quality, affordable healthy food options for low-income families.

In Ward 5 and Ward 7, Community Foodworks, a DC non-profit organization (www.cfwdc.org)  has leveraged the interest and funding from local DC Real Estate developers to increase their impact in the community, to serve hundreds of low-income residents making affordable, healthy accessible food available to them.

As farmers prepare for another fruitful season in 2017, neighborhood groups like Petworth Community Market Inc., GreenLine Real Estate LLC, and real estate developers supporting Community Food Works farmers markets are examples other real-estate firms and developers in DC and around the country could emulate in providing access to healthy, affordable local produce in underserved neighborhoods and strengthening community bonds.

Gus Schumacher, Founding Board Chair- Wholesome Wave and Public Member, Board of Directors, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Foundation

Camille Range, Member, Board of Directors, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Foundation