Bringing Hope and Community to the Austin Neighborhood
Austin Harvest grew out of a desire for youth to lead the way for positive community change. In the summer of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis and social justice movement, By The Hand Club youth gathered in healing circles with local police and athletes to process injustice and violence and brainstorm how to create change in their community. Recognizing their neighborhood had substantially more liquor stores than grocery stores, students identified an opportunity to bring fresh produce to local residents.
In less than two months, Austin Harvest opened on the site of a looted liquor store, transforming the far west side neighborhood and bringing fresh produce, entrepreneurship development, and hope to the community. The mission-driven market is entirely student-led, with 15 student entrepreneurs responsible for all aspects of operations including planning, staffing, ordering and inventory management. All revenue generated at the fresh market is invested back into its operations and student stipends.
Austin Harvest fills a significant need in a widely recognized food desert. Originally intended as a single-season pop-up, students were determined to make it a long-term food solution when demand for produce kept the pop-up open well beyond its scheduled closing date in 2020.
Austin Harvest’s permanent building will feature many of the elements of the pop-up market, including the staple orange shipping container and a welcoming patio space to anchor the community. State-of-the-art refrigeration units will enable the students to offer a broader selection of produce while supporting emergency food distribution efforts in partnership with other community nonprofits.