Collectively owned grocery stores pop up in places like Jamaica Plain and Cambridge, where liberal-leaning residents make strong connections between their politics and their kitchen provisions. But what are the start-up and survival chances for a food co-op in the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester, where incomes are low, safety concerns are high, and people care more about the cost of a basket of food than whether it can be traced back to the source of a local farm?
This week, the Globe published a five-part series on the 68-block, Bowdoin-Geneva area, much of it focused on families unhinged by violence. But the reporters revealed a lot more about this neighborhood than its punishing streets and foreclosed homes. It was a story of renewal, symbolized by the growth of a community garden on Coleman Street.
Now Jhana Senxian, the garden’s chief tender, and other neighborhood leaders are directing their energies into the creation of a Dorchester food cooperative. It’s speculative. About a third of all new businesses fail in the first couple of years. Supermarkets present additional challenges in low-income neighborhoods, including the higher costs of fresh food and potential for low sales volume. It’s one thing for organizers to promote “a dynamic center for healthy eating and sustainable living that reflects the unique strengths and cultures of Dorchester.’’ It’s another thing to do it on the tiny profit margins typical of grocery stores.
Still, Dorchester residents and those beyond should consider a one-time investment of $100 to become member-owners of the Dorchester Community Food Co-op. Fresh food shouldn’t be the exclusive domain of the economic elite. This is the right time and place to spread the nutritional wealth.
Project manger Jenny Silverman, board member Senxian, and other backers are taking a business-like approach, including the commissioning of independent financial and site feasibility studies. Their passion is grounded in good planning. For more than a year, organizers have nurtured an appreciation for healthy eating in the community, first through a winter farmer’s market and later at a series of “Fresh Fridays’’ communal suppers where residents dined, enjoyed local entertainment, and swapped recipes for traditional dishes from Cape Verde, Haiti, and Vietnam.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week