Drive down Lois Avenue these days and a glimpse of green might catch your eye. In place of decrepit brick and mortar, a vibrant structure stands in open greeting to all who pass. With the Mill Village Market, Mill Village Farms is putting down roots in the Village of West Greenville with their first permanent retail location.
The Mill Village Market exudes freshness—from expansive windows to clean-cut crates teeming with fruits and veggies. And it’s not your typical grocery store produce: most of the market’s green goodies are homegrown on the three Greenville County farms kept and cultivated by Mill Village. “We’re creating a venue to sell products and meet the community with them,” says Kelly Childress, Mill Village Farms’ market director.
On the surface, the market’s mission seems simple: provide locals access to healthy food. The location—the intersection of the Brandon Mill, Woodside, and West Greenville neighborhoods—is considered a food desert, an area where affordable and nutritious food is hard to come by. But dig a little deeper and you’ll unearth a much more extensive plan in the works for this community.
STOCK MARKET // The following produce grown by Mill Village Farms will be available in January: Romaine lettuce, Bibb lettuce, basil, kale, cilantro, parsley, and Tatsoi greens.
Mill Village Farms, an agricultural-based youth development program, is a subset of Mill Community Ministries, a Greenville-grown cooperative including Nasha Lending and the Village Wrench. Guided by executive director Dan Weidenbenner, the group seeks to help communities thrive, whether by ensuring no-interest loans to local entrepreneurs or by teaching job skills to at-risk teenagers. Mill Community Ministries has spent the last three years dreaming of a brick-and-mortar home, a tangible space for the community to connect and interact.
“We hope that this market becomes a hub for the neighborhoods as well as the business community,” says Childress. “We have a community table in here on purpose, a place for people from the neighborhood to come and gather, have a cup of coffee, meet a friend for a conversation—a place to sit and think.”
TURNING TABLES // Kelly Childress, Mill Village Farms’ market director, oversees a brick- and-mortar retail location on Lois Avenue, as well as a mobile market.
Coupled with warm lighting and an exposed brick wall, the community table completes the market’s welcoming interior. White shelves stand ready with an arsenal of basic food options, while a railed staircase leads to of co-work space above. But Mill Community Ministries is hardly finished with Lois Avenue.
The Village Wrench will be next door as well as co-work space for entrepreneurs,” Childress explains about the cooperative’s plans for further construction. “We hope to see the faces of the neighborhood here.”