By Eric Heinz
It’s been more than half a century since there was a fully functioning grocery store in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, but a cooperative business is looking to change that.
Noir Market is planned to be located in the Tepeyac Community Health Center’s new building at 48th Avenue and Vine Street.
“It’s going to be a producer and a member co-op,” Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca said. “It’s more complicated than your traditional co-op because we want both the people who are growing food to benefit in the shared space and the ability to share profits or exclusively capture their own profits, but we also want the members to capture benefits.”
According to a flier from the East Denver Food Sovereignty Initiative, which will manage the space where Noir Market will operate, products will be sourced locally from “socially disadvantaged” farmers and producers, which will then be used by community-based food businesses and processed in the commissary kitchen space. East Denver Food Hub will manage the recruitment of vendors.
CdeBaca said the lack of a full grocery store created a food desert in the area, which causes people to either travel longer distances for fresh food or resort to less healthy products.
“We had a community stakeholder group that we put together to address those challenges and to just discuss the food system breakdown during COVID-19,” she said. “There was the realization that no entity was completely sustainable, especially in the face of challenges with COVID, so that is how this idea was born on how we create something that is more sustainable for the long run.”
The co-op is intended to lower prices of food by cutting out distributors from larger farms that are farther out and could raise the cost of goods.
The EDFSI and distributors secured a five-year lease at 2111 E. 48th Ave. for 3,300 square feet of commercial space, according to CdeBaca, which will feature a “culturally relevant” marketplace with local food entrepreneurs and a commissary kitchen.
“The co-op model for the market means that food producers and workers will be equal owners of the enterprise and will have decision-making power in various aspects of the business,” she said.
Noir Market hosts pop-up markets every other Saturday, and the new building is expected to be ready by the end of the year.