Chene Street Grocers is a small grocery store and diner in the near Eastside of Detroit that will sell hyper-local produce, bulk goods, Detroit prepared foods and body care items with minimal packaging. The owners hope to be open in the summer of this year, funds pending. The business model is designed to support Detroit farmers, makers and distributors, while their business practices will make it possible (they will deliver as well) to obtain food while contributing to the health of the local economy and ecosystem. In addition, they will participate with Snap, WIC, Double Up Food Bucks and a federal program that provides dietary coaching within the store.
They are holding a fundraiser at Antietam on Sunday February 28th, and they need your support! For a $60 donation they will provide a delicious 3 course meal and cocktail. For a $30 donation you receive a plate of delicious filling food and a drink. The food will be prepared by Antietam Chefs. Seatings are at 4:00 and 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at chenestreetgrocers.com, or by calling Antietam. All proceeds go to getting the space up to code so they can open as soon as possible.
The team behind Chene Street Grocers is Vanessa Cronan and Julie Wainwright, the owners of Chene Street Grocers. Cronan is a community leader and has organized performances, exhibitions, collectives along with a major retail store; Wainwright has worked in the grocery food system for several years, in addition to being an educator with Detroit Food Academy where she teaches food education, sustainability and leadership skills local youth. Ben Wolf, an artist and builder is also a co-founder and has helped with everything from fundraising, to renovating and contributing concepts to what the store will become. He is also owner of Ferrous Wolf, which will be responsible for the fabrication of in store fixtures, as well as supplying the store with sustainable home products.
What is Chene Street Grocers’ connection to food?
Food is Nutrition. Yet access to that basic need is limited in certain areas of the city, state, country and world. It is through our individual experiences that we have realized the power of healing and the gift of energy good food can make. It is our goal to establish that opportunity of healing and nourishment to people in our immediate and surrounding neighborhoods in Detroit. Good food comes from good soil!
Why is this important to you personally and the community?
In art and creativity, you occasionally have a really good idea, a visit by the muse some would say. Occasionally, if you don’t realize that concept quickly then someone else manifests it before you. This can feel like a relief because maybe what you really needed was the concept to exist- that’s what happened with this project. Several people felt the need and urgency for something like Chene Street Grocers to exist. It took a year to marinate the vision and now it is time for this vision to be realized.
What is the most exciting part of this development?
Chene Street Grocers is such a great opportunity to be the change you want to see! Additionally, it will be a hub for farmers, gardeners, herbalists, foragers, healers and makers from all walks of life. Having a community hub that is casual and welcoming is going to be such a wondrous and bountiful gift to our daily lives as well as all the customers and contributors.
What partnerships are already established to make this successful?
We will be working with Occupy Yourself Farms, Oakland Street Farms, Ghost Acre Farms and others. We will be getting bulk food items from Cherry Capital Foods, and eggs from Fowl Creek Farms. We hope to sell prepared foods from Avalon, Astro, Rose’s Fine Food, and Sister Pie. We will carry body products from CREAM and more. We welcome suggestions!
Where is the property?
Chene Street Grocers is on the corner of Chene St and Farnsworth St. on the East side of Detroit. Although our neighborhood doesn’t have a definitive name, it is sometimes referred to as Poletown East in reference to the time period before 1985, when it was largely a Polish neighborhood that was connected to Hamtramck. However, in 1985, the GM plant bulldozed 1,400 homes, several churches and 140 businesses, displacing 4,200 residents. This act of eminent domain spiraled Chene St into poverty over the past several decades. Read more here: Wikipedia
Currently, there is an average of 2 homes per block and the closest walkable food sources are a gas station, a liquor store and Coney Island. Despite the hardships that have oppressed this neighborhood, there is a strong neighborhood bond and active community organizers who keep watch of developments in the area.
This is as grassroots as it gets. Please consider supporting if you are aligned with food justice!
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