Along the 4700 block of Baltimore Avenue, Mariposa Food Cooperative is preparing for a move. The co-op has a long and rich history in the neighborhood. Started in the 1960’s in local residents’ basements, Mariposa first opened its doors in the 500-square-foot storefront at 4726 Baltimore Ave. in 1971. There, the co-op gradually gathered supporters for 40 years.
Today, the co-op serves more than 700 member households and more than 1,000 members.
This growth has prompted the establishment’s leaders to seek a new and larger facility. In 2009, the management “team,” as it put its to denote the collaborative nature of a co-op, was presented with the opportunity to purchase a new 3,000-square-foot location one block away at 4824 Baltimore Ave.
In hopes of boosting awareness of the co-op, the Community Design Collaborative, a design center that offers services to nonprofits, provided the organization with a grant covering a large part of the cost. The rest of the expenses are to be funded by donations and fundraisers.
New Jersey native and manager on duty, Tyneisha Bowens, explained the move was also needed to accommodate more community members.
“We’re on track. The Community Design Collaborative has helped by providing pretty much free labor,” Bowens said.
To make the co-op more accessible, they will now accept cash, a payment method formerly not offered in order to avoid potential robbery. They will also be more open both in actual space and hours of operation. The narrow storefront at 4726 Baltimore Ave. will be replaced by an open floor plan at 4824 Baltimore Ave. accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. In addition, the co-op will carry a larger variety of foods, including items such as organic meat. With an expected opening of Sept. 1, 2011, the co-op will now be accessible to the general public in addition to paying members.
The co-op’s long-standing reputation as a forum for community meetings will carry over to the new location which formerly housed a church. It will contain multiple rooms for community meetings, and outreach programs. Most notable of these groups are the Urban Nutrition Initiative and Food Justice Anti Racism Committee, which educate the community on safe and fair food practices.
Anyone interested in helping Mariposa, please message Leah Pillsbury at Leah@mariposa.com.