Every Saturday afternoon on the North Side, an outdoor market surrounds a tiny park called Mechanics Retreat, at the corner of Buena Vista and Jacksonia streets. The sidewalk fills up with vendors offering homemade bread, fresh veggies and coffee -- the familiar fruits of a farmers' market. But this one, The Twilight Market, is quite different.
What sets Twilight apart is the mission of its organizers, which is to build a year-round market house that sells locally grown products. The Twilight Market is part of the North Side-based Allegheny Market House Cooperative (AMHC), an initiative that seeks to combine both the health and economic benefits of urban-grown food. The group also maintains gardens along the Brighton Road corridor.
"[The cooperative] is an effort to re-identify one of the worst and abandoned neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, and inspire change by providing new jobs, green space and a community-market building to move the neighborhood forward," says AMHC President Brad Spencer.
The planned market's sparse design, using tables, baskets and display cases, will be more intimate than a supermarket, or even an old-style small grocery. There will also be space for socializing, cooking and gardening classes, and performances.
The Twilight Market vendors currently include Mushrooms for Life, Farmers Market on Wheels (vegetables), Dream Thyme Farm (vegetables, goat and lamb meat), Rise Above Bakery, Gosia's Pierogies, and Ben's Breads. There's also Hoi Polloi (freshly squeezed lemonade and/or homemade ice cream), homemade dog biscuits by Laura Winter, Mrs. Beckie's Grow Boxes, Beleza Community Coffeehouse (tea and coffee), Third Day Luxury Soaps, and various crafters from the Pittsburgh Etsy Craft Group.
"We are working on bringing in meats, local wines and prepared foods," says Spencer. Also on calendar are special Twilight Markets for the holidays, with "turkeys and pies, candy makers for Halloween." Christmas trees will be sold in December.
AMHC will begin fund-raising and selling membership equity shares this month.
"Through hell or high water, we will build the market house," says Spencer. "It's just a matter of how painful it will be for our food artisans and volunteers to make this a reality."