Community market mural a colorful oasis in south Fargo food desert

Catie Miller stands in front of the mural she is painting Wednesday, July 29, at Community Family Market, 602 23rd St. S., Fargo. The mural is supported by a grant through the Arts & Culture Commission to Fargo Cass Public Health to support healthy food options. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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FARGO — The Community Family Market in south Fargo's Jefferson neighborhood is a colorful oasis in the middle of what public health officials describe as one of the Fargo-Moorhead metro's largest food deserts.

The convenience store, which sits on 23rd Street South just a few blocks south of Main Avenue in Fargo in an old gas station, is nearly a mile and half away from the nearest grocery store, or about a half-hour walk.

Fargo Cass Public Health saw an opportunity to help the market provide healthy groceries in the neighborhood through its Neighborhood Market Project. The health agency donated a produce stand and secured a grant to liven the store up with a mural on the north exterior wall of the building, which was unveiled on Wednesday, July 29.

"They've added more frozen vegetables," said Kim Lipetzky, a public health nutritionist. "They have been working to reorganize the shelves and promote the more healthful options ... They took their produce from the way back of the store and moved it to the front, so people know they have onions and plantains and various produce."


Fargo Cass Public Health identified the project as an opportunity to add some public art in the Jefferson neighborhood and applied for a grant from the Arts and Culture Commission, Lipetzky said.

The mural, painted by West Fargo artist Catie Miller, features a collage of foods that members of the community and the owners thought were important to the cultures of the customers of the market. Foods from Latin America, West Africa and East Asia are all painted on the market's outside wall.

"Food is a big part of our identity throughout the world, and in this neighborhood, there are a lot of families from around the world," Miller explained. "We gathered ideas of what kinds of food people think are important to their communities, so we have things like fufu and momo and tamales all represented on the mural."

Miller is primarily a ceramicist but previously painted a series of 12 murals at Fargo City Hall. She said she hopes to continue working on larger-scale community projects.

"There's a legacy that comes with doing something this big at this scale," she said. "This is a different kind of impact and relationship with the community."

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