Monthly pop-up market hosts local vendors, offers free home-grown crops


Courtesy of Donna McClish

Chief Executive Officer Donna McClish works with other Common Ground Producers and Growers.

Friday’s heavy rain couldn’t keep away WSU students, local community members and market lovers from the Paradise Baptist Church as it hosted the monthly “First Fridays” pop-up market. 

Common Ground Producers and Growers, in partnership with WSU and Paradise Baptist Church, organize the monthly market as a way to provide not only fun and unique vendor items but fresh fruits and vegetables for those in need.

“We do meaningful work at these markets,” Chief Executive Officer Donna Pearson McClish said. “We’re just trying to provide the fresh produce students, and everyone else, needs to live a happy and healthy life.”

Along with local vendors, Common Ground provided a variety of home-grown vegetables, including onions, tomatoes and special spiceless jalapenos all for free. 

The Paradise Baptist Church, and Wichita State University, are located within a food desert, which means that there are no easily available grocery stores or produce markets to sustain nearby populations. Common Ground, through various partnerships and volunteers, works in the Wichita area to decrease the impact of food insecurity and food deserts by giving First Friday attendees, and others who consult their services, free fresh produce. 

The pop-up market was originally intended to have both outdoor and indoor vendors, but Friday’s consistent downpour sent the outdoor vendors inside the church, partially obscuring the event from potential customers driving along 17th St. Regardless of the rain, vendors like Katherine Love were still able to socialize with community members and sell their own handmade wares. 

In Love’s case, affordable handmade jewelry and accessories were made available to shoppers, just ahead of the holiday season. Love, the owner of Paparazzi, believes that by making unique jewelry accessible to the Wichita community, women and jewelry lovers can express themselves and find strength in fashion.

When wearing jewelry, I feel very confident in myself,” Love said. “ I truly believe that life is too short to be wearing boring jewelry or no jewelry at all. Women should know that jewelry has power which gives the most unique look a person could use to accessories their fashion look.”

McClish, and other Common Ground volunteers and members, plan to continue to attend First Friday markets to accomplish their goal of ensuring that “all are fed.”