Windsor, a rural community in eastern Alachua County, seemingly meets all of the qualifications to be considered a food desert.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas.”
Windsor is both “vapid of fresh fruit” and “found in [an] impoverished area.”
And yet the USDA does not count those living in Windsor among the 23.6 million Americans who live in food deserts.
Rose Gann lives in Windsor and said many of her neighbors live on a low-to-medium income. Some rely solely on Social Security. Getting food is neither quick nor easy.
“If you want to go to Hawthorne, it’s 10 to 12 miles. If you want to go to Publix (in Gainesville), it’s 15,” said Gann.
Gann said she has learned how to cope with the distance over time. The hardest part for her was figuring out how much food to buy so it would last until her next grocery run.
She tries to go to the store every three weeks.
In addition, Gann and her family have to take special measures to ensure their groceries stay fresh — taking a cooler on their grocery trips along with insulated bags.
People that are located so far from fresh food are forced to create a network to help each other out, Gann said, as some people don’t have cars or are too old to go to the store on their own.
“There was an old lady that lived down the street that couldn’t drive anymore, so I would go to the store for her and bring her groceries,” said Jerry Jayne, a veteran who lives in the same area as Gann.
Not too long ago, there were other options for people living in the Windsor community. In between Gann’s community and the grocery store, there used to be a small, corner, food-store, but it was forced to close down due to high prices, she said.
There was also a produce stand that was owned by Richard Bloodsworth, better known as Mr. B.
Mr. B’s Produce had apples, peppers, tomatoes, and other fresh produce.
Mr. B ran his food stand for 27 years; this was his slowest year, he said, perhaps resulting from January’s record rainfall pushing produce costs higher.
At 82 years old, Mr. B decided, he was ready to retire.