John C. Hyde, 64

Journalist, Farmers Market Founder John C. Hyde of Takoma Park Dies at 64

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 14, 2009

John C. Hyde, 64, a journalist and author who established a farmers market targeted to immigrants and that allows shoppers to use food stamps and other federal food assistance coupons, died March 6 at Washington Adventist Hospital after injuring his head in a fall at his home in Takoma Park.

Mr. Hyde worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as Maryland and Montgomery County officials to set up the Crossroads farmers market in Takoma Park at University and New Hampshire avenues.

The market is known for two reasons: Its vendors are often immigrants from the Caribbean, India and West Africa who sell produce native to their countries. And when it opened in 2007, it was the only farmers market in Maryland where customers could use food stamps as well as coupons from the federal Women, Infants and Children program.

He also developed the "Fresh Checks" program, which doubles the value of food stamps if they are used to buy produce at the market.

"He was really, really enthusiastic," said Michele Thomas, who with Mr. Hyde co-wrote the grant application that funded the market's founding. "He was very supportive in that he lived in the area for so long, and he had ties with city government and was very well-connected because he and his wife ran Takoma Kitchens [a bakery] at the Takoma Park market. He was very passionate about providing local foods to people . . . and he was trusted by the community."

From 2000 to 2008, Mr. Hyde was executive director of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, an organization that gives grants to journalists who do not work for major news organizations and want to undertake significant investigations into corruption, malfeasance and incompetence. The first recipient, in 1969, was Seymour Hersh, for his investigation into the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

"John was always alert to the misuses of power here and abroad, and he was an outspoken advocate of the journalists who brought them to the fund's attention," said George Lardner, a former Washington Post reporter who was president of the fund's board of directors during much of Hyde's tenure. "He was especially attentive to journalists in Africa and Eastern Europe, many of whom work under difficult circumstances."

Mr. Hyde was a reporter at the Des Moines Register from 1973 to 1988, covering politics and agriculture in Iowa and the District.

He left the paper to write "American Dreamer," a 2000 biography of Henry Wallace, a vice president and U.S. agriculture secretary who developed hybrid seed corn. The book, co-written with Sen. John C. Culver (D-Iowa), was well-received.

Historian Nelson Lichtenstein, writing in the New York Times, called it "an expansive and engaging biography," and reporter Richard Pearson, writing in The Washington Post, called it "an authoritatively written history filled with unforgettable characters, and a masterly political, social and economic sweep."

John Clinton Hyde, a Denver native, was a graduate of Colorado State University and received a master's degree in English from Miami University in Ohio. He taught high school in Ohio and English at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., before joining the Iowa newspaper. He moved to the Washington area in 1981.

His marriage to Judy Hyde ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 19 years, Louise Schwartzwalder of Takoma Park; two sons from his first marriage, Ken Hyde of Woodbridge and Kip Hyde of San Francisco; and two grandchildren.

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