When the pandemic started in March, Navi Johnson and her family were busy putting in a garden behind her mother’s house in Church Hill. They planted okra, cucumber, squash, kale, cabbage and tomatoes into the three raised beds, filling up the entire backyard.
“As it grew and progressed, I started to notice that more African Americans were growing gardens after the pandemic. It seemed to spike during the protests and riots, when stores were looted or had to close early. Many of us are located in food deserts, where the only access to food is a gas station or fast food. It seemed like people were learning how to be self-sufficient with their own gardens,” Johnson said.
“I thought, Let’s celebrate it. Pool our resources together and put it in one place so that we can take care of one another,” she added.
And that’s how the RVA Black Farmer’s Market was born.
Last Saturday, the RVA Black Farmer’s Market had its first public market in the pouring rain. Roughly 10 local vendors brought kale, mint, basil, squash and tomatoes and people showed up in the driving rain to support them.
“We had so much success, we decided to have another one this Saturday,” Johnson said.
This Saturday, she hopes there will be double the vendors – around 22 – selling everything from fresh produce to fresh baked bread, homemade cookies, vegan dishes, arts, crafts and jewelry.
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