‘Healthy food and social justice’: Inside UK’s first Black farmers market

“Racism, classism and not feeling safe in majority-white, middle-class spaces, is largely why Black farmers aren’t able to sell their produce in many of the traditional market spaces,” say traders Natasha Pencil and Aisha Jade.

Hence, the pair’s upcoming ‘Black Farmers Market’, billed as the first major one to take place in Britain, is a bid to redress the balance and give Black growers a platform to ply their trade.

While working on Brixton Station Road in south London, Aisha and Natasha say they’ve often been met with complaints from fellow Black entrepreneurs about a lack of investment, viable opportunities, and publicity for their businesses.

Frustrated with the current status quo, Natasha decided to take matters into their own hands by launching the event to increase exposure for Black growers and makers this Black History Month.

After approaching the council and various entities for grants, the rest, as they say, is history – though not without challenges.

This Sunday, Between POP Brixton and Brixton Station Road, the event will present opportunities for customers to buy fresh produce, street food and drinks while enjoying family activities against the backdrop of music from a live DJ.

“There are quite a few Black farmers markets in the US – but we just don’t really have much of a presence in that UK agricultural space, so to have a Black farmers market here is very new,” Natasha told The Independent.

“Black farmers exist in this country but in terms of them having an outlet to sell their produce, that isn’t easy to come by.

“It’s quite difficult for the many people who do grow produce to set up a business and really move forward with it, because selling your crops is one thing but the business side is another. There aren’t really the resources to help with that.”

The event aims to reinvigorate a part of Brixton that often gets overlooked for “flashier market destinations” while bringing together a wealth of local talent, the pair explained.

There are farmer’s markets up and down the country which are distinguished from the public markets generally housed in permanent structures and marked by the sale of commercial goods in addition to fruits and vegetables. Experts will tell you that farmers markets are good for local economies, consumers and the environment.

However, these spaces are often hard to break into. Many are run by private companies that charge high rates and expensive fees to rent gazebos and key equipment, plus there are also waiting lists for markets in popular areas, Natasha and Aisha said.

Plus, the entrepreneurs say a lot of information about the documents, equipment and training required to begin trading isn’t readily available.

“If you do get there where there’s often not much diversity or representation; often, Black growers don’t feel connected to the space that may be available to trade in,” Aisha, founder of healthy drinks range Carisips, explained, and then their customers will also be disinclined to buy there.

The ‘Black Farmer’s Market’, Natasha’s brainchild, has been funded through her own pocket plus, a combination of grants from Peabody Communities fund, Give Black – Ujama, Brixton Bid, the Oak Foundation, and a small contribution from Lambeth Council’s Regeneration team.

The Roots Farmer has championed social justice

“One of the benefits of this event is the growers will be registered with the Lambeth markets team so when the season’s back around again, and they have their fruit and vegetables, they can come back and trade on Brixton Station Road,” she explained.

“I’m literally introducing new traders and potential entrepreneurs to a street that is so under-utilised right now”.

Yet, Lambeth Council’s regeneration team has not been fully supportive of the ‘Black Farmer’s Market’ initiative, the pair claimed, with some of the group advising that they can’t see how this, in the long term, will help to regenerate the area.

The event has gained support from Labour Councillor Dr Jacqueline Dyer, who said: “I welcome the opportunity to showcase Black-led business/entrepreneurs in Lambeth”.

One of the aims of the market is to bring together local talents

Agriculture is one of the UK’s least diverse industries, figures show


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