On the Sunday afternoon of Nov. 18, excited members of the Durham community assembled at 411 West Chapel Hill St., across from the bustling Greyhound bus station for an organic occasion. The upbeat sound from the DJ assisted farmers, entrepreneurs and small business owners in conversation as they gathered under the brightly patterned canopies which filled the parking lot. Downtown Durham marked its 5th annual Black Farmers’ Market.
The earthy smells of organic sweet potatoes to the soft aroma of essential oils were just a few products on-site. The Black Farmers’ Market is a unique marketplace where African-Americans can come together to watch the “black-dollar” be invested and circulated within other black businesses.
In attendance were stands from “Faithfull Farms” and “The Mobile Fresh Food Market” were able to share their products. Jordan Smith, a enthusiastic customer, shared why it is imperative for the community to get together and addresses the nutrition issue.
“We never know where our food is coming from. Having the security of knowing our food is being raised in our backyards reflects food security.”
Joshua Gunn, the co-founder of “Black August in the Park,” explained the event’s history.
“To continue the tradition, we needed to create a safe space,” Gunn said. Its legacy traces back to the 70s when there was an extreme push for black solidarity and wellness. Since the beginning of the fight, black communities have been suffering from a unique plague which is now described as a “food desert,” a term defined as an urban area where it is extremely difficult to access fresh, affordable food. In fact, in the urban area in Durham, there is now an over-population of “food swamps,” which is a place where fast food chain restaurants are the main source of food supply.
“Black farmers are necessary to counter not having access to holistic healthy food options,” Gunn said.
One of the primary goals of the “Black August in the Park” umbrella is to create a safe environment for everyone black — and the “Black Farmers’ Market” is only a small tier within it. The event last year had over 7,000 guests in attendance, and the goal is for numbers to triple as years progress.
Gunn explained, “We want the event to feel a like a big family reunion, where everyone you encounter is full of love and willing to share knowledge to other brothers and sisters. We want to address and move black causes and get cooperative black economics.” The end goal is to have the event feel like a marketplace of black thought, being the main and largest gathering of black people.
The Black Farmers’ Market is a small step in the direction of seeking liberation beyond black economics. W.E.B Du Bois once described “Black Wall Street” as the ideal scenario of black people’s existence. Gunn wishes everyone is more informed and attends “Black August in the Park” events so blackness can visible in every facet of the city.
There is more info available on the website: https://www.blackaugustinthepark.com/ and all inquiries can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org