Black-owned businesses celebrate community at local farmers market

Claire Green sells a variety of baked products and homemade canned sauces at her booth, Avery’s Greens. Photo by Enza Marcy

Claire Darcy, Contributing Writer

Eleven-year-old entrepreneur Amanni “Tink” Spratley was one of the vendors at RVA’s Black Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Her business, Tink’s Organic Lemonade, was featured among several other local and Black-owned businesses at the recently-founded market. 

Saturday was Spratley’s first time participating in RVA’s Black Farmer’s Market, although she’s done similar events before. The booth was sold out of lemonade and trail mix before noon. 

“My favorite part is the smiles and the laughter that I get from people,” Spratley said. 

Richmond-based author and Virginia State University alumna Navi Johnson founded RVA’s Black Farmer’s Market in July. According to the market’s Facebook page, it is a “celebration of resiliency and community.” 

The monthly event takes place behind The Way of the Lord Fellowship at 1700 Blair St., occupying two asphalt lots and sidewalk space along the road. Occurring every third Saturday of the month until Nov. 21, the market is open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Tink’s Organic Lemonade, owned by Amanni “Tink” Spratley and mother Pamela Spratley, sells homemade lemonade at RVA’s Black Farmer’s Market. Photo by Enza Marcy

The farmers market is free to enter, and masks are required at all times. Volunteers at various entrance points conduct contactless temperature checks before allowing guests to enter. 

Claire Green, owner of Avery’s Greens, experienced similar success and noted that her items were quickly selling out. Avery’s Greens, named for the owner’s son, features a rotating selection of homemade baked goods such as tomato basil sauce and banana bread.

“It’s just a way for me to take care of myself and stay grounded,” Green said about gardening and baking. She described Avery’s Greens as “self-care turned business.” 

The Saturday market was Green’s second time as a vendor with RVA’s Black Farmers Market. She said she felt more prepared this time thanks to an increased inventory, including homemade olive bread and red velvet cake that her friends contributed.

Richmond locals Matthew Rogers and Alexis Mathis shopped at the farmers market on Saturday. This was their first time attending the event.  Having visited other Richmond farmers markets, Rogers said this one felt more genuinely local, and Mathis said the variety of vendors was the best part. They said they plan to visit again in the future. 

“There’s so much here, and I didn’t even know that Richmond had all of this stuff,” Rogers said. “I think it’s a great way for people in Richmond to showcase their talent and receive positive feedback.”

Ground & Palette, owned by VCU alumnus Kyle Epps, offers a variety of artisan goods and plants. Photo by Enza Marcy

Rogers and Mathis said Ground and Palette was their favorite vendor. Run by VCU alumnus Kyle Epps, Ground and Palette offered a variety of produce, muffins, plants and flowers for sale, along with some of Epps’ artwork. 

“He’s like a one-stop shop,” Mathis said.

Some vendors, such as Urban Spiced, traveled from out of town to participate in the farmers market. 

Run by India Cheeks and Symone Langham, Urban Spiced is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Originally from Richmond, Cheeks said it was easy making the trip. 

“We’re just grateful for the opportunity to do so,” said Cheeks, who was invited to participate in the market by a family friend.

Cheeks and Langham released two new spices for Saturday’s event, called U-Bay and Urban Greens, both of which were sold out before noon. 

There were also opportunities for visitors to take home free items that had been donated by farmers — Cheeks and Langham offered green peppers to their customers, while another vendor offered apples to passersby. 

Consumers had many options for dessert, from ice cream by Ruby Scoops to mini donuts by food truck Domo’s Delights. Karmalita offered marshmallows, s’mores and other confections, while D’s Delectables sold baked goods such as cake and cupcakes. 

The next RVA’s Black Farmer’s Market will be on Oct. 17 behind The Way of the Lord Fellowship, 1700 Blair St.

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