A unique farmers’ market returned to the streets of Toronto’s Little Jamaica this weekend.
Food was offered from Caribbean islands, from African countries, as well as local products grown by farmers in the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. It will be held weekly throughout the summer until the end of September.
“We’re Canada’s first culture-specific farmers’ market, and we’re here every week for the next 13 weeks here on Reggae Lane in Little Jamaica,” Lori Beazer, who founded the market, told Global News.
The market started in the Jane Street and Wilson Avenue area in 2017 and started again in Little Jamaica in 2021. Eighteen different vendors participate in the market, selling baked goods and fresh produce, as well as imported Caribbean foods.
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“It’s important for the area, it’s important for the community, it’s important for the businesses, it’s important that we encourage people to support small and local businesses, especially now,” said Jacqueline Dwyer, one of the founders of the Toronto Black Farmers Collective, said.
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“It’s also important that we eat closer to home.”
The market is located in the Little Jamaica-Afro Caribbean Cultural District, created by the City of Toronto to preserve the region’s unique history.
The rich Caribbean history anchored in the Little Jamaica neighborhood dates back to the 1960s when Jamaican migrants settled in Toronto and transformed the place into a global hotbed of reggae culture.
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Jamaican-Canadian historian and longtime resident Afua Cooper recalls Little Jamaica’s heyday well.
“You see multiple generations in Little Jamaica — grandparents, parents, kids, cousins, everyone,” Cooper, a professor of history, sociology and social anthropology at Dalhousie University, told Global News.
“The churches were there, it was a real community site … you could speak your language, you could speak Jamaican Creole or Patois, it was a place you could just breathe out,” said Cooper, noting the “generosity.” of cultural capital the neighborhood has also spent.
Market organizers hope the event can help the area recover from the pandemic and years of disruption to construction along Eglinton Avenue.
“The Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market wants to put down its roots in the heart of this new district,” explains the market’s website, citing the disruption caused by the ongoing construction of the Eglinton Crosstown project.
– With files from Kayla McLean of Global News
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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