Apr 12, 2024 - News

How the Richmond area got a Latino farmers market

Crowds of people walking through a market with colorful tents up. One is orange and on the left side with a pic of empanadas put up

Opening day of the Latino Farmers Market last Saturday. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

When America DeLoach approached Chesterfield officials about opening a Latino Farmers Market, the response was unanimous: "We love it."

The big picture: DeLoach, the Venezuelan owner of Salsas Don Sebastian, wanted a space for Latinos to celebrate and be proud of their culture — and share it with their neighbors.

  • Richmond had a smaller Latino farmers market once upon a time on Warwick Road that opened in 2012 but is no longer active.
  • Now the only one in the region is DeLoach's Saturday market at Rockwood Park, with around 20 vendors selling empanadas, street-style tacos, produce and more.

Zoom in: She, along with co-founder Deborah Medina-Paolini, was aware of the anti-immigrant stereotypes some residents held against the Richmond area's fastest-growing demographic, which grew 324% to 103,000 people between 2000 and 2020.

  • A few repeated them under the market's social media posts. Others saw the name as exclusionary.

Yes, but: DeLoach told Axios the more pushback she received, the more confident she felt in what the Saturday market at Chesterfield's Rockwood Park could be: a chance to connect people and change perceptions.

A woman smiling at the camera with people and red and yellow tents. One has a sign for Don Sebastian, another has flags hanging from them and a sign that says "Bienvenidos!! Thank you for your support to our Latino market!"
Latino Farmers Market co-founder America DeLoach on opening day. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

It was also how smaller Latino vendors could establish themselves.

  • DeLoach's goal is to have about 70% Latino vendors and help them with the paperwork, which can be confusing for first-time business owners, especially non-native English speakers.
  • Some Latino vendors told DeLoach they haven't felt as welcome at other farmers markets and will sometimes be put in the back.

State of play: That's partially why Veronica Sorondo, a vendor and owner of Venezuelan food spot TiZana, felt excited on opening day last Saturday.

  • She kept seeing vendors she knew were struggling to get into other markets sell out by 10:30am.

In between the salsa dancing, "Plástico" by Willie Colón playing and fresh arepas sizzling, DeLoach said people kept coming up to her to say a variation of the same thing.

  • "Thank you. For the community. For the representation."

What's next: The Latino Farmers Market will be every Saturday from 8am-noon until Nov. 2.

Go deeper: The Venezuelan restaurant you have to try: Con Salsa.

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