By Annette Pinder

Providence Farm Collective (PFC) farm market is proud to announce its opening. Located on Buffalo’s West Side at 130 Grant Street in the M&T Bank parking lot, shoppers can visit the market on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm from July through October.

PFC is a nonprofit that supports Black, immigrant, refugee, and low-income farmers in Western New York who cannot otherwise access farmland. It began in 2017 as a grassroots effort by the Somali Bantu community, whose goal was to return to its agricultural roots by growing fresh, culturally relevant produce. With its incubator farms, community farms, and summer youth employment program, PFC provides Western New York’s refugee and under-resourced communities with a place to grow their own food, earn supplemental income, and teach cultural farming traditions to future generations. PFC now includes refugees from many nations, as well as members of the Black community.

As part of a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant, Hamadi Ali is PFC’s full-time market manager overseeing the market’s operation. Ali also works to scale PFC’s produce collection for food banks and non-profit organizations that serve low-income, food insecure communities. “In addition to being a source of income for PFC’s farmers, it improves access to healthy, culturally-relevant, and affordable foods for community members facing food insecurity,” says Ali.

The PFC Farmers Market sells traditional crops, such as African maize, amaranth, roselle, hot peppers, and African and Asian eggplants. Farmers also receive training and technical assistance to promote and sell their produce to historically under-resourced WNY communities. Using a “learn, do, teach” approach, PFC farmers develop the skills required to successfully market their produce directly to consumers. The effort supports a more robust food system, promotes health and equity and expanded access to healthy and affordable foods and culturally relevant foods, and supports BIPOC farmers in serving local low income and low access communities.

PFC Executive Director Kristin Heltman-Weiss says, “Last season, PFC’s farmers expressed a desire to have a farmers’ market that would allow each of the collective’s 16+ farms to sell fresh food directly to their community. This grant is a step toward the realization of that dream. In future years, we hope to welcome other nonprofits as vendors and incorporate cultural activities and celebrations.”

“When we heard about the Providence Farm Collective’s plans for a farmers market, we immediately knew it was something we wanted to support,” says Kay Tuholski, branch manager at M&T’s Grant Street Multicultural Banking Center. “The West Side has seen an infusion of energy and vitality as immigrants and refugees from countries around the world have settled into the neighborhood, started businesses, and sparked a resurgence. The PFC Farmers Market is an important way we’re able to help multicultural business owners and provide healthy, culturally relevant, and affordable foods so all our neighbors can participate in our community’s revival.”

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