'All of this is about good intentions': Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market opens in Toronto's Little Jamaica
Toronto’s Little Jamaica has a new farmers’ market, one that aims to reflect the diversity of this unique west-end neighbourhood.
The Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market opened on July 4 with the traditional of cutting of the ivy and pouring of the libations. Held every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Green P parking lot at 1531 Eglinton Ave. W., just east of Oakwood Avenue, it is set to run until Oct. 3.
Long-time area resident Lori Beazer is the founder and manager of the market, which was previously located in a hotel parking lot in North York, but has been without a home since 2017.
Beazer said she had her sights set on bringing the weekly market to Little Jamaica, but had been met with some roadblocks.
It took a chance encounter with local Coun. Josh Matlow to make that happen. About year ago, Beazer bumped into the Toronto-St. Paul’s rep at a local café and pitched him her idea.
“My concept was to reclaim ownership of the community. … All of this is about good intentions,” Beazer told toronto.com.
“We wanted to offer food and products that are relevant and wanted by people who live there. … We’re also trying to create a cultural hub through food. It’s a place people can come to on a Sunday and reconnect.”
Matlow immediately got on board and started taking steps to make it happen.
“My role was to get the right players together: the BIA (business improvement area), Toronto Parking Authority, and deal with all the other administrative stuff,” he said, adding the farmers’ market is also a good way to help improve community safety, while fostering the character and identity of the neighbourhood.
“This is a real tangible example of how to animate the community and support local businesses,” said Matlow, who has brought forward a number of motions to better support Little Jamaica.
He said now more than ever it’s important to bring vibrancy and social cohesion back to the community, which has been hit especially hard by the lengthy LRT construction, not to mention the pandemic.
The York-Eglinton BIA, which is a market partner, is also excited about this new endeavour and the possibilities it brings.
“It’s been incredibly difficult in the last little while for our neighbourhood with the LRT construction along with COVID. … Little Jamaica has suffered a lot over the years,” said manager Louroz Mercader, adding local merchants are encouraged by the market’s instant success, which saw dozens of people come out during last Sunday’s rain storm.
“We feel (Little Jamaica) is the perfect home for this market. … It brings vitality and life back to the community.”