The protests around the death of George Floyd among numerous others in the last few weeks has sparked a new dialogue about race in America. One of those conversations is how racism affects black people in business and can affect their livelihood. A group of local farmers in Washington, D.C., believes that they were denied vendor spots at one of the most profitable markets in the city based on their race.
Forbes reports that a group of black farmers and food makers are accusing Freshfarm, owner of D.C.’s largest farmers market in Dupont Circle, of denying them vendor spots. Earlier this week the company wrote a post on Instagram encouraging their followers to shop at the black-owned producers and farms within their network. One of those entrepreneurs is Toyin Alli, the owner/chef of Puddin’, a street food vendor who sells comfort food such as their signature Brown Butter Bourbon Bread Puddin’ at local markets and from two food trucks.
Alli and several other black food producers have been talking about Freshfarm’s discrimination for years. She went on to say that she applied for one of the spots at the Dupont Circle market but was denied at every attempt with no explanation.
“If you truly valued your black-owned business vendors then why do we only represent less than one percent of vendors at your highest grossing market, Dupont Circle,” wrote Alli on her Instagram page.
Executive director Hugo Mogollon and deputy director Nony Dutton spoke with Alli by phone about the Instagram post. As a new member to the company and a person of color, Mogollon told Forbes he’s committed to doing better by their black vendors. “Our intention was to support the businesses but we missed the target,” he admitted.
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@freshfarmdc if you truly valued your black-owned business vendors then why do we only represent less than 1 percent of vendors at your highest grossing market, DuPont Circle? Please do not use Puddin’ only when #blacklivesmatter is trending. I’ve been applying to DuPont Circle market for 7 years and have been denied every time for no good reason. DO NOT USE MY BLACK-OWNED BUSINESS TO EXHIBIT YOUR “INCLUSIVENESS” WHEN YOU ARE NOT ABOUT THAT LIFE! @washingtonpost @wapofood @edibledc @wpgc @naacp @blacklivesmatterdc @timeoutdc @thrillist @brightestyoungthings