Fledgling farmers market looks to serve Candler-McAfee community in DeKalb

Neelah Hinds is the founder and market master of Candler Black Market, which serves the Candler-McAfee community. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

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Neelah Hinds is the founder and market master of Candler Black Market, which serves the Candler-McAfee community. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

The Candler-McAfee community, just south of Decatur in unincorporated DeKalb County, is one such pocket without ready access to fresh, locally grown food.

Neelah Hinds hopes to change that. Last August, Hinds established the Candler Black Market, a weekly farmers market that operates Sunday afternoons at 2321 Candler Road, in the parking lot of the Crest Center. After a winter hiatus, the market resumed in late April.

Hinds is a native New Yorker whose family moved to Georgia — first to Augusta, then Atlanta —– during her youth. She grew up in Candler-McAfee and attended Southwest DeKalb High School. “When we moved here, food was an issue,” she said, noting that farmers markets were a novel concept at the time. “A lot of us didn’t know these existed.”

Now a mother of three and a small-business owner herself, her goal for the Candler Black Market is to increase access to healthy food and “to encourage Black entrepreneurship.”

The majority of the market’s vendors are Black, but Hinds emphasized that everyone is welcome — as vendors and marketgoers.

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Musa (left) and Micole Hasan (center) of Bread and Butter Farms in Monroe are among the vendors at this year's Candler Black Market. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Musa (left) and Micole Hasan (center) of Bread and Butter Farms in Monroe are among the vendors at this year's Candler Black Market. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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Musa (left) and Micole Hasan (center) of Bread and Butter Farms in Monroe are among the vendors at this year's Candler Black Market. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

As market master, Hinds has secured about three dozen participating vendors for the 2021 season. On average, a rotating list of about 20 businesses is present each week. Shoppers who browse the row of blue and white tents will find fresh produce, prepared foods, skin care and body wellness products, clothing, jewelry, art and home decor items.

Husband and wife Musa and Micole Hasan grow a variety of vegetables at their Bread and Butter Farms in Monroe. They also make organic compound butters and halal beef bacon. Regulars at the Peachtree Road and Lilburn farmers markets, this is their first season at the Candler Black Market.

“I think the potential is there,” Micole Hasan said of the fledgling market.

“This is a food desert. It’s a good spot for (selling) vegetables,” her husband added.

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KeeYah Gardens owner Monica Booker sells a variety of microgreens at the Candler Black Market. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

KeeYah Gardens owner Monica Booker sells a variety of microgreens at the Candler Black Market. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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KeeYah Gardens owner Monica Booker sells a variety of microgreens at the Candler Black Market. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

This season, the market has partnered with the nonprofit Wholesome Wave Georgia to do a better job of serving low-income households that rely on federal assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Candler Black Market customers with SNAP benefits now can swipe their electronic benefit transfer cards with a market staffer, in exchange for tokens worth twice as much as the value debited from their card.

Shoppers who need to refuel on the spot can find Aja Henri at the Avant-Garde’n booth, dishing out creamy mac and cheese, full-flavored baked beans, chicken fried cauliflower, kale-collard greens salad and other 100% plant-based, dairy-free prepared dishes. There’s also the mother-daughter team of Charmaine Martin and Akilah Millar, plating up the same Caribbean fare they offer at Calabash Alley, Martin’s restaurant, located just a couple blocks down the road in Candler Plaza.

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Charmaine Martin (right) and her daughter, Akilah Millar, plate up the same Caribbean fare at the Candler Black Market that they offer at their Calabash Alley restaurant in Candler Plaza. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Charmaine Martin (right) and her daughter, Akilah Millar, plate up the same Caribbean fare at the Candler Black Market that they offer at their Calabash Alley restaurant in Candler Plaza. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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Charmaine Martin (right) and her daughter, Akilah Millar, plate up the same Caribbean fare at the Candler Black Market that they offer at their Calabash Alley restaurant in Candler Plaza. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

While every market day is family-friendly, the second Sunday of the month holds a special attraction for the younger crowd: Besides fun freebies and a “petit parade” at 3:30 p.m., budding entrepreneurs can set up their own booths.

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Children are permitted to set up their own booths the second Sunday of each month. Among the budding entrepreneurs who plan to participate are (from left) Skyler Hinds, Kayden Forsyth, Sloane Hinds and Faraji Huntt. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Children are permitted to set up their own booths the second Sunday of each month. Among the budding entrepreneurs who plan to participate are (from left) Skyler Hinds, Kayden Forsyth, Sloane Hinds and Faraji Huntt. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Combined ShapeCaption
Children are permitted to set up their own booths the second Sunday of each month. Among the budding entrepreneurs who plan to participate are (from left) Skyler Hinds, Kayden Forsyth, Sloane Hinds and Faraji Huntt. Ligaya Figueras/ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

This weekend will see 9-year-old Kayden Forsyth peddling customized shoes. Hinds’ 8-year-old daughter, Skyler, will sell flowerpots she painted herself. “I think it’s better for people to have plants — and not just in normal flowerpots you get from Walmart,” she said.

Candler Black Market. 1-5 p.m. Sundays, through November. 2321 Candler Road, Decatur. 404-452-5694, candlerblackmarket.com.

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