Rontavia Briscoe's face may have been covered with a mask Wednesday evening, but there was little doubt she was flashing a smile underneath. After all, Briscoe said with a giggle, she's earned the nickname "Smiley" thanks to her omnipresent grin.

Briscoe has had a lot to smile about lately. Business is quickly picking up at Taysty Treats LLC, the bakery and treat shop she started from her kitchen in October of last year after being laid off from her job at United Healthcare.

Thanks to SOUL Street’s Black Owned Farmers Market, which officially launched at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, she now has a new venue to advertise her sweets and meet customers.

“It provides a great opportunity for us, especially the small businesses in the community,” Briscoe said, her eyes crinkling up in a smile. “Sometimes it’s better to see and feel and taste in-person than doing something online.”

The Black Owned Farmers Market will continue providing that opportunity to Black craftspeople, agriculturalists, creatives and entrepreneurs in the Frederick area for the rest of the summer, occurring every third Wednesday of the month, from 4 to 7 p.m. Besides next month’s market — which will be located at the Sky Stage — vendors will be gathering at the 7th Street Common Market, as they did on Wednesday, filling the parking lot with colorful booths and cheerful chatter. Kids dashed about on the pavement, many making a beeline toward Briscoe’s table, which was crowded with gourmet popcorn, cookie push-pops and other toothsome treats.

Creating a market like the one that kicked off Wednesday was a core goal of Black business owners and community members in Frederick when they came together to create SOUL Street in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, aiming to empower Black entrepreneurs and businesspeople while building Black generational wealth. Ultimately, the collective wants to open a brick-and-mortar grocery store stocked entirely with products from Black farms and businesses, said Michele Forbes, one of the organization’s founding members.

“We want our kids to grow up and see these Black businesses and be able to walk down Market Street and be able to see people who look like us in a business,” said Forbes, who attended high school in Frederick and has two children.

Forbes and the other SOUL Streeters at the market Wednesday were ecstatic to see the crowd it attracted. Before the booths had even officially opened, people were already roaming around and chatting with the vendors. There was Dominique Tolbert’s spice shop— which was represented by her twin siblings — and Natisha Britton’s apparel pop-up, Rhonda Walters’ skin and hair butter and the Bryan family’s bakery.

At one table, Amira Chappelle Brooks stood before an array of colorful candles — each one hand-poured and plant-based, she said. Similar to Briscoe’s shop, Chappelle Brooks’ candle company is a fairly new business; she just had her four month-iversary, she said with a laugh. She started making candles during the pandemic, picking the hobby back up after trying it as a teenager.

“When I ran out of people to give them to, I started selling them,” she said, smiling.

Natasha Bowens Blair’s booth seemed especially busy. Customers buzzed around the table, smelling the dried flowers, herbs and plants arranged around it. Bowens Blair, another SOUL Street founding member, is one of Frederick’s very few Black farmers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture — the most recent data available — there are only seven farms with Black or African American producers in the county, compared to 1,358 farms with white producers. In all, farms that include Black or African American producers span only 0.1 percent of the county’s farmland.

Outside of helping to run Native Mountain Farm with her mother-in-law, Bowens Blair is dedicated to advocating for other farms run by Black, Latina, Asian and Native communities across the country. In 2015, she published “The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming,” a book featuring the stories and portraits of farmers and food activists from these communities. She spent Tuesday and much of Wednesday on the road, picking up produce and other “goodies” from Black farmers who operate close to Frederick to sell at Wednesday’s market.

“If we really want equity and justice in the community and we want to have equality and invest in our community, it’s through the dollars,” she said.

Shana Knight, SOUL Street’s executive director and another founding member, had a similar message to share Wednesday evening. Fresh off a 30-minute bike ride from where she lives in Ballenger Creek’s Farmbrook neighborhood, Knight beamed as she talked about how proud she’s been of the Frederick community as she’s seen how many residents are excited to invest in Black businesses.

“[The market isn’t] just a place for Black people — it’s a place where everyone can come together to support the Black business community,” she said, “because that really does build that Black generational wealth. And it really does help with creating systemic change and battling systemic racism.”

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter: @24_angier

(41) comments

public-redux

Sounds as bigoted as an Amish market.

You know Amish markets have the best stuff! You won’t get better 🥓, nothing tastes as good as Amish bacon..,they also have some pretty good bakery products too, have you ever tried their strawberry rhubarb pie? Amazing…! And the peach 🍑 pie, so 🤤 yummy

public-redux

Amish bacon? I’m not into long pork.

But the point is the bigotry of Amish markets.

shiftless88

I knew the racists would be all over this one. How dare anyone try to help others

C.D.Reid

Sounds more like a craft fair than a farmer's market.

sdm817

Nothing but modern day racism. Plain and simple. Look up the definition if you do not understand.

Awteam2021

Help me out. Be more explicit. How is it racist?

artandarchitecture

Frederick blacks and Hispanics can both bask in the fact that they're much, much, wealthier than Frederick whites.

Frederick's Poor (DATAUSA):

59.1% white

17.8% Hispanic

14.9% black

https://datausa.io/profile/geo/frederick-county-md/#demographics

BlueFredneck

Now compare to the percentages among Frederick's overall population: 75% White, 9.7% Black, and 8.7% Hispanic (of any race). (Per Wiki, from Census Bureau).

shiftless88

math is too hard for art

No actually Art is quite good with math..he is able to manipulate the data to suit his needs and that's impressive...until you look deeper. Then you see that it isn't math that's hard for Art...it's accepting reality that's hard for him.

artandarchitecture

p.s.

"Generational wealth" comes from having learned how to save money. High schools should be teaching financial management to all students, but racking up lots of debt is big business in America.

sevenstones1000

Generational wealth also comes from not having your business burned downed (Tulsa and elsewhere), your savings stolen (see: Freedman’s Bank and the theft of former-enslaved people’s life savings) and your wage earners murdered or run out of town by white Supremacists. Think about it.

artandarchitecture

1. Fire insurance.

2. Everyone's a 'slave'. Read "A History of Central Banking and the Enslavement of Mankind."

3. I have *yet* to meet a 'white supremacist,' & I have tried! I was labeled one for voting for Trump in '16, & was determined to try to find out what a self-proclaimed ws believes. I couldn't. I couldn't locate one. And I spent hours trying, before I finally gave up.

Art

So you have spent hours trying to locate a 'white supremist' ? LOL..wow I wish they were that hard to locate...You are trolling us right?

Me I am able to locate plenty of 'white supremist' ..I guess it all depends on your POV right? From my POV I see nothing but white supremacy....then again as a NPOC woman I see things way different than say a POC...

Now I grant you a white supremist would not label themselves a 'white supremacist,' to my face, but it doesn't really matter how they label themselves..does it? It matters how the rest of us see a 'white supremacist,'

White supremacist definition is - a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races....So you mean to tell us Art you aren't a white supremacist?

Well that's good news to hear that....

Awteam2021

Art, have you tried looking in the mirror?

Awteam2020

I think Art has looked in the mirror and that's why she feels the need to deflect us from what she's seen? She knows how we see her....and it's a tad uncomfortable for her...

Odd that most of us have never felt the need to explain what we aren't...Everything I'm not made me everything I am...

sevenstones1000

You might want to study statistics and how to interpret them before you make a fool out of yourself again.

phydeaux994

a & a, did you notice that this is a statistic about POOR people. A smaller percentage of White people relative to their number in the population are POOR while a larger percentage of Black and Hispanic people relative to their number in the population are POOR. You might want to reread BlueFredneck’s and seven’s 9:23 a.m. comments again for a clue on how to interpret those statistics. BTW, FCCC might have a remedial math class you could take.

Art

Okay maybe not a questionable source....but misrepresenting the data from a reliable source is just as bad...so where exactly in all that data do you see that Frederick whites are not as wealthy as "Frederick blacks and Hispanics"?

That is a lot of data to analyze Art can you tell us where and how you came to your conclusion? I didn't see your stats posted anywhere...but then again it is a lot of data to look through..but I tried. So if you could just tell us under what heading you located those stats..we would all appreciate it.

Is this where you think you saw that whites are less wealthy?

Poverty by Race and Ethnicity

LARGEST RACE OR ETHNICITY LIVING IN POVERTY

White

12,467 ± 819

Hispanic

3,750 ± 532

Black

3,139 ± 403

The most common racial or ethnic group living below the poverty line in Frederick County, MD is White, followed by Hispanic and Black.....is this where you concluded that in the Poverty by Race Ethnicity?

You understand how statistics work right? You are once again misrepresenting the data to suit your agenda, maybe in some forums that works for you but here no it just makes you look a fool... but if you are cool with how most of us see you????

artandarchitecture

You referred to me as 'he'.

Please respect my pronoun: she, and not s/he, but simply...she

Thank you.

Art

My bad I will respect your pronoun....,,I do think I was forgetting that I had you pegged as a she sometime ago....I was just having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that a she could be this....well manipulative.

Oh and your Redline video is misrepresenting the data to fit an agenda....you see that right? Let me know what you think of my Covid vaccine causes infertility -- FACT CHECK video...do you think it's mispresenting the data to fit an agenda?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeoMBc8G5A4&list=WL&index=23

phydeaux994

That’s why I’m wondering if a & a is jerseygrl42 reincarnated PP. I believe that jerseygrl42 was too Racist to be a female, who aren’t usually as mean as the guys.

public-redux

gjthuro is jerseygrl. Same idiosyncrasies: “right you are”, using ellipses in lieu of periods, referring to AP writers by first name, phony statistics.

Phy you know Art does have the same posting style as Jersey...and we haven't seen Jersey for awhile so??? I'm going to keep jerseygrl42 in my mind when I respond to Ms. Art.

artandarchitecture

I copied & pasted the math percentages from the weblink (mouse over the graph & it shows these #s.) So, to everyone boo-hooing about 'wrong math', please take it up w/ DATAUSA.

Thanks for the clarification as to where you obtained your data from...but you are still manipulating the data to fit your agenda aren't you Art? We never said you had the "wrong" math, I am saying you are misrepresenting the math the fit your agenda. So you have any response to that Art?

shiftless88

Art; you are completely missing the point. Your numbers are fine but they do not show what you claim they show. In fact they show the opposite of what you claim.

She is well aware of that..she's just hoping that we aren't aware of that.....I think she thinks we are gullible..LOL...Then again maybe use skeptics aren't her intended audience?? Maybe it's people with Faith that are her intended audience?

By now though you would have thought she would understand she is talking to a bunch of skeptics...but she hasn't.. LOL Skeptics don't have faith...we aren't a gullible audience Art....

fnpreader123

Really? That's just racist. And ridiculous. White people aren't all rich! My family has no generational wealth, and neither did any of my white friends. When a relative dies, sometimes we get a piece of their jewelry or some handmade items, which we cherish, but you can't call that generational wealth! Holy crap, where does it end!

Blueline

I think it's a positive step. People realize that to create wealth you need an income, which you need to manage wisely. This seems to be a move in that direction.

BlueFredneck

It's all averages. Your poor White family doesn't somehow make the redlining, etc., that was active as little as 50 years ago, go away.

I mean, we have Blacks engaging in profitable economic activity, at which all are welcome, and folks are still complaining.

sevenstones1000

Generational wealth takes generations to build up.

artandarchitecture

Please watch Actual Justice Warrior's 'Redlining Myths vs Reality' (22 mins) on youtube. He covers a lot of true home ownership stats that are never, ever, brought up.

Hey Art speaking of Youtube..you should watch this YouTube video...

Please watch COVID-19 vaccine Get the latest information from the CDC. This video has to do with fertility and I know at one time you were concerned about that...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeoMBc8G5A4&list=WL&index=23

Also know that YouTube videos are not a reliable source of info...they to can be manipulated to fit an agenda...so know I will check the sources of the video you posted just as I expect you will check the sources of my Youtube video about Covid...

sevenstones1000

You should learn to work harder and save, I guess.

shiftless88

So you do not believe in efforts to help people build generational wealth? What is your problem with this effort?

Awteam2021

Be industrialist like this group and open up a farmers market or other business and stop whining. Holy crap!

fnpreader123

Yup, that would go over great. Opening a market with entry requirements like: Whites only, short people only, men only, biological women only, trans women only, etc. Can you not see the double standard? The beautiful thing about America is that is doesn't matter where you came from, you can do anything YOU want and work for. Not true in every country, but here it is. Yes, some families pass down wealth. That's their money, good for them. That doesn't take money or opportunity away from you. I would love to make a career from crafting, but I would never want people to buy my stuff because they assume I am disadvantaged and they pity me. Make the best, or unique, stuff and you will do just fine. Also, opening and owning any business is hard, for anyone, hence the high failure rate. The whining and blaming it on skin color is embarrassing, and I find it poor form for whites to assume a black person can't succeed without extra help.

Awteam2021

Fnpreader123, I think you’re just being facetious. Of course yon know that’s not the case. You can’t do that. Jim Crow laws which were created to do just what you said, started in the 1870’s and were abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If that’s the situation here, you have a civil rights case.

phydeaux994

So fnpreader, you don’t believe that Black people have not been allowed to be assimilated into the “White” World like so many other Immigrants who are “White” because of the color of their skin? Stop and think fnpreader, who are the people that are excluded from the “White” Ruling Class in America because of their race or ethnicity? Native Americans, Black, Brown, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, Middle Eastern all are still discriminated against by White Nationalists/Supremacists like yourself. You criticize people who you say don’t meet your standards but who you haven’t allowed to show you they already do.

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