A Sunday Morning with Badaro Urban Farmers
Starting in November 2017, Badaro Urban Farmers (BUF) opened a market at College Saint Sauveur on Museum Street in Badaro, Beirut that occurs every Sunday from 9 am – 2 pm. This market is run by volunteers from the community and offers eco-friendly and community-building activities, which they hope will result in a greener neighborhood with a strong community spirit.
A group of residents in the Badaro area of Beirut started this market as they wanted to create a direct selling platform built on transparency and trust, respecting both human and the environment’s health – a kind of platform that they realized was very rare in Lebanon. At the very core of this market is a strong community spirit. The board consists of 4 volunteers, 3 producers, and 2 consumers as observers. They are elected annually in September by both producers and consumers.
The market provides space for producers and consumers to build a relationship that allows them to better understand each other – on one side, the needs of urban communities, and on the other, the challenges of being a grower in Lebanon.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food system and creating environmental awareness.”
BUF members want to provide producers with a low-cost option to sell directly to consumers, while also allowing Beirut residents to have better access to buying fresh products (mostly organic) directly from producers. However, they also want to allow for all to access and enjoy the market, so they have started a social program, where some of the produce and products are sold at one third of the price – in order to welcome a wider range of consumers.
Attended by over 200 visitors, the market sells a variety of products, including fresh vegetables, honey, zaatar mixes, mouneh, sugar-free jams, fresh herbs and wildflowers, bread, beer and cider, essential oils, organic wines, soaps, and other local prepared goods. Every week, BUF is thrilled to host new producers. Last Sunday, they hosted 25 producers at the market – in peak season, they will host around 35 producers.
The Sunday market is a great opportunity for visitors to gather and engage with each other as well. A space for both adults and children – market organized kid’s activities.
“By providing the opportunity for producers to connect directly with consumers, and via the workshops offered, the market also serves as an education center. Producers are teaching customers and their children about agriculture, beekeeping, recycling and composting. The market makes the community stronger and healthier”.
When you enter the market, the BUF managing team offers coffee/tea and snacks. For example, they often serve Manouche (Lebanese flatbread) with Zaatar or other spices and herbs – it is the most popular and affordable breakfast (around 1 USD). At this welcome stand, they help orient the customers at the market – to better understand the benefits of shopping at the farmers market, as well as other social and environmental initiatives. They provide visitors with information about the market and producers, collect feedback and ideas, and encourage the community to participate as volunteers. They have also organized several green initiatives at the market – as it is a perfect place for educating around the importance of taking care of our beautiful planet earth. For example, they promote an initiative called Live Love Recycle, which provides a space for the community to deposit recycled items at the market. Additionally, they are aiming to relaunch an initiative to ensure the market is zero-waste. Soon, they will sell cotton tote bags at the market for producers and buyers to avoid using non-reusable bags as much as possible.
Photo Credit: Badaro Urban Farmers