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“New Black-Owned Food Hall Tackles Food Deserts & Seeks Funding in Washington, D.C.”

From a press release:

“This week, Market 7, a community marketplace featuring several Black-owned businesses for the purpose of alleviating food and retail deserts in D.C.’s notoriously underserved Ward 7, announced that it is 1 of 3 semi-finalists in the nationwide Essence + Pine Sol’s Build Your Legacy Grant Competition. The contest, ending July 1, will provide one Black woman-owned business with a grant of $100,000.

The winner will be determined by a public vote, and Market 7 is asking everyone across the country to help in securing the grant by voting. Receiving the grant will fund the development of their new 7,000 sq ft food hall, which will include a community grocery store and several food stall incubations offering culinary favorites from across the diaspora.


Market 7 provides Black-owned businesses a sustainable platform for vendorship to sell fresh produce and other sustainable goods, and will serve as the incubator of the new food hall at Benning Market. With Ward 7 long viewed as a food and retail desert, Market 7 serves as a critical community based solution in the revitalization and restoration of economic stability, holistic health, and social needs for residents east of the river in Washington, D.C.

Inspired by the cooperative economics of small local markets while participating in a teaching program in Ghana, Mary Blackford, Founder of Market 7, brings together several entrepreneurs in the DC area to solve some of the most grueling challenges facing communities east of the river. Over the last three years, Market 7 hosted dozens of community market pop-ups with the help of 60 Black-owned small businesses that include local urban farmers, packaged food providers, sustainable goods makers, and home essential merchants. As a result, the initiative has been well-received and is currently seeking opportunities for growth and expansion to extend its efforts in their new commercial space.


Market 7 will be opening their new food hall in 2021 within the new Benning Market building at 3451 Benning Road NE, Washington, DC. The project broke ground in December 2019, and anticipates a very successful opening in the new year. This year, Market 7 continues to raise funds for building development and its affiliated programs including business development training for small businesses, culture food tourism programs, and health & nutrition courses for residents in Ward 7. Also this year, Market 7 has partnered with Google’s Grow with Google Digital Coach program to help bring more technical training in online business marketing and operation tools in an effort to bridge the digital divide for entrepreneurs serving the Ward 7 community.


Market 7’s mission revolves around the populace at large, remaining heavily focused on the community’s needs and creating sustainable economic solutions utilizing local small businesses. This undertaking could not happen without the support of partners, community stakeholders, and those who stay dedicated to long term community improvement. Market 7 continues to offer many opportunities for involvement to include volunteer work, sponsorship platforms, and even by simply sharing Market 7’s vast work and upcoming events. Changing the landscape of Ward 7 takes a village and Market 7 embraces support from all dedicated to impactful advancements and eliminating food deserts.

To support Market 7 in the Essence + Pine Sol competition, please visit before July 1 to submit your vote. For information on Market 7’s sponsorship,  engagement opportunities, or other inquiries, please email [email protected].  To follow the development of Market 7 at Benning Market please visit @market7dc on Twitter or Instagram for updates.

Founder’s Bio

Mary Blackford is a Washington, DC resident and graduate of Babson College with a B.S. in Business Management. She has over 10 years of experience in social entrepreneurship and finance, mastering her leadership skills in supporting micro-lending, small business development, food systems, and community advocacy.”

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