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

Market 7 is a community marketplace that featured several Black-owned businesses to alleviate food and retail deserts in D.C.’s notoriously underserved Ward 7. They recently just announced that they are 1 of 3 semi-finalists in the nationwide Essence + Pine Sol’s Build Your Legacy Grant Competition. The contest will provide one Black woman-owned business with a grant of $100,000. The contest ends on July 1.

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


Market 7 provides Black-owned businesses a sustainable platform for vendors to sell fresh produce and other durable 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 D.C. 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 essential home 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.



For information on Market 7’s sponsorship, engagement opportunities, or other inquiries, please email To follow the development of Market 7 at Benning Market, please visit @market7dc on Twitter or Instagram for updates.

About The Founder

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


To support Market 7 in the Essence + Pine-Sol competition, please visit before July 1 to submit your vote.


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