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Smiling Black woman farmer with natural hair holding a bunch of onions


Hartford is a food desert - an area characterized by a lack of access to grocery stores. Mercado Popular’s founder, Jocelyn Cerda, is a Hartford native who knows exactly how that lack of access affects nutrition.​

“Growing up, I would go with my siblings to the corner bodega after school and spend $2 on chips and candy, which we’d eat for dinner. The healthier options weren't available.” Cerda recalls.​ Food deserts are commonly found in low-income areas, and studies found that the lack of fresh food available in smaller stores, as well as the high cost of those items, deters people from eating healthier food choices. ​Jocelyn’s lack of access to healthier food options caused her to set out on a mission to find ways to improve her health and found the healing benefits of food.  Jocelyn's involvement with area farmers markets, coupled with the knowledge shared with her by farmers, gave her the access to learn how to grow her own food.​

Mercado Popular got its start as a winter pop up farm market in 2020 and 2021. We first occupied a vacant storefront in Hartford, infusing life into the neighborhood. The second took place at the Hartford Public Library.​In addition to supplying fresh produce and high-quality local foods, we provided workshops designed to educate people about growing and making their own food as well as the health benefits of certain products. Each of these markets lasted 3 hours and brought in revenue for area farmers while successfully bringing under-resourced community members to a shared space that centers health and supporting small local businesses. 


Mercado Popular is a community organization committed to reducing food apartheid in the Hartford Community and increasing food sovereignty by bringing fresh, healthy, local food into the city. ​Mercado Popular is an equitable solution to barriers to healthful, affordable food while empowering under-resourced communities and providing farmers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color with access to space.


Mercado Popular highlights producers who are people of color by sharing space and resources that are not typically available to this demographic. ​We source food directly from small farm businesses. From seed to sale, Mercado Popular supports a variety of local Connecticut farmers, especially farmers of color, by purchasing their products and selling them via our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. This structure helps farmers be sustainable all year round. ​Mercado Popular is also a space where education around natural foods inspires a community that experiences food insecurity while sharing space for farmers to be recognized as leaders in our food landscape. This results in farmers growing their businesses and provides access to healthful foods. 

Jocelyn Cerda

Mercado Popular Founder

Jocelyn Cerda is a life-long member of the Hartford community whose personal journey led her to find ways to help others connect and share their knowledge of health and nutrition.  Jocelyn's experience caused her to reflect on her relationship with food and find ways to heal. She has been working with small farmer businesses and managing and creating pop-up farmers' markets in urban areas for over six years. 

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