Starting an event during a health crisis may sound risky, but Phoenix resident Jorge Mejia wanted to find a way to help small businesses that are struggling during the pandemic.
Thus, Cultivo was born, joining a small number of outdoor mercados in Phoenix spearheaded by people in the Latino community.
Mejia, who’s Salvadoran American, said Cultivo branched out from his Instagram page, @Phxknows. Maybe half the photos on there are pupusas and tacos, he joked.
He started Cultivo because talking about food on Instagram didn’t seem like enough. Cultivo is intended create a comfortable space for people of color, as well as an opportunity for micro businesses to generate revenue during COVID-19 times, Mejia said.
For safety, masks are required for vendors and shoppers, he added.
Like other pop-ups, such as AZ Mujeres Mercado and the South Central Mercado, Cultivo isn’t exclusive to Latino vendors and customers. But Mejia said Cultivo is a place where people can show up knowing they won’t be the only Latinos there.
“I thought there was a lack of representation in Phoenix for the Latino community, especially the Salvadoran, Honduran, Puerto Rican, Dominican,” Mejia said. “There is so much of that now, there was a need for somebody to showcase that and talk about their culture, their food. It goes hand in hand and we wanted to be loud about it.”
Cultivo bills itself as an inclusive shopping experience to support local Latinx small businesses, with pop-ups in Phoenix, Tolleson and Tucson. Past vendors have included La Jefa’s Munchies with candied apples, Bibi’s Kitchen with Salvadoran food and PoNy’s with micheladas.
Details:www.cultivo.network and instagram.com/cultivomercado.
Kari Rosas, the creator of Butter Lotion, gives a sample of beard oil to Max Maquez at Cultivo. Jorge Mejia, the founder of Cultivo, wanted to create a space for Latino businesses during the pandemic that wouldn’t have a platform otherwise. (Photo: Meg Potter/The Republic)
AZ Mujeres Mercado
AZ Mujeres Mercado is hosted by the organization E.L.L.A., Empowering Latina Leaders in Arizona. The pop-up market showcases women-owned businesses, which in the past have included My Comadre’s Kitchen, known for its strawberry crumble and banana cream cupcakes, and Yuri’s Postres, which offers a variety of conchas and pan dulces.
South Central Mercado
South Central Mercado is located off Central Avenue, not far from South Mountain Community Center. The multicultural, outdoor marketplace is meant to connect and empower local artists and entrepreneurs in the south Phoenix community, according to its Facebook page. Vendors have included J’s Trail Mix with chamoy-covered trail mix and Sabor a Mi with birria tacos.
Details: 6427 S. Central Ave., Phoenix. facebook.com/southcentralmercado.
More to explore: How a family grew Phoenix’s Salvadoran food scene
Reach the reporter at [email protected] Follow @priscillatotiya on Twitter and Instagram.
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