Hey, it's Yasmin Young and I'm teaming up with Hennessy to highlight black-owned businesses right here in Buffalo and Western New York as part of the Hennessy Sable Series.

For the inaugural edition, I talked to Alex Wright, founder of African Heritage Food Co-Op and Blegacy Farms. He does some amazing things in the community and is really tackling something that is so important to life itself, which is food! Fresh food, in particular.

Check out some of the conversation I had with Alex below:

Yasmin: Let's talk about how you even got started in this. What inspired you to start the African Heritage Food Co-Op?

Alex: I wanted to do something in the community that would be self-sufficient. I've spent a lot of time in non-profits and I think our non-profit model is solid but for the next level of attacking poverty we need to have businesses in our community that are self-sufficient, hire people in the community, and serve the people in the community.

That's where the idea of the co-op came from. It's something that people can own and operate themselves, we can hire ourselves in it, and the reason we started with food is because food is something that: 1. we all need and 2. the biggest killers of African Americans in our community and poor folks in all communities is the inability to eat and eat well and eat properly.

I figured if we did a business that was around food and controlled by the people that shop there, it's something that will live a lot longer than me.

For folks who didn't catch our previous interview about Blegacy Farms, talk a little bit about that. 

We spent about a half a million dollars in procuring produce in the last four years and none of that money went to many people that look like us. I wanted to change that and give people an opportunity to give back to the land that was lost to us and stolen from us.

So I bought 22 acres out in Franklinville and we're leasing now at 10,000 square feet at $500 per month. That ends up being 50 cents per square foot and after leasing for five years you can buy the property outright for you and your family.

We just want to give people the opportunity to give back to soil, to grow, and we have to buy produce anyway, so if we can get some folks from the community to come out and grow, we'll buy the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you grow out there.

If people want to support the African Heritage Food Co-Op or if they're interested in Blegacy Farms, where can they get more information? 

For the African Heritage Food Co-Op, they can go to myahfc.com and for Blegacy Farms you can go to blegacyfarms.com.