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Queens Market traders make documentary to promote healthy eating

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 December 2018

Bright Yeboah and Alexci Nunes. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

Bright Yeboah and Alexci Nunes. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

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A group of unlikely market traders are filming a documentary to promote their fruit and vegetable stall in Queens Market.

Jeffrey Campbell, Reginald Branche, Bright Yeboah, and Alexci Nunes. Picture: Tilly ArmstrongJeffrey Campbell, Reginald Branche, Bright Yeboah, and Alexci Nunes. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

Jeffrey Campbell and six of his friends took over Uncle Raph’s Tropical Fruit & Veg at Christmas two years ago, when the previous owner, known to them as Mr Pierre, retired.

The group, who were all aged between 25 and 28 at the time, learnt a lot about healthy eating from Mr Pierre during his 34 years of trading, and wanted to continue the legacy.

“A friend of mine ran the business next to him,” the 29-year-old, from Custom House, said.

“We were a group of friends who didn’t have a business between us, who’d learnt entrepreneurship from our parents, and wanted to do something positive in the community. There’s a lot Mr Pierre taught us and we wanted to share that.”

The traders were having a documentary made about their work promoting healthy eating in Newham. Picture: Tilly ArmstrongThe traders were having a documentary made about their work promoting healthy eating in Newham. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

Mr Pierre taught Jeffrey about healthy eating, the unique benefits of the various fruit and veg, and also, the importance of caring for the elderly.

“With our stall we have a huge age range, from 16 to 74, and he taught us that with healthy eating you can grow old gracefully,” he said.

“Young people in the area are sometimes described as not being the best. We wanted to continue some of the values that he established.”

The group run the stall in shifts, in between their regular jobs. Jeffrey, who’s an exams officer, said none of them had any prior experience of market trading.

Bright Yeboah and Jeffrey Campbell. Picture: Tilly ArmstrongBright Yeboah and Jeffrey Campbell. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

A huge aim for them, he said, was reversing the balance between fast food and healthy food in the borough.

“There’s not enough options for healthy food in Newham,” he said.

“With the market we hope it’s something young people will be interested in. We’re trying to bring more life into the market. It’s way too easy to get fast food.”

In a bid to change the demographic, and bring in less traditional foods, the group set up an Instagram page, which has more than 1,000 followers, and are trying to diversify their offering. The fruit and veg, which comes from South America, Africa and the Caribbean, includes everything from dragonfruit to dasheens.

The stall sells fruit and veg from South America, The Carribean and Africa. Picture: Tilly ArmstrongThe stall sells fruit and veg from South America, The Carribean and Africa. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

They’ve even started taking the stall on the road, with their most recent venture being a trip to We Work’s offices in Old Street. The documentary, they hope, will showcase the progress they’ve made in the past two years.

To find out more, visit instagram.com/uncleraphstropicalfruitveg.

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