Here is how New York-based Black Seed Brothers is solving the health food needs of several communities

BY Ben Ebuka Oji February 14, 2024 10:40 AM EDT
Four of the Black Seed Brothers at the stand on Lenox Avenue and 139th Street
Four of the Black Seed Brothers at the stand on Lenox Avenue and 139th Street. Photo Credit: Black Seed Brothers/Health Station

Black Seed Brothers, a fruit company based in New York City, was founded in response to the scarcity of a particular watermelon variety that is predominantly unavailable in the market. But these days, in addition to watermelons, the company has integrated a range of other food products made from natural ingredients to cater to the health requirements of the Harlem community in New York and its neighboring areas.

In 2018, Tyrell Dixon and Kiana Miles established Health Station, which has expanded to include other Black brothers, forming a cohesive team known as Black Seed Brothers. The idea began when they observed the limited availability of healthier options within the urban community.

“The idea came about when we noticed the lack of healthier options within the urban community. We started off selling fresh black-seeded organic watermelon (which we still currently sell) during the summer.”

They started by selling farm-fresh watermelons with black seeds, making daily journeys of up to 16 hours to procure freshly harvested watermelons directly from farms in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

“Our mission is to influence people to eat nutritious food so that they can take better care of their bodies, as well as elevate the community through health, wellness, and empowerment.”

The team, comprising blood relatives and close companions, transports approximately 1,000 recently harvested melons each week from the agricultural lands of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. In contrast to the prevalent seedless hybrid type found in most grocery stores, their melons possess a traditional charm, adorned with black seeds scattered throughout the succulent flesh. According to some people, the seeded variety offers a heightened flavor profile and a more pleasing texture.

“Real black seeds from the dirt,” says Johann, one of the brothers, to The Curious Uptowner, explaining that folks come from all over the city to buy their watermelons, both red and yellow.

“When you see the black seeds, you know they’re the original,” Adds Tyrell Dixon, another member of the group.

According to the team, the seeded watermelon season concluded in January 2024 and will resume in April 2024. Additionally, yellow watermelons will be out of season until late May or early June.

Over time, the team has broadened its offerings to meet the locals’ cravings, including fruit bowls, smoothies, juices, salads, and paninis. Subsequently, they further diversified their menu to encompass fruit and yogurt parfaits, wraps, grilled chicken platters, lemon ginger shots, soursop shots, living bitter shots, and more.

“We want to ensure that we are providing our community with the freshest ingredients possible.”

The team frequently engages with customers regarding the scarcity of fresh fruits and vegetables in the community. Thanks to their efforts, locals and residents in the neighboring areas no longer need to travel far to access their preferred meals.

“We felt we needed to do something to bring this food dessert to our customers. Thanks to our business, people shouldn’t have to walk or drive far just to get a smoothie, a good salad, or a fresh bowl of fruit. Additionally, we support ordering platforms, such as Uber Eats.”

Black Seed Brothers/Health Station Food Truck
Black Seed Brothers/Health Station Food Truck: Photo Credit: Health Station

Today, they have evolved into a premier healthy natural food enterprise, offering products exclusively crafted from natural ingredients. The Black Seed Brothers’ stand on the northeast corner of Lenox Avenue and 139th Street operates around the clock, seven days a week. Additionally, they have integrated a food truck to enhance accessibility for customers and are in the process of establishing Health Station branches across various neighborhoods.

“Our food truck in Harlem, New York features products that are made from natural ingredients only. Not only do we offer excellent menus but we strive to give you solutions for more nutritious considerations. We hope to inspire you to make more conscious choices about the food that you eat.”

Community Consciousness

In addition to offering nutritious meals and generating profits, the team is actively making a difference by engaging meaningfully with individuals in the communities. They employ troubled youths from these communities, providing opportunities that may not be available elsewhere.

These sentiments were recently echoed by team member Tyrell Dixon during a petition campaign on Dixon stated: “Recently Health Station/ Black-Seed Brothers were targeted. We were told that an assembly person as well as the mayor’s office were sending people to our establishment to “shut us down.” We are here to bring health awareness to the community, we provide healthy fruits, vegetables, and much more to our community. We employ the youth, who are troubled and wouldn’t be given a second look by other organizations. We hire people from our community as well!!! Why would anyone want to shut us down. It’s very confusing, this seems like something personal and we just want to know why. We serviced our community through Covid, rain, sleet, hail, snow, we are outside making sure everyone gets the necessities needed for health.”

 He added: “We are providing health awareness to our community and to others as well. We provide black seeded watermelon in a daily basis(which is a super-food) tell us why would you want us gone off a corner that we have been providing health options to for almost ten years. Our staff is a mixed variety, of summer youth, credible messengers( who are certified by dept of health) ex-cons, troubled teens, and local members of our community. We are trying to improve our community through health we are also trying to improve the life of people who are and aren’t from our direct community.”