Much has been written about West Oakland’s status as a so-called “food desert,” and the good, community-minded folks who are working to bring healthy, fresh food options to a neighborhood where they aren’t plentiful presently. The latest such project is the Freedom Farmers Market, a weekly Saturday farmers’ market slated to debut in West Oakland, in the parking lot of the Brothers Kitchen soul food restaurant at 3000 San Pablo Ave., on August 31.
The market is the brainchild of Kenneth Shandy (owner of Brothers Kitchen), Michele Lee (of the Crossroads Collective Cafe), and Gail Myers, who co-founded Farms to Grow, an organization that provides resources and distribution channels for African-American farmers — farms based in the Fresno, Sacramento, and Capay valleys that use sustainable agricultural practices.
- Gail Myers and Kenneth Shandy
These farmers will comprise the majority of the seven to ten vendors who will sell at the market to start, Myers explained. Other goals include stimulating the local economy and educating the local community about nutrition and cooking.
“We want to make this area a beacon of hope for the community,” Myers said, adding, “This is about self determination and self empowerment. It’s not a charity market.”
A smaller-scale Wednesday afternoon farmstand has been open in the Brothers Kitchen parking lot since last month. In the meantime, the Freedom Farmers Market organizers have launched an Indiegogo campaign
to raise $7,000 to help get the Saturday market off the ground. The money will pay for — among other things — banners for each farmer, tents, tables, and a small on-site storage facility, Myers said.
This Wednesday, July 31, the market’s organizers are hosting a fundraising party
to kick off the crowdfunding campaign. The farm stand will be open, as usual, from 2 to 6 p.m., but starting at around 3 o’clock there will be tacos served by Hot Bike
(a San Francisco-based mobile taco kitchen), a solar oven cooking demo, a raffle, and live music. Proceeds will benefit the Freedom Farmers Market.
For more information about the project — or to make a contribution — visit the Indiegogo campaign page