Freedom Farmers’ Market

Empowering Minorities and Low-Income Families

The Freedom Farmers Market is “Alameda County's first certified Black farmers' market.” [1] The market offers a lively and welcoming environment for young people and families. As visitors survey the many vendors, they will often hear jazz, blues, or R&B music.

In 2013, the nonprofit organization Farms to Grow, Inc. (FTG) established the Freedom Farmers’ Market. Originally, Kenneth Shandy, the owner of Brother's Kitchen, allowed the market to assemble in his restaurant's parking lot. To ensure that the market would expand and thrive, the staff needed to obtain increased funds. So, they threw fundraising parities and encouraged members of the community to volunteer, donate, and preorder produce. In 2014, after the market obtained enough capital, it moved to its current location at 5316 Telegraph Ave. Dr. Gail Myers, co-founder of FTG, chose the market's name as an allusion to Fannie Lou Hamer's Freedom Farm Cooperative of Sunflower County, which she founded in 1969 to give African Americans increased economic mobility and access to food.

Because the market is a cooperative, the staff is able to ensure that the profits are invested in the community. The market was created to “bring traditional legacy foods from Black farmers and other [underserved] sustainable farmers into Oakland . . . [while promoting] cooperative community development . . . and healthy sustainable environments for all.” [2] The market partners with local farms such as “Scott Family Farms, African American Farm Association, Fresno, Kelley Farms, Sacramento, Schletewitz Farms, Watsonville, [and] Communities United Restoring Mother Earth (CURME) urban farm, Richmond.” [3] As such, the Freedom Farmers’ Market is committed to providing produce that is local, affordable, and accessible to low-income individuals. To that end, the market even offers free bread.

The Freedom Farmers’ Market is passionate about offering produce that is fresh, organic, and pesticide free. The market is open every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. In addition to organic produce, the market provides culturally relevant activities. For example, the market organizes workshops that teach participants how to create healthier versions of traditional soul food recipes.

Also, the Freedom Farmers’ Market provides cultural activities. This year, from August 8th to September 19th, the staff offered free cooking classes. And on November 21st, the market held a block party with music, dancing, and a poetry reading. In this way, the Freedom Farmers’ Market epitomizes Oakland residents’ ingenuity and dedication to creating culturally relevant organizations that empower minorities and low-income families.

Cite this Page:

Zenzele Olatunji, “Freedom Farmers’ Market ,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/110.
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