Akoma Market brings justice, wellness, and advantageous eating to Deep East Oakland

Jamil Burns, owner of Oaklands Raised Roots, has a courtyard stall at Akoma Outdoor Market. All photos by Andria Lo.

Akoma Outdoor Market
Liberation Park, 7101 Foothill Blvd. (on 73rd Avenue), Oakland

Akoma Outdoor Market is a Deep East Oakland farmers market that features local black and brown farm stalls, food vendors, and other small businesses.

Akoma was founded through a partnership between the Black Cultural Zone, a nonprofit promoting black cultural traditions, art, and local businesses in East Oakland, and the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, and kicked off the first Sunday of every month last September. The Akoma Outdoor Market has been a bimonthly event since February, which now takes place on the first and third Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (From May to October, Akoma Market switches to a weekly Sunday event before reverting to its first Sunday schedule in November and December.) The next event will be this Sunday, April 4th.

In addition to food vendors, there are book and clothing vendors, a wine lounge, music, and a large field of activities for children. Many of the vendors selling on Akoma Market are new businesses and the Black Cultural Zone is eager to support them by not only giving them a place in the market but also providing them with access to business resources such as: B. Help with obtaining permits and licenses. BCZ is also working to ensure the success of old companies and to provide them with free stands. (Read more about the Black Cultural Zone’s mission in the Oaklandside interview with BCZ CEO Carolyn Johnson and Ndidi Okwelogu, Economic Development Manager.)

On a final Sunday afternoon we met some of Akoma’s court stalls and grocery sellers and learned what they offer:

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Raised roots

09_Akoma-Market_Raised-Roots_AndriaLo

Jamil Burns’ Oakland-based agricultural company, Raised Roots, grows crops on vacant lots and in urban areas across Alameda County, including Castlemont High School in Oakland and Livermore. In addition to an abundance of seasonal vegetables and herbs, Raised Roots also produces olive oil. Until last October, Raised Roots harvested its products almost entirely by hand – currently, donations are being collected through GoFundMe to buy farm equipment.

The Deep Grocery Cooperative

07_Akoma-Market_DEEP-Grocery_AndriaLoFrom left Jameelah Lane, Daniel Harris-Lucas, Yolanda Romo and Erin Higginbotham, worker-owners of DEEP Grocery.

The worker-owners of the DEEP Grocery Co-op (Deep East Oakland Empowering the People) began with a commitment to bring fresh, culturally relevant, organic produce and supplies to East Oakland residents. In addition to providing more fresh and healthy food, the DEEP Grocery Co-op is committed to building economic resilience in marginalized communities by hiring and sourcing people closely associated with East Oakland. While the cooperative is securing a location for its stationary business, it is launching an online shop on April 7th.

08_Akoma-Market_DEEP-Grocery_spices_AndriaLoBagged organic spices, amaranth and cocoa powder at the Akoma Market booth of the DEEP Grocery Cooperative.

The Damel Food Truck

11_Akoma-Market_The-Damel_AndriaLoThe Damel Food Truck offers Afro-Brazilian dishes at the Akoma Market.

Chef Oumar Diouf’s popular food truck is a regular at Akoma Market. (The Damel also has a stationary location in Uptown Oakland.) Customers enjoy Diouf’s Afro-Brazilian specialties such as acarajé (pea farmer with black eyes), coxinhas (Brazilian croquettes), empanadas and dibi (Senagales grilled meat) and sandwiches.

The lemonade bar

Owner Imani Glover (right) with son Kwame. The Lemonade Bar is one of Akoma Market’s original vendors.

Imani Glover and her son Kwame sell their handmade fresh and frozen lemonades in a variety of flavors – including cherry, strawberry, mango, pineapple and peach. All products are made from local organic produce and their unique frozen lemonade is like a fruit sorbet that is best eaten with a spoon. The Lemonade Bar has been on Akoma Market since its inception.

15_Cry Market_Lemonade-Bar_AndriaLoThe Lemonade Bar offers fresh bottled lemonade and their unique frozen lemonade.

JusLa eats

17_Akoma-Market_JusLa-Eats_AndriaLoChef Lala Harrison prepares a spicy chicken sandwich with the help of JusLa Eats staff.

JusLa Eats by head chef LaLa Harrison specializes in Cajun and southern soul food. The most popular product from JusLa Eat is the spicy chicken sandwich with fried chicken made from buttermilk and spicy house sauce. In addition to performing at Akoma Market, you’ll find JusLa Eats at Palmetto in Uptown Oakland until Harrison can move into her own space. JusLa Eats is currently raising funds to move to the former Hog’s Apothecary / Magpie area on 40th Street.

16_Akoma-Market_JusLa-Eats_AndriaLoJusLas Spicy Chicken Sandwich offers fried chicken with buttermilk, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and spicy house sauce with a side dish of french fries.

Sol Root Farmers collective

Soul Root Farmers collective members Nadia Perez and Courtney Gonzales.

Founded in 2018, Sol Root Farmers Collective offers organically grown vegetables, seeds, plant starts, dried herbs and pharmacy supplies that members harvest on their farm in Sunol. When we passed the Sol Root Akoma Market booth, members Nadia Perez and Courtney Gonzales were selling colorful dried corn, marigolds, and ashwagandha among other botanical products.

03_Akoma-Market_Sol-Root_AndriaLoSol Root sells herbal wellness products and other botanical products at its Akoma booth.

Pound business

12_Akoma-Market_PoundBizness_AndriaLoNicole Felix, co-owner of Oakland-based back outfit Pound Bizness.

Nicole Felix started Pound Bizness with her partner Reggie Borders. Their signature pound cake is based on the Border family recipe. Their best-selling flavor is lemon and they also offer a variety of tropical flavors such as pineapple coconut and banana rum.

soul

Oakland artist Binta Ayofemi is one of the Black Cultural Zone partners who helped create the Akoma Outdoor Market. A few years ago, Ayofemi started a similar project called the Black and Brown Market. Their growing inventory of multidisciplinary artwork is dedicated to creating space and opportunity for the Black Community and experience. For the past several years she has worked on Ground, a series of simultaneous and interconnected projects dedicated to activating black doers and entrepreneurs and reclaiming empty and disused spaces across Oakland.

Ayofemi’s booth at Akoma Market, Soul, is one such underground project. It sells juices, ready meals and fresh produce grown on another Ground project, Restoration, an emerging urban farm in the deep east of Oakland. Soul offers curated farm boxes that can be used to fund the restoration. Ayofemi wants to open a farm stand and a corner shop.

The Akoma Outdoor Market takes place on the first and third Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. From May to October the market takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in November and December it will pass on the first Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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