Akoma Outdoor Market
Liberation Park, 7101 Foothill Blvd. (at 73rd Avenue), Oakland
Akoma Outdoor Market is a farmers market in deep East Oakland that features local Black and brown-owned farm stands, food vendors and other small businesses.
Created through a partnership between the Black Cultural Zone, a nonprofit promoting Black cultural traditions, arts and local businesses in East Oakland, and the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, Akoma launched last September, running on the first Sunday of every month. Since February, Akoma Outdoor Market became a bi-monthly event, now taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., first and third Sundays. (In May through October, Akoma Market will transition to a weekly Sunday event before returning to its first Sunday schedule in November and December.) The next event is this Sunday, April 4.
Along with food vendors, there are book and clothing sellers, a wine lounge, music and a big field featuring activities for kids. Many of the vendors who sell at Akoma Market are new businesses, and the Black Cultural Zone strives to support to them, not only by giving them a space at the market, but providing access to business resources, such as help getting permits and licenses. BCZ also works to ensure the success of legacy businesses, providing them with free stands. (Read more about the Black Cultural Zone’s mission in the Oaklandside’s interview with BCZ CEO Carolyn Johnson and economic development manager Ndidi Okwelogu.)
On a recent Sunday afternoon, we met a few of Akoma’s farm stand and food vendors, and learned about what they offer:
Jamil Burns’ Oakland-based farming company, Raised Roots, grows crops in vacant lots and urban spaces across Alameda County, including at Oakland’s Castlemont High School and in Livermore. Along with a bounty of seasonal vegetables and herbs, Raised Roots also produces olive oil. Up until last October, Raised Roots was harvesting its produce almost exclusively by hand — it’s currently fundraising via GoFundMe to purchase farm equipment.
The Deep Grocery Cooperative
The worker-owners of The DEEP Grocery Co-op (Deep East Oakland Empowering the People) started the out of a commitment to make fresh, culturally relevant and organic produce and pantry items accessible to East Oakland residents. Along with providing more fresh and healthy food, The DEEP Grocery Co-op is committed to deepening the economic resilience in marginalized communities by hiring and sourcing from people with deep ties to East Oakland. While the co-op secures a location for its brick and mortar store, it’s launching an online shop on April 7.
The Damel food truck
Chef Oumar Diouf’s popular food truck is a regular at Akoma Market. (The Damel also has a brick-and-mortar location in Uptown Oakland.) Customers enjoy Diouf’s Afro-Brazilian specialties like acarajé (black eye pea fitters), coxinhas (Brazilian croquettes), empanadas and dibi (Senagalese grilled meat) plates and sandwiches.
The Lemonade Bar
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 with organic local produce, and their unique frozen lemonade is like a fruit sorbet, best eaten with a spoon. The Lemonade Bar has been at Akoma Market since its inception.
Chef LaLa Harrison’s JusLa Eats specializes in Cajun and Southern soul food. JusLa Eat’s most popular item is its spicy chicken sandwich featuring buttermilk fried chicken and house hot sauce. Along with appearances at Akoma Market, you can find JusLa Eats at Palmetto in Uptown Oakland until Harrison is able to move into her own dedicated space. JusLa Eats is currently fundraising to move into the former Hog’s Apothecary/Magpie space on 40th Street.
Sol Root Farmers Collective
Sol Root Farmers Collective was founded in 2018, and offers organically grown vegetables, seeds, plant starts, dried herbs and apothecary goods that members harvest at their farm in Sunol. When we stopped by Sol Root’s Akoma Market stand, members Nadia Perez and Courtney Gonzales were offering colorful dried maize, calendula and ashwagandha, along with other botanical products.
Nicole Felix started Pound Bizness with her partner Reggie Borders. Their signature poundcake is based on Border’s family recipe. Their best selling flavor is lemon and they also offer a variety of tropical flavors, like Pineapple Coconut and Banana Rum.
Oakland artist Binta Ayofemi is one of the Black Cultural Zone partners who helped create Akoma Outdoor Market. A few years ago, Ayofemi founded a similar project called the Black and Brown Market, and her growing body of multi-disciplinary artwork is dedicated to creating space and opportunities for the Black community and experience. For the last couple of years, she’s been working on Ground, a series of concurrent and connected projects dedicated to activating Black makers and entrepreneurs and reclaiming vacant and disused spaces throughout Oakland.
Ayofemi’s stand at Akoma Market, Soul, is one such project under Ground. It sells juices, prepared meals and fresh produce grown at yet another Ground project, Restoration, an emerging urban farm in deep East Oakland. Soul offers curated farm boxes, which help fund Restoration, where Ayofemi aims to open a farmstand and cornerstore.
Akoma Outdoor Market takes place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., first and third Sundays. From May through October, the market will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m., every Sunday; in November and December, it will transition to 10 a.m.-3 p.m., first Sundays.