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Mandela Market Place: Urban Food And Community Initiative in Oakland

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 3rd, 2011

Source: Mandela Marketplace via this article on Sustainable Cities Collective


The WYSE Team delivers fresh food to the sales point at the local bottle shop.

Mandela Marketplace is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with local residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to improve health, create wealth, and build assets through cooperative food enterprises in low income communities.  Mandela Marketplace uses a community-driven economic framework to improve health, create wealth and build assets in low-income communities. The organization evolved since 2001, first as a project of the Environmental Justice Institute – Tides Center, until incorporating in 2005 as a stand-alone 501c3 organization. Mandela Marketplace innovates the assessment, development, and application of a community food system economy that strengthens community health, integrity and identity through economic opportunity and empowerment for inner-city Oakland residents and businesses, and local family farms.

Projects Include:

  • Mandela Foods Cooperative: A worker- and community-owned retail grocery store and nutrition education center in West Oakland that addresses economic empowerment and community health. It offers fresh, affordable produce from local family farms, food preparation classes and healthy prepared foods, as well as profit sharing with the community through community-investment accounts.
  • West Oakland Youth Standing Empowered (WYSE): An afterschool program with a mission to teach leadership skills to youth and young adults. WYSE’s goal to advocate for healthy communities focuses on the built environment and food security through projects like: Healthy Neighborhood Stores Alliance, Burbank Garden, and WYSE Streets.
  • Healthy Neighborhood Stores Alliance (HNSA): An alliance between store owners, community members and Mandela MarketPlace that works to improve community physical and environmental health by not only improving the affordability and quality of produce in convenience stores, but also by improving the store environment and its relationship in the community.
  • Family Farmers: Mandela Foods and Mandela MarketPlace have a strong commitment to local, under-resourced and minority producers. We have long-term working relationships with farmers who use sustainable farming practices from Bakersfield, Fresno, Dinuba, Watsonville, Salinas, Gilroy, Livingston and Modesto. Our Produce Distribution Center supports small, local farms by establishing a local, alternative distribution network that passes on wholesale prices to networks of neighborhood stores and other community based businesses.
  • Senior Market Booths: Mandela Marketplace operates weekly fresh produce market booths at area Senior Centers and residential facilities. Seniors are able to purchase farm fresh produce and wholesome basic staples at affordable prices in a convenient, friendly, and helpful atmosphere.
  • Burbank Garden East Oakland: Early in 2009 we met a man by the name of Bill Richie, who worked for the city of Oakland. He had been left in charge of the sprawling Burbank Garden. Bill offered WYSE the opportunity to revitalize the garden and reconnect the school and community to the garden. Our goal is to renovate the garden and grow pesticide-free produce there. We plan to organize the community around self-sustainability by growing food locally with their own resources and those available through Mandela MarketPlace.
  • Building Blocks Collaborative: The Building Blocks Collaborative (BBC) is a partnership of multi-sector community organizations in Alameda County. We are developing a blueprint to improve community conditions in order to support the well-being of our children, starting from the earliest stages of life.
At the USSF2010, Mandela Marketplace’s Quinton Sankofa and James Berk of Mandela Foods Cooperative presented to a workshop hosted by Permaculture.coop called Pathways to Sustainable Self-Governance.  Check out these videos to find out more.

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