People’s Grocery — Healthy Food for Everyone

People's Grocery LogoI learned of People’s Grocery when executive director, Nikki Henderson, spoke during the 2012 Bioneers Conference. Nikki struck me as one of those rare people who are truly beautiful inside and out. She shared her background growing up eating healthy food and talked about food justice issues in a heartfelt and sometimes humorous way. The audience was spellbound. After listening to Nikki, I was inspired to learn about the People’s Grocery organization.

People’s Grocery, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2002 to promote healthy local food and urban agriculture in West Oakland, California. The People’s Grocery model integrates sustainable agriculture, development of local food businesses, and education. Community involvement, networking, partnerships, and youth and adult leadership development are important facets of the organization’s philosophy and success.

People’s Grocery views itself as a health and wealth organization with a mission:

“to improve the health and economy of West Oakland through the local food system”

People’s Grocery fulfills their mission via a growing number of programs and projects.

Urban Agriculture

People's Grocery California Hotel Garden and GreenhouseThe interestingly named California Hotel is a low-income housing development in West Oakland and home to the California Hotel Garden and Greenhouse program which provides opportunities for residents to participate in growing food and plants for sale, as well as community development.

Grub Box

The Grub Box, collectively run by  People’s Grocery and Dig Deep Farms & Produce, is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that provides subscribers with fresh seasonal produce.

Wholesale Hookup

Community members can save money by buying food in bulk or by the case through the Wholesale Hookup program.

Growing Justice Institute

By providing technical assistance and training, the Growing Justice Institute supports food security projects intended to generate revenue and build the local food system from catering companies to cooking classes.


An allyship is a quarterly volunteer position for people interested in gaining hands-on experience in urban farming and food justice.

Alliance for Oakland’s Food Systems

People’s Grocery facilitates a team of leaders from labor, policy, and environmental justice organizations whose goal is to standardize living wage, local hire, and healthy food options in food retail across the City of Oakland.

Cooking, Health, and Nutrition Education

  • The Community Health and Nutrition DemonstratorS (HANDS) program offers cooking and nutrition demonstrations at hospitals, schools, public events, and other community-based gatherings.
  • People's Grocery VolunteersGet Cooking! is a series of cooking classes to help people learn cooking skills and recipes to address health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Flavas of the Garden is a series of workshops where attendees can learn things like how to make their own hot sauce or build a raised garden bed.
  • In partnership with Oakland’s Highland Hospital, People’s Grocery helps families with children at risk for childhood obesity and related conditions learn and practice healthy cooking and eating.
  • Under the Edible Education umbrella, lecturers share their expertise on a wide variety of topics such as organic agriculture, school lunch reform, hunger and food security, and local food economies.

People’s Grocery Website

Visitors to the People’s Grocery website will find information about programs and projects, news, a blog, ways to participate or donate, and a resources section with links to numerous topics. I flagged the North African Chicken Stew recipe to try and my spouse loves anything with kale in it. For further reading I bookmarked the Anti-Oppression Training and Articles and Publications pages.

A People’s Grocery video created by students at St. Mary’s College provides an excellent overview of People’s Grocery and what it means to the local community.

People’s Community Market

People’s Community Market is a full-service for profit grocery store project in the funding phase that will bring healthy and affordable food to the people of West Oakland. People’s Grocery developed and advocated the project, and then spun it off in 2010.

What is Food Justice?

Youth Food Justice Action in Oakland, CAFood justice means providing all people with access to good food. It is putting control of food production in the hands of the people who eat it, and creating local jobs and businesses. It means identifying root causes for why current food systems leave some people and communities under served and then doing something about it.

What is Food Security?

Food Security is commonly defined by the World Health Organization as “including both physical and economic access to food that meets people’s dietary needs as well as their food preferences”.


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Community Supported Agriculture — Good for Farmers, Good for You

CSA Organic FarmCommunity Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a risk sharing arrangement between community members and local farmers. CSA members provide capital up front and in return receive fresh, local produce from the farmer at harvest time. If the harvest is poor, CSA members receive less, lower quality, or possibly no produce. Therein lies the risk.

Online sources say Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) began in the 1960s as a response to concerns about food safety and industrialization of food production. Chances are that Community Supported Agriculture has been practiced in one form or another during the 10,000 years humans have been cultivating crops and raising livestock.

What are the Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture?

Members have an opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with the farmer providing the food they eat and support local businesses. Farmers in turn have an opportunity to develop loyal customers, simplify distribution, and obtain some capital up front to help with planting and operating the farm. Other benefits include:

  • Local pick up or delivery means produce is fresh and less fossil fuel is used for transportation.
  • CSA Produce ShareProduce is often grown organically.
  • Members have an opportunity to try new items they may not typically purchase at the grocery market.
  • CSAs may require or invite members to volunteer on the farm which gives members a chance to learn about where their food comes from and get their hands dirty.
  • Some CSAs provide education and fun via newsletters, websites, recipes, cooking classes, harvest parties, and other events.

How Does Community Supported Agriculture Work?

The 1960s CSA model is still around today and other models and practices continue to spring up. Sometimes farms use CSA shares as just one method of marketing their products and may also sell at farmer’s markets, through co-ops, or retail outlets.

  • Farm – CSAs are often associated with a single farm but in some cases several farms will collaborate on a CSA program.
  • Membership / Share Model – members purchase a share of a season’s harvest and then receive produce as it ripens throughout the season.
  • Box Model – members pay up front and receive a box of produce with somewhere around 7-14 items or enough to feed 2 or 4 people.
  • Payment – membership / share models usually require full payment up front. Box models require payment in advance of delivery but generally allow members to pay by week or month, and members are not committed to an entire season.
  • Selection – generally the farmer chooses what to put in the share or box based on what is ripe and ready to be picked.
  • Distribution – distribution is typically weekly or bi-weekly. Members may pick up at the farm, neighborhood drop-off sites, and sometimes at farmer’s markets. Some CSA Organic Egg Add OnCSAs offer door-to-door delivery.
  • Optional Items – some CSAs offer optional add-ons like additional shares of a certain type of produce or things like eggs, bread, milk, meat or flowers.

Side Bar

While I was conducting online research, I ran across a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted website called Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) which provided information and resources for Community Supported Agriculture. Hmm…why is Community Supported Agriculture considered alternative farming? I would think industrialized farming would be considered alternative farming.

CSA Organic StrawberriesAre you a Community Supported Agriculture member? If not, locate a local  farmer in your area offering a Community Supported Agriculture program and try it out. You could soon be enjoying delicious and healthy, fresh picked, seasonal produce while getting to know and support a local farmer.