As you may have noticed, the Crossroads Co-op Café and its vendors are no longer at 942 Stanford. A month ago, the new business, The Grease Box, began operating at 942 Stanford. We have also been notified that our sublease will not be renewed in January 2014. Our vendors, farmers, and programming are being displaced. We oppose and dispute what has happened. We are not associated, nor do we partner, with Grease Box.
What happened to the vendors at the market?
The vendors at the market who we are missing – Misako, Ikumi, and Machiko – were part of Phat Beets’ Kitchen Incubator Program. The goal of this program is to help low-resourced residents of the Oakland Flatlands start food businesses by providing access to a commercial kitchen, insurance, permits, etc. By connecting these small food entrepreneurs of color to the small farmers of color we work with, we hope to create an equitable food hub in North Oakland as well as economic self-sufficiency for Oakland residents. Future vendors and participants in the program have been put on hold due to not being able to access the kitchen for cooking, since the kitchen health permits were turned over to the Grease Box.
With the loss of their presence, the space has not only lost a great diversity of cuisine and culture, but a loss of economic opportunity for these great chefs, immigrants, and small food-entrepreneurs. In our eyes, the displacement of our vendors is part of the ongoing process of gentrification – where historic Oakland residents lose houses, jobs, and opportunities to newer, wealthier incoming residents with greater access to resources. Phat Beets has been clear about our position on gentrification, and we see this as a perfect example of how the struggle for food is linked to the struggle for justice.
How can I support the vendors and Phat Beets?
Phat Beets is a small community organization that puts Food Justice first. In order to prioritize our programming and the continuation of our work for small farmers and the North Oakland community, we are asking for support from our community in the following ways.
1. Talk. to your neighbors and our vendors. Ask questions! Let our vendors and farmers know you support them.
2. Spaces. We are currently looking for other spaces in the neighborhood to move our programs to – a commercial kitchen with potentially a cafe/restaurant, office and farmers’ market space. If you know of anything please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
3. Funding. We will also need funds and support to make this move in the next months. Donate your time and/or make a financial contribution to our work at http://www.phatbeetsproduce.org/get-involved/donate/
Please stay tuned as we go through this difficult period, and thanks so much for your continued support!
In Love and Struggle,
The Phat Beets Crew
From Misako, one of our Japanese food vendors:
“We are waiting for working together with Phat Beets and other vendors again hopefully soon. The Phat Beets Market was the only affordable Farmer’s market to join for start-up food entrepreneurs with not enough funds (ironically we spent all our hard earned money to invest to build the co-op kitchen). The reality of food business is that if you don’t have enough money nor good support and connections, there is no chance even for the great cooks and workers. There are too much costs (licensing, kitchen rental, insurance) for small businesses. So small vendors need organizations like Phat Beets who can support and offer the Market place which we can sell to the public.”