As a child, Tracy Perron grew up eating vegetables that were grown from a relative’s backyard in East Oakland. “If my mother wanted fresh vegetables, she would go to my aunt’s house and pick it from their garden,” Perron said. Her aunt, however, could only spare so much, so Perron grew accustomed to driving to Oakland’s Chinatown for produce, and as far away as Stockton for fresh meat.
Perron now owns her own home in East Oakland’s Elmhurst neighborhood, and she still commutes often to neighboring cities like San Leandro and Hayward to buy groceries. But those trips should become a lot less frequent after April 7, when The DEEP Grocery Co-op launches its new online supermarket for residents of deep East Oakland and other parts of the city. It’s a service that Perron is eagerly awaiting. “I am so excited because we need it,” she said. “We deserve it.”
The DEEP (Deep East Oakland Empowering the People) Grocery Co-op was conceived in 2019 as a way to bring organic and locally grown foods to areas of East Oakland without nearby full-service grocery stores. Organizers say the effort is as much about supporting local Black and brown farmers and creating jobs as it is about giving residents greater access to healthy foods. To achieve its goal, The DEEP has partnered with Mandela Grocery Cooperative, based in West Oakland, and with Dig Deep Farms, which grows produce at small farms throughout Alameda County.