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Oakland’s City Girl Farmstore: an interview with owner Abeni Massey

December 6, 2012

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

One of the newer interesting and unique storefronts to open up in downtown Oakland within recent weeks is City Girl Farmstore, owned by Abeni Massey. The store is a new and welcome neighbor to the rebellious Bay Area, which has a very vibrant urban farming community. Read this new up and coming entrepreuner in her own words …

Abeni and her husband, Tajai Massey, are growing not only a garden but a family.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell the people where the concept for City Girl Farmstore came from?

Abeni: The concept for City Girl Farmstore was born from my desire to make it easier for folks in the city to grow their own food. As an urban farmer, I found it difficult to source many of the basic supplies I needed for my garden, bees and livestock. I wanted to offer a wide range of supplies at a reasonable price in a central location easily accessible by public transportation.

M.O.I. JR: What do you sell at City Girl Farmtore? How long has it been open?

Abeni: City Gitl Farmstore is about the basics: food, clothing and your shelter!

We carry indoor and outdoor farm and garden supplies, animal feed and animal husbandry supplies. Seeds, seedlings and tools. We also offer a range of urban homesteading products like cheese making supplies, natural dyes, beer and kombucha making supplies. We have some great books on farming, gardening and lots of how to books. We also feature locally crafted apparel and responsibly and sustainably produced products for the home.

M.O.I. JR: Why do you feel like this type of store is needed in this community?

Abeni: I truly believe that self-sufficiency is the cornerstone of a healthy community. Our store provides tools and information to foster community and individual self-sufficiency. Downtown Oakland is a point of convergence for a number of communities in Oakland and it gives us an opportunity to be a meeting place as well as a resource for all of these communities.

M.O.I. JR: What is your perspective of the urban farm movement in the Bay?

Abeni: I have been in a number of urban farming organizations throughout the Bay and through my experience I have seen lots of things that inspire me – and some things that trouble me. What I have come away with is that this “movement” is positive and needed. I just want to spread it and remind my people that self-sufficiency is in our blood.

My granddaddy was the first urban farmer I knew. He lived in Queens, New York City, and he grew everything in his backyard. I remember snapping beans on his porch as a little girl, then eating them with potatoes and hot water cornbread for dinner. I can’t let those kinds of traditions die. Not on my watch!

M.O.I. JR: How do people get in contact with you?

Abeni: People can contact me at the store. We are open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday 12- 9 p.m.. Our email is citygirlfarms@gmail.com. Like us on Facebook: 510farmstore. Follow us on Twitter @citygirlfarms.

Thank you for the support, JR!

The People’s Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He also hosts two weekly shows on KPFA 94.1 FM and kpfa.org: The Morning Mix every Wednesday, 8-9 a.m., and The Block Report every Friday night-Saturday morning, midnight-2 a.m. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

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