Sankofa Mobile Market

In collaboration with Sankofa CDC, Small Center worked to design and build a mobile market that draws in customers, provides functional and durable food display, and offers sun protection while physically representing Sankofa’s brand.

Project Dates

August 2015–December 2015


The ability to access fresh local food in New Orleans is not something that all neighborhoods, ages, or races have in equal measure. Yet while some food deserts exist, the model of the mobile market has existed in New Orleans for decades. Sankofa is reviving this tradition as a way to bring food to populations and neighborhoods underserved by current grocery store and market locations. Sankofa is action-oriented: creating interventions in the built environment, engaging with those that can influence policy, and emphasizing education as a means to make a difference concerning food.

Small Center Engagement

In Fall 2015, Small Center partnered with Sankofa CDC to design and build a mobile produce stand to increase their capacity to serve senior centers and health clinics around the city. The “site” of the design build project is the bed of a Toyota Tundra pickup truck, which presented some unique challenges that the students addressed with great skill, thoughtfulness, and creativity through a rigorous engagement and collaborative development process. During the project, students experimented with materials and their capacities, learned new skills (like welding steel and aluminum), and learned the value of collaboration and communication with our partner organization, end-users, material suppliers, and with one another.

The Mobile Market is a transformable addition to the bed of the pick-up which can be loaded with produce and folds up to drive through the city streets. It unfolds in an efficient and graceful way to produce shade, display information, and a gathering space for community members.

Partner Organization

Sankofa CDC, a non-profit based in the Lower Ninth Ward, aims to support the creation of a local environment that promotes positive health outcomes and long-term community well-being.


Sankofa staff report that the Mobile Market has helped save time with setup and packup on site, and has increased efficiency and capacity when it comes to displaying produce. Their ability to display and sell produce has doubled – from 8 items to 20 – since the new Mobile Market hit the streets. In addition the market customers, who are primarily elderly residents of the city, say that the shade covering is one of the best parts of the design and has made their buying experience much more pleasant in the hot southern sun. To read the description of the completed market in the final booklet, please click here.


Sankofa CDC

  • Rashida Ferdinand
  • Rosa Torres
  • Grace Williams

Team Members

Project Leads

  • Doug Harmon (Design Lead)
  • Emilie Taylor Welty (Project Manager)
  • Sue Mobley (Engagement Advisor)


  • John Coyle
  • Maggie Hansen
  • Nick Jenisch
  • Donn Peabody


  • Megan Van Artsdalen
  • Calla Bardwell
  • Ruben Contreras
  • Jenny Renn Key
  • Eric Lynn
  • Michael Meline
  • Shelby Mills
  • Sarah Morasso
  • Gianna Morelli
  • Joseph Newman
  • Catherine Nguyen
  • Allison Price
  • JD Scott
  • Laura Stokley

Special Thanks

  • Andrew Schrock
  • Justin Shiels
  • Jody Towers
  • Mercy Endeavors Senior Center
  • Milhaus


  • Johnson Controls, Inc.