Want to Farm in the City?

Weighing in at 261 pounds, Charlie Costello’s pumpkin Fat Chance (left, with Snoopy) was an entry in last year’s Half Moon Bay pumpkin weigh-off. Costello, who grows heirloom tomatoes and an assortment of veggies at MariLark Farms, hopes to have another pumpkin big enough for this year’s contest.   Photo courtesy of MariLark Farms


Come find out how some local urban farmers and gardeners grow food and raise animals on this year’s East Bay Urban Farm Tours. Hosted by the Institute of Urban Homesteading, the tours showcase eight sites of different sizes that employ various farming styles. Find out how these folks create and maintain productive veggie, pollinator, and rooftop gardens; how they tend chickens and bees; how they design their chick coops; and how they keep deer out. See rainwater catchment and greywater reuse in action.

Saturday October 12, 10am–4pm (last tour starts at 3pm)
Tours start on the hour at each location and last about 40 minutes, so you’ll have time to travel to the next location. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, get advice, and taste some of the foods these farmers produce. This year’s tour sites:

A young local learns where eggs come from at the Institute of Urban Homesteading’s Urban Farm Tours.
Photo courtesy of Institute of Urban Homesteading

Flayrah Gardens, North Oakland: You’ll find drought-tolerant abundance packed tidily into a tiny space with fruit trees and chickens.

The Berkeley Basket, West Berkeley: This urban CSA experiment in creative economics was founded by Berkeley City Council member Sophie Hahn and Willow Rosenthal, co-author of The Essential Urban Farmer and founder of City Slickers Farms. It is currently cooperatively managed by Moretta Browne, Rachel Lane, and Marianne Olney-Hamel and provides organically grown hyper-local produce for 14+ families.

Soil Sister Garden, North Berkeley: You’ll be inspired by the attractive use of repurposed materials, innovative deer- and critter-proofing, and rainwater catchment for indoor use at this zero-net energy home, where they keep chickens and grow food year-round.

Earthly Arts Farm, South Berkeley: Gorgeous artistically designed fruit orchard, veggie garden, and drought tolerant landscaping. See examples of a composting toilet (humanure), rainwater catchment, and greywater re-use.

MariLark Farm, Berkeley Hills: Charlie Costello grows a bounty of heirloom tomatoes and assorted veggies that he shares with the larger community. A seed library and information on seed saving are available for all to use.

PLACE for Sustainable Living, North Oakland: This urban sustainability education center is a community venture with rooftop gardens, fruit orchard, and bees. You’ll find helpful demonstration stations on rainwater collection, greywater, and aquaculture.

Gill Tract Community Farm, Albany: An urban farm that promotes social justice, agroecology, organic produce, and equitable food access. You can visit year-round and also sign up to volunteer.

Hoover Hawks Victory Garden at Hoover Elementary School, West Oakland: A model school garden and part of the Edible Schoolyard project, it’s named for Victory V. Lee, a black gardener and educator known for creating and maintaining elementary school gardens and urban farms.

Cost: $5 per person per site or day pass sliding scale: $30/$50/$75. Info and tickets: here or iuh@sparkybeegirl.com