An East Bay Urban Farm Tour: January 14

Photographer Rachel Stanich found a lush garden setting on a late-summer visit to the farm at Castlemont High School in East Oakland.

The East Bay has some of the most diverse and advanced urban ag projects in the country, and on this bus tour, you’ll get to visit and experience hands-on activities at six notable projects (plus enjoy a plant-based lunch with seasonal ingredients). You’ll see how urban agriculture goes far beyond backyard gardens and community plots into producing healthy food, jobs, ownership, healthy environments, and food literacy in communities that nurture them.

This bus tour is a pre-conference event for EcoFarm, the West Coast’s premier organic and regenerative farming conference, which is scheduled for January 19-22, 2022, with in-person sessions at Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove. This annual gathering of agriculturalists works to advance just and ecological farming and food systems with visionary keynote speakers, skill-building workshops, an expo, seed swaps, networking, and pre-conference events like the East Bay Farm Tour described in this post. Find info on the main conference here, but you don’t need to sign up for the whole conference to participate in the East Bay Urban Farm Tour only.

Bay Area Urban Farms Bus Tour
Date/Times: Friday, January 14, 2022. Arrival: 8:30am at the MacArthur BART station. Hot tea and biscuits will be provided. Bus Departs: 9am sharp, returning around 5pm. Parking is available at MacArthur BART Parking on Level 5 and 6 for a fee.
Cost: $105 (includes lunch)
Info and registration: here

Farms featured on the Bay Area Urban Farms Bus Tour include:

Spiral Gardens 

Spiral Gardens in South Berkeley strives to model and enable a healthy alternative to our current food economy. For almost two decades this nonprofit has been part of the ever-growing movement to recreate a resilient and local food system that ties people directly to their sources of sustenance. Spiral Gardens’s mission is to improve community health and sustainability by providing access to nutritious and affordable produce, promoting a strong local food system, and encouraging productive use of urban soil.

Urban Tilth

This 15-year-old project in Richmond inspires, hires, and trains local residents to cultivate agriculture, feed the community, and restore relationships to land to build a more sustainable food system within a just and healthier community. It utilizes seven school and community gardens and small urban farms to teach and employ community members to grow, distribute, cook, and consume thousands of pounds of local produce each year, and to create a more equitable and just food system.

Castlemont Farm and Gardens 

In this educational space on a large high school campus in East Oakland, participants work to dismantle the racist dehumanizing impacts of colonialism on indigenous people of melanated skin throughout the world. The work fosters and builds healthy, sustainable, and thriving collaborative communities. The 1.5-acre education and production space hosts multiple youth-led social enterprises.

Planting Justice

Since 2009, this grassroots organization has been empowering people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing. Over the past decade, the Planting Justice team has built more than 550 gardens throughout the Bay Area, and sustained educational programming in high schools and sites of incarceration. In 2018, Planting Justice rematriated their land back to an Indigenous women-led organization, Sogorea Te Land Trust.

Farm the Roof

Check the EcoFarm Website for information coming soon.

Berkeley Technology Academy 

This innovative garden-based nutrition program allows students and their families to learn how to grow organically and sustainably, using soil-building practices like food scrap composting, no-till planting, and/or vermiculture. They explore and practice quiet meditation, teamwork, and the importance of connecting with and caring for the land and each other. The program teaches principles of land stewardship, regenerative growing, water conservation, and how to share the earth’s bounty with each other in order to foster healthy lives and communities.