Two East Bay Tours on April 5 Enrich the Bioneers Conference Experience

The local tour company Ethnic Ties began its collaboration with Bioneers in 2022 with this tour for youth from the Intercultural Conversations Group. Stops included the Women of the Black Panther Party mural. (Photo courtesy of Ethnic Ties)


For more than 30 years, Bioneers has served as a fertile hub where social and scientific innovators can share practical and visionary solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. This year, for the first time, the nonprofit is bringing its annual conference to Berkeley, and the April 6–8 event kicks off with two pre-conference tours on April 5 that show off some notable East Bay innovations.


The Deep Medicine Circle Rooftop Farm in Oakland offers stunning views and a chance to learn about a unique model for growing food for local people.


Community members helping out with planting at Urban Tilth’s farm in Richmond give their crop a thumbs up.

Urban Foodscape Tour

The Bay Area Green Tours (BAGT) Urban Foodscape Tour features three stops and lunch catered by Indigenous restaurant Wahpepah’s Kitchen. Mounting the bus in Berkeley, guests travel to Richmond to visit Urban Tilth, an urban farm that teaches and employs community members to grow, cook, and distribute fresh produce. A stop at 02 Artisans Aggregate (02AA) provides the chance to visit diverse artisans and businesses who share an interest in ecology and environmentally friendly practices. At the Deep Medicine Circle’s Rooftop Farm in the Temescal district of Oakland, the stunning 360° panoramic view is backdrop to a splendid array of garden beds with flowers and produce. Here, guests learn about a farming model that combines Indigenous knowledge, agroecological practices, and generosity.

BAGT was founded in 2008 by educator and environmental activist Marissa LaMagna, previously the owner of yoga center Studio Rasa. “The word ahimsa in yoga means ‘do no harm,’ so that was really a big part of what we were teaching,” says LaMagna. When the yoga studio lost its lease, LaMagna brought her ideas about ahimsa and care for the earth to new endeavors. She developed a Berkeley tour for the Green Festival and then started BAGT, a nonprofit providing tours with themes like zero-waste and green building. After an initial focus on tours for the general public, LaMagna shifted to group tours for local businesses and schools. Most popular are food-focused visits to spots like Pie Ranch that include meeting farmers, enjoying fresh produce, and learning about regenerative agriculture, farmworker rights, and food justice.

“I want to get a new audience out there to see what’s happening,” says LaMagna. “We have so many great models and changemakers to learn from in the Bay Area.”


East Bay Solidarity Tour

Cupcakin’ at Swan’s Market in Oakland is one of the stops on the Ethnic Ties Black Foodie Tour.

Educator and entrepreneur Acacia WoodsChan started Ethnic Ties as a travel business in 2019. “We were interested in leveraging travel and culture to support community development specifically for Black, Indigenous, and people-of-color travelers and business owners,” says WoodsChan. When the pandemic brought a pause to travel in 2020, WoodsChan was on the verge of closing up shop. But when a friend happened to mention that she favored a certain taco spot in downtown Oakland, WoodsChan decided to broaden her friend’s geographic horizons with an impromptu taco tour in East Oakland. That experience and her friend’s encouragement led WoodsChan to develop additional tours highlighting some of Oakland’s cultural traditions and sites from Fruitvale to Chinatown.

WoodsChan says her East Bay Solidarity Tour (offered in collaboration with Bioneers and also as a stand-alone event) is a way of highlighting two important qualities: “our shared resistance and our shared resilience amongst a number of different populations.” She add, “We want to show how connected we actually are, despite narratives that claim otherwise.”

The half-day tour starts off with a visit to a shellmound, a Native American ceremonial and burial site near the Emeryville-Oakland border made of soil, shell, and rock.


Acacia WoodsChan (center, with white shorts) and the Black Foodie Tour group take a break for photos.


A stop at Oakland’s Women of the Black Panther Party Museum and Mural provides an opportunity for education about the impact of different groups on one another. For example, WoodsChan notes that many people don’t realize that a lot of the tenets of the Black Panther Party are now national policy.

The tour travels to Fruitvale for a memorable lunch of Native American foods at Wahpepah’s Kitchen. WoodsChan is happy to bring visitors to Fruitvale, which she views as an exemplary area where diverse communities are living together and thriving.

Discounts for both the East Bay Solidarity Tour and the Urban Foodscape Tour are available for those who also attend the Bioneers Conference.  See tour details below.

Urban Foodscape Tour: Innovators Nourishing the East Bay
Wednesday April 5, 9am–5:30pm
Cost: $144 with Bioneers discount
Info and tickets: here

East Bay Solidarity Tour
Wednesday April 5, starting at 9am or 2pm
Cost: $112.50 with Bioneers discount
Info and tickets: here