With sadness we say goodbye to Paul Hudson, a beloved West Oakland neighbor and City Slicker Farms community member. Paul helped establish the original Center Street Farm and has been involved in many ways over the years. Always a friendly and caring person, he is dearly missed.
Wow! On August 20, over 250 volunteers came out to the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park and built an entire playground in a single day. We were blown away by the showing of support and don't know what to say other than: thank you! We are so proud to be part of this amazing community.
By Food Justice Ally Rachel Sullivan
Any idea what to do with 18 pounds of green beans? What about a bundle of Lemon Verbena? Figuring out how to use unfamiliar or large amounts of produce can often hold people back from eating healthier foods. For the past two months, I have been running nutrition demonstrations at our farm stand at Union Plaza Park to increase community awareness about cooking possibilities and nutritional benefits of our fruits and veggies. Through these demos I have learned what produce is in demand in West Oakland, which coincided with the produce grown by City Slicker Farms. The demos have also given me the chance to create meaningful relationships with customers and CSF backyard gardeners, as well as network and collaborate with other food justice organizations in the area. My intention was not to tell people to change the way they cook — the goal, rather, has been to inspire conversations about healthy eating.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, the Ralph Bunche School Nursery rang with the sound of drills as a new raised bed was being installed. This wasn't the typical garden build, though -- the construction of this bed was the culmination of a project that City Slicker Farms' Youth Crew had been working on for several weeks.
KaBOOM! Playground Build Day on August 20, 2015 is approaching fast, and we're busy getting the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park ready (as you may have noticed if you've passed it recently). We couldn't be more excited to partner with KaBOOM! and PG&E to bring West Oakland kids' dream playground to life! Last month, at the Willy Keyes Recreation Center a few blocks from the Farm Park, we hosted a Design Day for local youth to draw their ideas for a perfect playground.
Passing on the Gift of Healthy Food: Backyard Gardeners Train to Become Health Promoters with Cooking Matters
By Food Justice Ally Sarah Holle
There is more sugar in a bottle of Strawberry Fanta than in Coke, students at a recent Cooking Matters class in Oakland were surprised to learn, especially since there are strawberries on the front of the Fanta bottle. Moments of discovery like this are part of a free 9-week course for local residents in Oakland and around the bay to become Health Promoters in their community. The classes are run by 18 Reasons, a nonprofit dedicated to emowering communities to make healthy food choices. Two of our Backyard Gardeners, Iris Corina and Laurie Alessandra, are taking part in the Promoter training course, where they are being equipped to teach their own 6-week courses fostering a culture of healthy eating in their neighborhoods.
By Food Justice Ally Sarah Holle
As wildfires continue to rage through dry brittle forests and reservoirs rapidly recede, the severity of the drought has become all too real. With the growing costs and concern of having enough water, conservation efforts need to be implemented. But this doesn't mean all the plants in your garden have to suffer! Watering a garden for a week has been calculated to use less water than taking a bath or doing a load of laundry.
City Slicker Farms has calculated how much water is needed for one of our 4’x8’ planter boxes. With a ½” drip irrigation system, watering 120 minutes/week or 30 minutes every other day, you'll use about 24 gallons per week for one box.
If you are hand-watering, a standard hose flow rate is about 5-7 gallons of water per minute. If you water for a couple minutes about 2-3 times a week, you'll also use 24 gallons per week for one box.
Now, let's compare these numbers to other basic water usage. The average use per person per day is 70 gallons, and East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is asking residents to reduce their usage to 35 gallons a day. A 10-minute shower with a water-saving showerhead uses 20 gallons of water, while a bath in a tub uses 35 gallons of water, and a load of laundry uses 42 gallons of water. To calculate your daily water usage on EBMUD's Water Smart Calculator.
So, don't give up on growing your food! Instead, look for other ways to conserve water and still maintain a beautiful, productive garden.
Here are five easy ways to reduce your water usage:
By Food Justice Ally Sarah Holle and Program Assistant Katherine Yagle
For Rosa Oliva and her daughter Carolina Santos, owners of the restaurant Tamales la Oaxaqueña on Market Street, gardening acts as a bridge to their heritage and home. Agriculture plays a large role in their family history as Rosa's father grew up fishing, hunting, farming, and living off the land in Oaxaca, Mexico. Rosa grew up in abundance, with chilis, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, pumpkins, and green beans growing all around her. However, Carolina feels disconnected from this lifestyle, compared to the one she has been living here in Oakland. To her, these memories of her family's past are only stories. "I'm so out of touch with that," Carolina said. "It's an archetypal memory -- it's so ingrained in the culture."
Alison Fischman, in whose capable (and sometimes dirty) hands our Backyard Garden Program has rested for the past four years, is leaving City Slicker Farms. Alison has left a deep and lasting impact on our organization, forming meaningful relationships with the Backyard Gardeners with whom she worked and building the program into the success it is today.
By Food Justice Allies Pia Greig and Sarah Holle
With a deep background in the culinary arts, West Oakland resident Edith Finch was excited to create her own ‘garden to table’ experience when she first heard about City Slicker Farms' Backyard Garden Program. Prior to receiving their garden beds, Edith and her husband Bruce didn't have much experience in growing their own food, but they were eager to learn after a friend told them about the program. Now, nearly five years later, their garden is flourishing!