Dear Friends of City Slicker Farms,
My name is Ariel Guidry and I am writing to tell you about how much City Slicker Farms has changed my life since I became an “ally” (a long-term volunteer) through the Urban Farming Education program.
Dear Friends of City Slicker Farms,
My name is Karen Williams and I live in West Oakland. Like a lot of our neighbors, my husband Robert and I come from a long tradition of tending a garden at home. For us, growing food is a practice that’s rooted in our family’s history. We do it so that our children can have a strong sense of where they come from.
In early October, Childcare Garden Program Coordinator Sarah Karlson and a very enthusiastic group of staff, children, and parents worked together to build a garden for Helen Turner Children's Center in Hayward. This garden was specifically designed to be accessible by children in wheelchairs. In just four hours, the group assembled boxes, strung trellises, shoveled soil, planted seedlings and installed irrigation. At the end of the day this beautiful garden was finished!
City Slicker Farms is partnering with StopWaste, a public agency that encourages recycling in Alameda County, to promote the use of your green bin at home.
Backyard Garden Program Coordinator Alison Fischman was on maternity leave for four months this year, but she's not letting that stop her from reaching her goal of thirty Backyard Garden builds.
Every year, we aim to build at least thirty new backyard gardens for West Oakland residents.
As we get closer to the start of construction on the new West Oakland Urban Farm and Park, the staff is abuzz with design plans and dreams of the future. One of the changes we’re most excited about is our new chicken coop--a beautiful 4-section compound that will house a 20-chicken flock.
The new coop is the project of a group of Masters of Architecture and Design MBA graduates from the California College of the Arts who received an IMPACT Award from CCA’s Center for Art and Public Life. Logan Kelley, Leila Khosrovi, Shawn Komlos, Hachem Mahfoud, Frances Reid, and Brendan Williams--Team Instructacoop--have been working on an innovative coop design since March.
"Five of us were in a class together at CCA called Professional Practice and we kind of 'hatched' this idea together," Frances said. "We met with City Slicker Farms folks and were flying a bunch of ideas that would be useful for the new Farm Park. The chicken coop seemed to rise to the top really quickly for all of us."The design features three paddocks that can be opened or closed via a central vestibule, allowing the chickens to graze in one paddock while the other paddocks regenerate, or providing a dedicated paddock for a chick hatchery. A roost located directly above a worm bin will convert chicken poop into compost. The design also has the potential to include a rainwater catchment system.
Thanksgiving arrives this week! But with this annual ritual often comes a swell of food waste in our community. Every day residents of Alameda County generate tons of food scraps and food-soiled paper, and the holidays can contribute a disproportionate amount of this. In fact, food scraps and food-soiled paper represent 35% of the stuff that’s going to our landfills.
But it doesn't have to be that way! Unlike many cities in the U.S., here in Oakland we can divert food waste from becoming waste at all – by putting food scraps and food-soiled paper back into the nutrient loop in the form of compost - through the municipal green bin system. That compost comes back to City Slicker Farms, a nutrient-rich soil amendment we add to all our urban farms and backyard gardens.
At the West Oakland Grown Harvest Festival this past weekend, we celebrated harvest time and the Rebuild of the Community Market Farm at Union Plaza Park with a community art workshop led by Attitudinal Healing Connection, an West Oakland-based organization that is breaking cycles of violence by providing platforms for creative expression and communication for children, youth, adults and families.
The goal of the workshop was to create art with our friends and neighbors that will have a permanent place at the farm at Union. We chose concepts for the art panels that represent the values of City Slicker Farms and what we strive to embody at our farms: Growth, Community and Sharing.
After the August vandalism incident at Union, many asked me if we should install additional security or cameras at our farm site. I think it is natural to respond to a crisis like this with fear and trepidation that it might happen again – I know I did.
But as that fear subsided, and our resolve increased, we knew that our response must be to build community, not take punitive action. So we asked Attitudinal Healing Connection to help us in a first step of creating permanent art for the space that communicates what the Community Market Farm is all about.
For the next seven days, we have the opportunity to grow something great.
Newman’s Own Foundation has challenged us to raise $10,000 in just seven days. For every donation from now until December 2nd, Newman’s Own Foundation will match dollar for dollar, doubling the impact of our supporters.
This means that your donation of $30 becomes $60, which funds the materials for two new boxes for backyard gardeners.
Your donation of $100 becomes $200, which funds a site visit for a community garden at a senior residential home.
Your donation of $500 becomes $1000, which funds a spring planting of seedlings at our greenhouse.
If we can raise $10,000 in 7 days, we'll be able to build three more gardens for backyard gardeners including two years of skills-building and mentorship, seed hundreds of plants at our greenhouse, and host four more farm visits for kids from our local elementary school.
Thanks to the voices of Oakland gardeners like you, our city is one step away from approving changes to our urban agriculture policy that would make it easier for everyone to grow and sell food.
Last week, Oakland City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee approved amendments to the City’s Zoning Policies that will make it easier and cheaper to have urban farms and gardens in Oakland. The items are moving on to to the full City Council’s Consent Calendar on November 5. Will you join us on Wednesday, November 5 at 5:30 p.m. to show City Council that Oakland residents believe growing food is a right? You can also contact your council person to voice your support for the policy changes.