Last month, the City of Oakland passed the first hurdle to becoming a more urban farmer-friendly city when the Oakland Planning Commission passed an update to the City’s Agricultural Regulations that recognizes planting and raising food and livestock as a right, not a conditional privilege requiring a permit. Now, the proposal is moving onto the Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee.
The update would empower our city to grow and raise our own food in a few major ways. It makes it easier for anyone to start raising and selling food by changing the definition of a community garden from land cultivated by “more than one” to “one or more” persons.
In addition, the changes remove the lengthy and expensive permitting process that used to be required for raising and selling food on a lot by designating certain agricultural activities as “permitted outright.” These activities include growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs; keeping up to three beehives; and selling those food products on- or off-site. This means any community garden less than one acre in size with a sales area up to 500 square feet no longer has to apply for a Conditional Use Permit, a process that could cost thousands of dollars and take several months.
Earlier this year, we shared the news that our Barbara Finnin, City Slicker Farms’ Executive Director of six years, would be transitioning out of her leadership role in June. At the time, we launched our Executive Transition Committee and opened a national search to find the right candidate. As Barb’s last day with City Slicker Farms approaches, the Board of Directors has made the strategic management decision to bring on an Interim Executive Director to implement on short-term management and strategic planning work, while focusing our search for a long-term full-time Executive Director.
In early 2008, I was recruited to be City Slicker Farms’ Interim Executive Director while our founder, Willow Rosenthal Summer, was on sabbatical. During those three months, I gained a deep respect for the organization’s well-designed programs and philosophical approach, and the community we work with. At that point, we were a team of one full time (me) and two part time employees, three apprentices, and a wonderful group of volunteers all working on a shoestring budget.
To Our Community,
As some of you may know, towards the end of 2013 we finished building an outdoor classroom at Fitzgerald Park. Its construction marked part of the long-awaited completion of a community planning process that began in 2007, to improve the infrastructure at Fitzgerald Park for the community to share. The intention of the outdoor classroom was to create an inclusive gathering space for our farm stand, workshops, tours, and other community events, gatherings, and learning opportunities for our participants and the larger West Oakland community.
Dear City Slicker Farms family,
Dear neighbors and friends,
We are writing this letter to respond to some complaints that City Slicker Farms and the City of Oakland Department of Parks and Recreation have been receiving about the outdoor classroom at Fitzgerald Park. We take these comments very seriously and wanted to share some information about the development of this Community Market Farm.
My name is Muriel Sterling, owner and operator of Sterling`s Family Child Care Facility here in Oakland. That’s one of my students and his mom on the cover of the City Slicker Farms’ Annual Report you received this summer! We’ve all been so inspired by our experience that I wanted to share our story with you.
Thanks to all of you and IKEA co-workers, City Slicker Farms WON the $10,000 in IKEA Products, Services And In-Kind Donations From IKEA Emeryville! We are so thrilled and so grateful to you all for voting for us. We can't wait to design with IKEA and then show you the pictures and invite you over when we're done.
West Oakland’s Leaded Landscape: Making Tough Choices
By Alison Fischman, Backyard Garden Coordinator