When I started as Interim Executive Director of City Slicker Farms in July 2014, I made a promise to the Board of Directors: we would open the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park on my watch, so that the next permanent Executive Director of the organization could come into leadership without the pressure and distraction of a major construction project and capital campaign.
Well, my friends, we are almost there.
One of the most exciting parts about opening the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park will be the partnerships that come to life there; with an outdoor classroom, an educational kitchen, and plenty of public event space, the Farm Park will be a place for community groups to gather and learn.
But the partnerships aren’t only starting at opening weekend — the construction process itself has been an opportunity for collaboration across organizations. One such partnership our staff has been thrilled about is with our friends at Planting Justice. Planting Justice’s Transform Your Yard (TYY) program builds edible landscapes, sending in a team of experienced permaculture designers and landscapers, many of whom were formerly incarcerated.
At a recent visit to one of our preschool garden sites, City Slicker Farms’ Childcare Garden coordinator Sarah Karlson stood amidst a group of four- and five-year-olds holding a piece of kale.
“Who can tell me what this is?” she asked. “Salad!” the kids yelled with excitement and recognition. “Yes, this is kale–we like to eat kale in salads!”
"I've been barbecuing all my life," said Ron Cain as he perused collards at a recent Saturday farm stand at Union Plaza Park, "but the business I've been doing 11 years."
Ron is a neighbor of our largest Community Market Farm and owner of Ron's Pit Stop, a barbecue business at 25th and Valencia in San Francisco. As an experienced cook, he loves to peruse the many varieties of greens at our weekly farm stand. He has a recipe that uses four types of greens and one special ingredient: smoked turkey butt.
We're just a few short months from opening the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park, and things are really ramping up at the site!
Do you want to be a part of this exciting project?
Join us on November 14 and 15 for special community farm workdays!
Anyone who has been by the construction site of our West Oakland Urban Farm and Park lately has seen some big changes. Our future new home sits across from CASS Recycling on Peralta Avenue, and since we acquired the land in late 2013, has mostly been sitting vacant, waiting for this project. The field of weeds memorialized in this Fall's Edible East Bay magazine photo spread has disappeared -- supplanted by thousands of yards of clean dirt, trucked in to replace the dirt that was removed during the original remediation of the site. The line of trees at the back of the site have been removed so that we can plant a food forest orchard on the northwestern part of the farm.
By Food Justice Ally Sarah Holle
On a sunny June morning this summer, a crew of City Slicker Farms staff, allies, and volunteers gathered to help Mildred Williams build a backyard garden at her apartment complex. Mildred couldn’t be more excited to reconnect with her southern agricultural roots and hopes that the garden will also teach her family how to connect with the earth.
Born in Baton Rouge, in what was then considered the countryside of Louisiana, Mildred helped her mother and uncle on the farm growing crops like strawberries, corn, and cotton. This was where she was introduced to farming and growing.
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.