The end of the year is a time of reflection, gratitude, and rest. After the holiday festivities end and food comas recede, we collectively hunker down, bundle up, and anxiously start planning our “next big thing” for the approaching year. But before the New Year jitters kick in, it is important to take a breath, look around, and truly appreciate all that we have accomplished in just 12 short months.
Here at City Slicker Farms, 2021 was a bustling year of growth and progress, despite the constant day-to-day challenges. We faced erratic and unpredictable COVID waves and ordinances, strange weather patterns, and the struggles that come with limited funding and resources. We made it through the wildfire season, the summer drought, and destructive wind storms that ravaged our little farm. And yet, through the chaos and uncertainty, we bloomed.
The numbers speak for themselves. We grew and distributed over 4,500 pounds of nutritious, farm-fresh produce to our community members in need through our new partnership with Town Fridge. Thanks to funding from Alameda County Health Department, we grew and gave away over 500 plants to West Oakland residents at events at the West Oakland Library and Community Foods Markets. Through our Backyard Garden Program, 12 new gardens were built for free for our community members, and 400 existing Backyard Gardens were supported. Our vision to co-power the West Oakland community to meet the basic need for fresh, healthy food became more tangible than ever.
But we couldn’t have done it alone. With the help of our volunteers, we were able to expand our food growing operation by extending our rows where kale, chard, celery, mustard greens, and squash now thrive. When we needed help building new community garden beds and a second chicken coop, our volunteers from Laney College answered the call. We were able to forage a partnership with Urban Adamah, a educational farm and community center in Berkeley, whose interns beautified our perimeter with new flowers and herbs, planted out our beds, assisted in building new Backyard Gardens, and helped rear our chickens to maturity. Despite the challenges of balancing school and work, we had interns from Oakland Unified School District commit themselves to weeks of maintenance work around the farm. And when it felt like we were losing touch with our community, Yoga Love brought us back to center through outdoor group yoga events that reminded us to always return to our breath.
2022 is upon us, and we have so much to look forward to. With our new brood of chickens reaching maturity, we will soon be able to offer organic, high quality eggs in our free Town Fridge so our community can have access to protein rich food. As children return from a winter hiatus to play in our playground, we will plan and execute a brand new, educational, interactive garden to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. We are excited to continue our yearly goal to build 10 new gardens for our community, and look forward to foraging new relationships with budding gardeners across Oakland. Finally, now that our growing rows have been expanded, we also hope to exceed our 2021 numbers and give away at least 5,000 pounds of produce.
The future may always be uncertain, and the challenges may keep rolling in. But if gardening has taught us anything, it is that we will persist, we will keep growing through the storms, and with the help of our amazing partners and community, we will continue to cultivate resilience and health here in West Oakland.
On behalf of everyone here at City Slicker Farms, thank you to all those who have collaborated, donated to, and volunteered with us. Your support is the reason why we are able to continue to feed, educate, and empower our community.