Thursday, June 19, 2008

City Slicker Farms

I wanted to highlight an organization that has been doing some amazing things in Oakland. Hopefully their ideas and practices catch on and we start seeing the same things here in San Francisco.

Run entirely by volunteers, City Slicker Farms
increases food self-sufficiency in West Oakland by creating organic, sustainable, high-yield urban farms and back-yard gardens. These spaces provide healthy, affordable food and improve the environment. We seek to serve all West Oakland residents, prioritizing people who have least access. Our farms and gardens demonstrate the viability of a local food-production system, serve as community spaces, empower children and adults who want to learn about the connections between ecology, farming and the urban environment, and give West Oakland residents tools for self-reliance.

Below are their programs. I am particularly interested in the Urban Farming and Food Distribution. Imagine being able to do this in the various neighborhoods in SF!

Urban Farming:
At their urban farms (former empty lots) they focus on growing a seasonal variety of organic produce by maximizing yields while promoting plant diversity and soil health. They continually increase the amount of produce available to the community by starting new farms and helping residents to grow.

Food Distribution:
City Slicker Farms distributes produce to residents through farm stands, farmer's markets and work-trade. Sliding scale pricing means that no one is turned away for lack of funds. Their marketing efforts focus on low income customers who lack access to other sources of produce.

The Workshop Series provides the information, resources, and supplies necessary for residents to grow their own organic produce and learn about gardening,cooking, nutrition, natural medicine, and ecology. The educational programs for children and adults also provide experiential learning opportunities through school visits, work-days, and in-school programs.

Back-Yard Garden Building Program:
City Slicker Farms helps low income West Oakland residents to grow produce to feed their families or to sell or barter through our sites. They help build organic vegetable gardens and provide the ongoing assistance, supplies, and materials necessary for successful growing. For those who want to sell produce they provide the markets necessary for sales and work with growers to ensure quality.

Compost Program:
The sustainable farming practices depend on decomposed plant and food wastes for fertilizer. They recycle local wastes such as wood chips and sawdust, restaurant and home kitchen scraps, garden clippings, and animal manure to create high-quality compost for use at our farms and for residents.

Nursery & Seed Saving Program:
They ensure plant health and vigor by propagating our own organic plants for farms and gardens throughout West Oakland and for sale at our markets. As well as propagating annual vegetables, they grow a variety of medicinal and culinary herbs, flowers and fruiting plants. Each year they save seed at our farms in order to foster varieties adapted to our growing region and reduce dependence on outside sources.

Volunteer Program:
Volunteers are the life-blood of the organization, providing the majority of the labor necessary for our success. They encourage people from all walks of life to come work in solidarity with the residents of West Oakland to create a more just system of food distribution.