Newsletter | Nov/Dec 2015

City Slicker Farms' West Oakland Farm and Park Slated to Open in March
by Rebecca Friedberg

City Slicker Farms, a pioneer of food-producing gardens in Oakland’s low-income communities, is wrapping up construction on a new permanent farm and park for West Oakland. A milestone for food justice and land ownership in a challenged community, the long-awaited project will turn 1.4 acres of formerly industrial property into a thriving green space and working farm for the neighborhood.

City Slicker Farms owns the land where the farm and park are sited. Located in the heart of West Oakland at 28th and Peralta Streets, this will be City Slicker Farms’ largest farm site, doubling the organization’s capacity to distribute food and educate community members about urban farming and gardening.

“A new urban farm and public park is a huge benefit for the West Oakland community,” said Ariel Dekovic, Interim Executive Director of City Slicker Farms. “We have secured this land to ensure that it will benefit the community in perpetuity. We have designed and developed a public park and educational farm that will welcome all. Starting today, any West Oakland resident who wants fresh, healthy food or wants to learn how to grow it will be able to do that in the heart of our city.”

The design process was highly collaborative. Lowney Architecture and CMG Landscape Architecture worked closely with City Slicker Farms staff on the design. Furthermore, several community meetings encouraged the local community's involvement in the design process. This ensured that their needs would be met and that they would have a strong sense of ownership of the project when complete.
The “West Oakland Urban Farm and Park” will feature new open green space with host of new recreational and educational opportunities. The community-driven design includes a children’s playground, a working farm, open space (to provide room for youth of all ages to run, play, and exercise), a community garden, a fruit orchard, a chicken coop, public art installations and a beehive.

The park will be open seven days a week, from morning until night, without charge. City Slicker Farms is collaborating with other community-based groups and individuals to provide ongoing outdoor and educational programming for the community at the site. Food grown on the farm will be available for purchase on a sliding scale basis to community members at a weekly farmstand.

In 2010, City Slicker Farms was awarded $4,000,000 for a “West Oakland Park and Urban Farm” project. The funds come from Proposition 84, a California bond initiative approved in 2006, which reserves 5.4 billion dollars in bonds for projects involving water quality and access, park improvements, and natural resources and park preservation. The “West Oakland Urban Farm and Park” was the second highest award in Alameda County and the 22nd largest award in the state.

Site Plan. Designed by Lowney Architecture and CMG Landscape Architecture

Since 2001, City Slicker Farms has been successfully partnering with thousands of West Oakland residents to transform vacant lots and hundreds of backyards into food-producing gardens, growing over 25,000 pounds of food each year. This exemplifies a successful, resident-driven movement to utilize urban agriculture as a means to get needed food on the table. West Oakland is an 8.2 square mile industrial area bounded by three major freeways, and it is home to the 5th busiest port in the country. The neighborhood struggles with poverty, environmental pollution, and a lack of access to fresh, affordable healthy food. Thirty-two percent of residents live below the poverty level, and mortality rates for diabetes and heart disease are 1.5 times above the county rate. The lack of access to safe open space and healthy foods contributes to chronic illnesses. This new project will address these issues in a greater capacity by more than doubling City Slicker Farms’ operations and programs.

This project has truly been a team effort. Many local professionals worked behind the scenes to bring this impressive project to fruition. Local firms Lowney Architecture, IDA Structural Engineering, Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods and John Raeber donated their professional services. Several other firms offered their services at reduced fees. Architecture students from CCA (California College of Arts) designed and will build the planned chicken coop. They all believe in the promise of Oakland and support its development along a path that includes and benefits all residents.

Photo of one of the current location of CSF. Photo by ???

About City Slicker Farms:

City Slicker Farms supports food self-sufficiency by creating organic, sustainable, high-yield urban farms and partnering with residents and institutions to transform outdoor spaces and yards into food-producing gardens. These spaces provide healthy, affordable food and improve the environment. City Slicker Farms prioritizes people who have the least access to healthy food. The farms and gardens demonstrate the viability of a local food-production system; serve as community space; empower children and adults who want to learn about the connections between ecology, farming and the urban environment; and support tools for self-reliance and empowerment.

It's not too late to contribute! Community build days are coming up, and if you prefer not to swing a hammer, please consider donating funds.

Ariel Dekovic

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