West Berkeley Empty Plot Will Be Converted Into Local Farm

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Built on a model of temporarily utilizing land slated for future development and aiming to address issues of sustainability, food security and social justice, a communal farm will spring up in West Berkeley next May.

The nonprofit organization Urban Adamah will transform an empty plot of land at 1050 Parker Street - donated for a two-year period by the Wareham Development company - into a community farm that will serve the surrounding area, said founder and Executive Director Adam Berman.

"There aren't enough community farms (in Berkeley)," he said. "Even if there are 20 or more community farms, we still wouldn't be meeting the needs ..."

Berman said the farm will be totally portable - food will be grown in 2-by-24-foot wooden boxes, classes will be conducted in teaching tents and participants will use "deconstructable" greenhouses and chicken coops on wheels.

"When the lease runs out, (we can) move all equipment, including the soil, from lot to lot," Berman said.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, who helped draw up an ordinance obliging property owners to maintain their empty lots, supports the project.

"We have a lot of vacant lots in Berkeley and they create problems," he said, adding that it is important for the Berkeley City Council to encourage active use of empty lots to avoid criminal behavior.

Arreguin said encouraging local food production is a key part of the city's strategy to address climate change.

"We need to make our communities more self-reliant," he said.

Urban Adamah's name comes from the Hebrew word for earth and was founded on Jewish values, said Berman.

"Judaism emerged as a religion at a time when everybody was a farmer," Berman said. "It's not a coincidence that the Jewish tradition is also built on these traditions."

Sarah Wolf, engagement associate for Hillel at UC Berkeley, said she has observed that the Jewish environmentalist movement seems to target individuals who are older than college-age.

"I'm hoping this program will give (college) students an opportunity to connect in a hands-on way," she said.

Berman said the Urban Adamah farm would be a failure if it only catered to Jews and added that the farm will run programs for community members and local schoolchildren regardless of their religious association.

Tags: BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL, JESSE ARREGUIN, PARKER STREET


Gianna Albaum covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]



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