In this three-part series, we are showcasing Black-owned urban farms in all their glory from three different regions of the U.S.
California is home to 5.4 million food insecure people, meaning millions of Californians have uncertain access to food. Of those 5.4 million, 2.3 million are children. That’s 1 in 4 children in the entire state. Food insecurity often prevents people from leading active, healthy lives due to a lack of nutrients.
Insufficient food access has far-reaching implications — food insecure people are often less healthy and productive. Children especially need consistent access to food to grow and concentrate in school. Black farmers in California are doing their part to make sure individuals and families have access to fresh produce. Traditional systems often oppress poor people of color and these farmers are working to make sure food insecure folks can grow and eat their own food.
Located in North Oakland, Phat Beets Produce (PBP) aims to create a healthier, more equitable food system through providing affordable access to fresh produce. In addition, PBP facilitates youth leadership in health and nutrition education and connects small farmers to large communities via farm stands, farmer’s markets, and urban youth market gardens.
We love PBP because they’re intersectional and intentional. PBP understands that food justice and housing justice intersect, and that is one of the reasons why they’re challenging and resisting gentrification in North Oakland.
Catch the Phat Beets Produce team on Tuesdays at the North Oakland Children’s Hospital farmer’s market and the Free Farm Stand at the Arlington Medical Center. PBP also hosts a community workday in Dover St. Park on Wednesdays and Sundays. There are many ways to get involved in the great work going on at Phat Beets Produce.
Known as the Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finley started gardening on property owned by the City of Los Angeles. When Ron Finley was informed that he was breaking the law, he and fellow activists got the law changed and he kept gardening. As an LA native, Finley knew first-hand about the struggles of growing up in a food desert. He knew how inconvenient and discouraging it was to drive 45-minutes away from home for fresh vegetables.
Finley’s innovative tactics garnered national attention. You can learn more about his story from watching his TED Talk or his film, You Can Dig This. Help Finley and his team build an urban garden in South Central LA by purchasing items from his store.
The folks at City Slicker Farms (CSF) are all about self-sufficiency. Their mission is to empower West Oakland community members to meet the immediate and basic needs for healthy fresh food for themselves and their families by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens.
CSF offers backyard gardens and a community garden program, allowing members access to their own fresh produce 24/7. West Oakland Farm Park, where CSF is located, is a lovely facility designed with the community’s needs in mind. Garden, exercise, and enjoy a movie screening all in one place. This farm is open everyday, 10am – 7pm. You can also volunteer and pick up seedlings for your garden each Thursday and Saturday.
Do you know of any Black-owned urban farms we didn’t list? Please tell us about their work and link to their website in the comments!
Don’t miss out on part one and two of the series: