If you've been reading Our Oakland for any time, you'll know I'm a big fan of urban farming. We haven't done much yet here, besides some potatoes grown in a trash can and compost, but there's lots I'd like to do after I'm done with major home improvements. Bees for honey, chickens for eggs, and of course a proper vegetable garden. It's not so much about saving money, but having more control of where are food comes from and what goes into it.
Central Oakland has a host of farmer's markets to shop at, but East Oakland and West Oakland not so much. And West Oakland has no large supermarkets, just a plethora of corner stores. So for much of Oakland's population, urban farming is about food security. That's where groups like City Slicker Farms come in. They grow vegetables in West Oakland for West Oakland residents. Right now it's fairly small, but they're expanding, both on their own lots, and in people's 'backyard gardens'. And they plan to have chickens for eggs soon.
The great thing is that it can be expanded much further. UrbanFood.org recently release a report created with the support of City Slicker Farms and HOPE Collaborative that says that Oakland has 1,200 acres of public land that could be used to provide fresh vegetables for its residents. Obviously the soil in many area would need to be tested for contaminants first, but that's still a huge amount of acreage that could provide fresh, healthy food. And it's not just about physical health; eating right helps young minds grow and learn better, too. The report is long, but worth checking out.
Shoutout to The Ethicurean where I saw it first. But the report has gotten wider attention and is written up on TreeHugger, too.