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An urban food production hub that creates access to living-wage careers and nutritious, affordable food in deep East Oakland.
An urban food production hub that creates access to living-wage careers and nutritious, affordable food in deep East Oakland.
922 backers pledged $104,705 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$104,705

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We need your help to purchase 2 acres of deserted land in Sobrante Park, a neighborhood in deep east Oakland that is known for having the highest unemployment and crime rates in Oakland, and very limited access to grocery stores or any other way of getting fresh, organic, nutritious food. We have chosen this neighborhood as the site where we will build our aquaponics farm and training center, house the newly acquired Rolling River Nursery (www.rollingrivernursery.com), and create an urban food production hub staffed almost entirely by formerly incarcerated staff/community leaders. 

This food production hub will be environmentally and economically self-sustaining once completed, and will deeply benefit residents of a neighborhood that has become a national symbol of urban disenfranchisement. We believe this pilot project, and the Planting Justice organization, is a model that can be replicated around the country to dramatically reduce recidivism, unemployment, hunger, and violence in disenfranchised urban communities.

This 2 acre plot of land represents an ambitious project with multiple components: 

1,100 Varieties of Organic Tree-Crops

Last year, we purchased Rolling River Nursery, one of the most successful permaculture plant nurseries in the world, with national reach/clientele, and the largest and most biodiverse collection of certified organic edible tree crops in North America...1100 varieties! We will move this enormous nursery collection from Humboldt County to the site at East 105th in Oakland, bringing unprecedented access to rare tree-crops and fresh produce to the Sobrante Park community. Sobrante Park residents on government assistance will receive free/sliding scale fruit trees! Check out this video announcing the nursery acquisition.

Recirculating Aquaponics Farm 

We’ll use the most water and cost efficient technology to build a recirculating aquaponics farm capable of producing over 100,000 pounds of organic produce each year, and all of its own energy. By recirculating the water we use, we’ll be able to grow food while using 90% less water than traditional in-ground farms. What's more, this project's success will turn paved and polluted empty lots locally and nationally into potential sites for urban agriculture that grow healthy food, dignified jobs, and lasting community.

Sliding Scale Produce Shop 

There are no grocery stores in Sobrante Park - making fresh produce inaccessible for too many families in deep east Oakland. We'll convert a salvaged shipping container into a sliding scale organic produce shop on-site at E. 105th, providing access to fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cottage industry products like pesto, plant medicine, and honey. Our shop will accept EBT & SNAP, and operate on a sliding scale basis for Sobrante Park residents to ensure maximum local accessibility. 

Permaculture Training Center 

Permaculture practices and principles should be accessible to everyone, not withheld and shared only for those who can pay for expensive permaculture certification courses. We are committed to utilizing this space to do mass permaculture education amongst residents of deep East Oakland. This site will provide paid training opportunities for formerly incarcerated people and free youth-oriented community workshops led by formerly incarcerated educators -- in plant propagation, aquaponics, culinary arts, nutrition, herbal medicine, social justice curricula, and more!  

Worker-Owned Cooperative Incubator

Our 3 year goal for this project is to develop a replicable model for community-owned, sustainable local food systems that can be utilized by disenfranchised communities across the country. We'll prove the model, provide intensive training to new worker-owners, share our technology, help new farmers access land and start-up capital, connect new farms to our network of produce buyers, market our produce cooperatively, and provide administrative/financial support as new projects get off the ground, to support formerly incarcerated people, and those most impacted by food/health inequity, in seeding similar projects on other vacant lots throughout Oakland, the state of California, and beyond.

Risks and challenges

Oakland, despite its reputation for racial and ethnic diversity, is actually a highly segregated city. Unemployment, poverty, and violent crime are concentrated in Sobrante Park and "deep East Oakland", and without much investment or resources from the City, other than policing, residents are understandably angry. Unemployment among black young adults in the neighborhood is approximately 50%, and 80% among formerly-incarcerated black men. The traumas are extensive and all-too-real. PJ staff-leaders, like residents of the surrounding community, have themselves survived through the traumas of multi-generational economic disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, violence and gangs, the criminalization of addiction and the lack of addiction recovery services, the deportation of parents, and the pain and suffering associated with being unable to feed your children, your siblings, or yourself enough healthy food.

With a “second chance at life”, as Anthony Forrest of PJ likes to say, PJ staff are transforming themselves by dedicating their lives in service of their community: growing food and teaching others how to grow food sustainably in the city, mentoring and building long-term relationships with youth and young adults also at risk of violence and incarceration, and building social enterprises that create living-wage jobs in their community while increasing access to organic, delicious, and healthy food. More than 10 of PJ's staff are from Sobrante Park and the immediate surrounding neighborhood. This project’s success is primarily dependent on the strength of our peer-to-peer relationships that create openings for healing and neighborhood movement building towards health, well-being, and food justice.

This project is 'of, by, and for" the community...we can't depend on anyone else to overcome these challenges for us. It's up to us, and with your help, we'll not only succeed, but provide the tools and resources for other communities with similar challenges to replicate our success!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    - a digital download of the Planting Justice Garden Primer: a 50 pg booklet we wrote to help you maximize food production in your yard. Covers watering, harvesting, tending, transplanting, organic pest control, mulching, composting, plant medicine, companion planting, greywater, and more!
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles" (see above, January 2017)

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    187 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    - a special edition Planting Justice t-shirt (June 2016); your choice of color and logo style!
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence (January 2017)

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    165 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    - a special edition Planting Justice hooded sweatshirt (June 2016); your choice of color and logo style!
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence (January 2017)

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    126 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    - 4 heirloom certified organic food-producing trees (choose from 1100 varieties) from Rolling River Nursery that you can plant in your own backyard
    - Planting Justice t-shirt & sweatshirt

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    32 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    - a permaculture consultation for your backyard, school, church, or community center by our Transform Your Yard team (Bay Area only); we'll talk food, gardens, plant medicine, greywater, rainwater catchment, chickens, bees, and more!
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence (January 2017)
    - Planting Justice t-shirt & sweatshirt

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    Reward no longer available 12 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    - we'll bring one of our famous pop-up kale smoothie stands to your event, serving up freshly made organic kale smoothies for up to 100 people (Bay Area only)
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence (January 2017)
    - Planting Justice t-shirt & sweatshirt

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    - a private tour and picnic for you and up to 9 guests on our 5 acre farm in El Sobrante (each guest can take home one heirloom, certified organic food-producing tree!)
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence (January 2017)
    - Planting Justice t-shirt & sweatshirt

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    Limited 8 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    - A private tour and picnic for you and 9 guests at the new Planting Justice Nursery and Aquaponics Farm in East Oakland. Each guest can take home 1 organic, heirloom fruit or nut tree! (Fall 2016/Winter 2017)
    -- a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence
    - Planting Justice t-shirt and sweatshirt

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    Limited 3 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    - we will name one of the greenhouses at the food production hub after YOU (or whoever you want to honor)
    - a digital download of "The Freedom Chronicles", a video diary by PJ Staffer Bilal Coleman documenting his first year of freedom after a 20 year prison sentence (January 2017)
    - Planting Justice t-shirt & sweatshirt

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Funding period

- (30 days)