OHA has presented a Partners in Preservation Award to City Slicker Farms, an organization that has operated in the vanguard of the 21st-century sustainable urban farms and food justice movement since its founding in 2001. City Slicker Farms combines skills training, community building, direct service, and a commitment to social, economic, and racial justice in one of the most blighted communities in Oakland. Its mission is to empower community members to meet the basic need for fresh, healthy food for themselves and their families by creating sustainable, high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens. By creating safe, green spaces in inner-city neighborhoods, where City Slicker Farms delivers hands-on training, internships, and workshops, as well as affordable, healthy food, the organization has gained national recognition as a leader in engagement of low-income communities of color to grow food through sustainable agriculture in the city.
City Slicker Farms has reached significant benchmarks in 14 years: It has trained more than 3,000 youth and adults in urban agriculture, built more than 350 gardens at the homes of low-income residents and the institutions that serve them (including senior, youth, and child-care centers), and produced 252,000 pounds of food through its Backyard Garden and Community Market Farms programs. It has transformed seven blighted inner-city lots in Oakland into sustainably managed green spaces that are supervised by community members, provide nutritious food, and instill in the community a long-lasting knowledge and practice of ecological stewardship. In doing so, City Slicker Farms is addressing the roots of several social equity issues, as its programs have helped increase residents' pride and engagement around tangible improvements to their homes and neighborhoods, and who now advocate for more community investment.
When City Slicker Farms was founded in 2001, there was nowhere in West Oakland to buy fresh produce, so it set out to promote community control over food systems and advance local food production through three core programs: Community Market Farms, Backyard Garden, and Urban Farming Education. These programs address food insecurity and health by empowering low-income people to grow food where they live and create access to healthful nutrition in under-resourced neighborhoods over the long-term. Today, City Slicker Farms has eight staff members, eight board members, three urban farms, more than 300 gardens, a weekly farm stand, a productive seedling nursery, and agriculture education programs. It promotes direct community control over food systems and mobilizes vulnerable residents to improve their individual health and the health of their communities by increasing food self-sufficiency.