Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 25, 2010

Money grows in raised planting beds

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

More fun with contracts!

Seriously, I never knew how interesting reviewing a list of contracts would be.   So here’s a little one — little as in a fairly small contract — but one that I found fairly amusing.

So I asked the City Clerk’s office for a listing of all contracts below the $75,000 threshold.   It’s all fairly standard stuff, but there were a few that jumped out at me, this was one.   It’s for a “Farmer D Organics” as part of the “urban forest & garden issues.”

According to the contract, we only have $5000 to spend for this consultant from Atlanta to come out and — from what I assume given the type of work Farmer D does — to show us how and where Alameda can plant its very own urban farm.   Look, it’s not that I am against doing this sort of work, there is a fair amount of open space in Alameda and with the Beltline turning over to Alameda’s hands for minimal cost, that would be a perfect place for an urban farm or garden of sorts.

But, Atlanta?  Really?  I’m sure Farmer D is excellent at the work he does, but isn’t the Bay Area sort of the epicenter of the sustainable food movement.   And urban farming has become sort of a phenomenon in the Bay Area, there was even a panel discussion about the issue at the Commonwealth Club a few months ago.   City staff could’t find someone, anyone, local to advise on how and where best to have these urban farms in Alameda?   Instead of spending then entire lump sum of $5000 on actual work being done, I’m sure a fair amount goes toward travel expenses.   Essentially we pay Farmer D himself $150 an hour to sit on a plane to fly out here.   I don’t know how long it takes to fly from Atlanta to Oakland.  Let’s just say it’s four hours.   That’s $600 Alameda bucks to sit around eating peanuts.   In addition to whatever Alameda bucks were shelled out to pay for the ticket itself.  Must be nice.

Now, again, I am sure that Farmer D is a very nice guy and does good work, but I wonder if our own local organic farm run by the Alameda Point Collaborative couldn’t have done exactly the same thing that Farmer D has been hired out to do.    APC has successfully built out an urban farm on Alameda Point growing food for their residents.  I bet they would have had some good ideas for city-wide urban farms.  Not to mention some of the urban farms already in existence in San Francisco and Oakland.   But, I guess it is what it is.

But what makes the hiring of Farmer D so much more delicious is that it turns out that whenever he is in town we have our very own bone fide reality TV star!   That’s right, he was a finalist in the reality TV show: What Chilli Wants.   For those unfamiliar with the show, it is a Bachelor-type show, but with former girl group member Chilli from TLC.   TLC, for those that may not remember sang such hit songs as No Scrubs, Waterfalls, and Creep (not the Radiohead version).

He did not win, or rather, he was not chosen as the ultimate winner by Chilli, this blogger figured that it was because he was so wishy-washy on the subject of religion.   I don’t really know because I didn’t watch the show.  For those that are interested, here is video of Chilli and Farmer D’s first date on the farm.

Anyway, if the City is hiring based on celeb-reality fameness, I would suggest that one real estate flipper dude from that Bravo TV show.  Maybe he can viciously redecorate Alameda Point and “flip” it for some serious cash for Alameda.

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36 Comments

  1. That’s a juicy one. Anything else interesting on the list?

    Comment by Tom Schweich — June 25, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  2. Hi Tom: a few others, but I’ll probably be writing about them individually.

    Make sure you watch the video, although the second date was funnier because it was delightfully awkward.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 25, 2010 @ 8:07 am

  3. I really appreciate the fact that you are always able to “dig up the dirt” and get to the “root” of such odd city spending habits. Hiring an east-coast farming consultant when “all gardening is local” really takes the cake.

    Although I am a gardener myself and a big fan of urban organic farming, I’m not sure I understand how urban farming can drive Alameda’s economic development. (Perhaps it is part of Action Alameda’s plan for “green development” at Alameda Point?)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 25, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  4. Actually organic farms are fast becoming the new “amenity ” being offered in real estate developments. Here’s an interesting article on the subject:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/23/AR2010032304607.html

    While the article states that:

    Most of these projects start with a matchup between a fine old farm to save and a smart developer with a vision — we have no fine old farm to save, and we certainly don’t have a master developer with a vision. SunCal’s plan doesn’t include a organic farm.

    Craig Hartman, Lennar’s master planner for Treasure Island has included a 20 acre organic farm in the Treasure Island plan. The organic farm is just one of many amenities Treasure Island offers.

    Lennar, by the way is doing well. Here’s and interesting article in the Wall Street Journal called Lennar Swings to a Profit:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704911704575326371620605804.html

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 25, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  5. What a doozy! I can’t wait to see how Galant spins this one.

    Comment by alameda — June 25, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  6. Karen Bey, (if it isn’t obvious) the point is that you don’t have to go all the way to Atlanta to find an urban farm consultant.

    Comment by alameda — June 25, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  7. No, actually I thought the point was that it was a contract below the $75K threshold.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 25, 2010 @ 10:24 am

  8. #3. You really are a sarcastic self-serving SOB. For about a year and half I have been reading your comments and besides being condescending in tone, I am not sure how you have time to sleep with all your volunteer activities, bike riding and now to know you are also a gardener. Right now I am pissed at Action Alameda because of the stance on Measure E but I do feel without them you would have tried to stuff the SunCal plan down our throats with no concern for the city or those of us that hate traffic. Oh, and green out at the Point sounds good to me.

    Comment by J.E.A. — June 25, 2010 @ 11:11 am

  9. 8. Forget your meds this AM?

    Comment by Karl — June 25, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  10. #9. Perhaps I did and if that was the case I’m sure you all would find someway to make fun of it.

    Comment by J.E.A. — June 25, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  11. So I guess there wasn’t anything too scandalous on that list.

    Just an incidental note: the soil for the raised beds at Alameda Point had to be trucked in — not surprisingly, I suppose. So AP provides the space for gardens, certainly, but not the planting beds.

    I like the idea of having a community garden too, as Karen mentions — it’s a nice amenity (so long as it isn’t radioactive).

    Comment by dlm — June 25, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  12. I think that it is a wonderful idea to have locally grown food in Alameda. Not too long ago there were farms in Alameda.

    Modern farming, including organic farming, requires a lot of knowledge and expertise. I don’t know why “Farmer D” was chosen. Perhaps the City Manager should be asked before she is tried and convicted in Blog Court.

    The sustainable food movement has a long history in the Bay Area; it isn’t something brand new. Many of the local farms and ranches in the north bay have converted to sustainable organic farming. There was recently an article in the Chronicle about a restaurant in Point Reyes that tries to use only meat, dairy and produce raised locally.

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-06-17/entertainment/21913918_1_menu-osteria-stellina-lamb

    As for that dating show, who would have matched these two up? There may actually be some people left in the USA who don’t want to talk about their religion on national TV.

    Here’s a great video on local ranching and farming in Marin.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 25, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  13. Farmer D has stopped by and visited our farm and Ploughshares Nursery several times as part of the information gathering he has done. He also stopped by the wonderful community garden at Bay/Eagle, and even features some of the plants there on his twitter account.

    The information he was seeking, and his line of questioning seemed to be focused on looking at how local programs such as APC could help promote urban farming, and he definitely got us thinking “outside the box” (sorry for the pun). Could someone close by provide the same level of technical expertise? Probably, but sometimes it takes an outsider to tell you what you already know before you realize you know it. Recently it took bringing Jamie Oliver all the way from England to tell American’s they weren’t eating healthy. Granted the local folks who had been saying that for years felt slighted, but it can be argued that the controversy he created has benefited the discussion around healthy food enormously.

    Likewise, there were no comments when the city council approved developing an urban greening and gardening plan, but now folks are talking and thinking about the implications and possibilities, thanks in part to who was hired to conduct the study.

    Regarding Farmer D’s other persona, I unfortunately was oblivious, much to the chagrin of some of our staff and youth residents, who were falling all over themselves trying to take pictures. I took it as a new found interest in gardening on the part of some of our young women. They have now condemned me as being “way to old to understand anything”.

    Doug Biggs
    Executive Director
    APC

    Comment by Doug Biggs — June 25, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

  14. >>> Recently it took bringing Jamie Oliver all the way from England to tell American’s they weren’t eating healthy.

    Are you serious???

    Comment by Mr. Healthy — June 25, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  15. This guy came all the way from England to find out that he could eat better.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 25, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  16. Think globally, but act and BUY locally!

    Comment by Dennis V. — June 25, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  17. Gee, maybe someone should introduce the ICM to Novella Carpenter.

    http://ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com/

    She runs a farm in Oakland.

    It would be great to see some of the fallow land in Alameda put to good use!

    Comment by Kristen — June 25, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  18. Is this idea for the base?
    I guess it’s going to have to be raised gardens. Isn’t the base a Superfund site?

    Comment by Jennifer — June 25, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  19. While we’re at it, can we open a tool lending library in Alameda? Berkeley has one. Oakland has one.

    Comment by Margaret — June 25, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  20. #18

    I think that there may be a number of agricultural uses for the former base. Some people questioned the concept of a winery at the base…

    It may well be a good location for either the production or processing of food. It is a short boat ride away from the lucrative Ferry Building markets.

    After the recent divisive political campaigns, this is a good opportunity for leadership on an issue that would bring people together. It brings together diverse interests pertaining to jobs, health and the environment. Who doesn’t like food? It is even a religious issue.

    http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/36216/sowing-the-seeds-of-faith-new-jewish-food-movement-takes-root-in-the-bay-ar/

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 25, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  21. Post 18. Hey maybe we should start growing in the soil at the base. I can just imagine tomatoes that glow in the dark and weigh in at ten pounds. giant strawberry’s or talking squash.

    back to Laurens post, do we real need to have someone come out from Atlanta to help us the “food basket” of the world grow organic gardens.

    Comment by John Piziali — June 25, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  22. Who says the base is the only place for a community farm? The Beltline is a good choice, and what about that huge empty lot near the Fruitvale Bridge? Nothing there but a bunch of weeds. Looks like good land. Put it to use!

    Comment by Kristen — June 25, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  23. I understand where you are coming from and aprecaite your humor. I’d like to clarify and comment on a few things you said. You mentioned that I am setting up an urban farm where I am actually helping facilitate a “city-wide urban farm and garden plan”.

    I clearly recognize that APC is a key player in this effort as Executive Director Doug Biggs mentioned in his well written comment above. They are doing amazing work and we are looking at ways to expand their efforts and get them more support.

    I will be the first person to promote “local” when it comes to most things. Though I have a base in Atlanta, I probably spend more time in the Bay Area then I do in Atlanta. Truth be told, I may spend one week a month in Atlanta as I have projects all over the US and beyond.

    I have been working in the Bay Area since before 2000, when I managed the organic farm at Log Cabin Ranch Youth Correctional Facility for the City of San Francisco. Here I ran a vocational traning program similar to Ploughshares and Growing Youth as well as working on community gardens in Bayview Hunters Point and throughout San Francisco. At one point, I was studying Horticulture Therapy at Merrit College.

    It doens’t hurt that my significant other lives in Berkeley, another reason I am spending more time there than Atlanta. Don’t tell Chilli. Just kidding! To clarify that as well. While, I am not much for TV, I decided to take Chilli out for a reality TV date (to the farm) in an attempt to educate more people about the importance of growing local organic food and building more sustainable communities. It did accomplish that, which as Doug mentioned has had a good influence on some of the young girls at Alameda Point. That makes me feel a little better about sacrificing myself on national television.

    Seriously, I am really serving as a catalyst and facilitator to assist Alameda in their efforts grow a more sustainable, socially just and agriculturally rich community and serve as a model for other cities around the country. I applaude the City for their pioneering intiative and for seeking out the best people and partners to help acheive their goals, which I assure have the City’s residents best interests in mind. How many cities are investing time, money and resources an Urban Farm and Garden Plan? Not many, if any! I am honored and thrilled to be part of the team and hope to do such a good job that every city in the country follows suit.

    Lauren, thanks for creating a forum for people to make suggestions for this effort. I would love to hear more of the constructive ideas like Kristen’s comment on the Fruitvale Bridge in an effort to make Alameda a model for urban sustainable agriculture and social justice.

    Feel free to email me at farmerd@farmerd.com with more ideas of places, people, businesses and non-profits that could benefit from and contribute to an urban farm and garden initiative or to meet up next time I’m in Alameda to share ideas.

    Biodynamically yours,

    Farmer D

    http://www.farmerd.com

    Comment by Daron 'Farmer D' Joffe — June 26, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  24. Kristen. I believe the city has control of the Beltline, however the lot by the Fruitvale Bridge is privately owned.

    Comment by John Piziali — June 26, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  25. 23. good point about differentiating private from public. Symbolically and pragmatically, I think both the the Point and Beltline are great ideas and raised beds side step the toxics issues, which Beltline likely also has, no?

    20. I challenge your assertion that the blocking of Measure E passage was in any way decisive. And even though the total % for defeat of B was decisive, relative to E that election had a much lower total turn out of voters and the YES votes for E were greater numerically than NO votes for B. Where’s your 54%-47% split? Wishful thinking.

    Don’t try and claim some huge mandate for implementation of Plan B on the AUSD master Plan. It’s what we are stuck with by default, just like the entire state budget. How many of those master plan meetings did YOU attend, any?

    Comment by M.I. — June 26, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  26. 23. I meant to acknowledge your sentiment about looking to unite the community I just want to disabuse the notion the school funding issue is now resolved and will heal over on account of some gardens.

    Comment by M.I. — June 26, 2010 @ 11:37 am

  27. I went to the top of this item to see what it is really about. Its about gardening. So here goes, My yard is not really big but in it I have the following. Apple tree, fig tree, lemon tree, bay leave, rosemary, basil,cilantro,tomatoes, lettuce,sage,and one other that slips my mind at the moment.

    Why in the hell do we need public lands to garden in when most of our back yards are full of weeds.

    Comment by John Piziali — June 26, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

  28. FYI folks, Farmer D responded here…his comments went to spam, I just uncovered it this morning.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 27, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  29. John P….not to mention our front yards are probably filled with water intensive grass too. Or weeds.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 27, 2010 @ 7:13 am

  30. Here is a recent report from UC Davis regarding urban agriculture in Alameda County.

    http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/docs/urban_agriculture09.pdf

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 27, 2010 @ 10:34 am

  31. 27.
    No, John this item isn’t about gardening. It’s about the City contracting some hayseed from Atlanta to show the hayseed wannabe’s in this city how to grow a quote, unquote urban garden even though there are plenty of home grown hayseed wannabe’s right here in Mayberry who, like you, know full well how to sprout a bud…so better to waste city’s money on our own hayseed teachers rather than Atlanta’s.

    As if a garden knows whether it’s urban or rural or the planter is Georgian or Alamedan.

    But, like you, I have a garden in the back yard. Mine’s a total waste of time…but that’s what time’s for anyway. Snails, slugs, bugs, squirrels, birds, possums, raccoons, mice, wildebeests and grizzly bears get first dibs on everything we grow and the elephants tromp on the rest while we’re asleep…then leave nothing for us but fertilizer.

    We get our eats down the street.

    Comment by jayare — June 27, 2010 @ 11:10 am

  32. Here’s something re a very widespread,successful community gardening collaborative in Berkeley:

    Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative

    http://www.ecologycenter.org/bcgc/

    Who We Are: BCGC is composed of diverse community garden members who share a common commitment to organic, urban agriculture and access to healthy food for all residents of Berkeley.

    What We Do: By providing a forum for mutual support and the sharing of common resources, BCGC assists and protects existing gardens, facilitates the formation of new gardens, and advocates food security initiatives in our local schools and city.

    ***

    Berkeey has wonderful “art garden” too, a large site w/ raised beds and rustic art scattered around. I can’t find any pictures here taht do it justice, but here’s a link:

    http://www.karllinn.org/wiki/index.php?title=Peralta_Garden_Commons

    Comment by dlm — June 27, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  33. John Piziali,

    Even in pastoral Alameda we don’t all have yards. I was in Philadelphia in May and as many things as they can screw up in that town, I have to admit there are people who manage to live there who do great stuff, like the empty lots in South Philly full of edible food.

    In 1976 I lived on Hearst St in Berkeley and there were a couple real old guys who sat in a broken down car most of the day in the winter just hanging out watching the world go by. They were very old Italian gentlemen who had grown up in the neighborhood and described watching a horse drawn plow in the very same area when they were kids!

    One guy, who literally walked in a shuffle of tiny tiny steps, spent days in our yard first removing black berries and then planting a garden. For allowing him access we were up to our ears in fava beans and zucchini for weeks. We were in total awe of this old man who obviously liked to garden but also had very little money.

    Comment by M.I. — June 27, 2010 @ 11:57 am

  34. #33

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 27, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  35. I understand where you are coming from and appreciate your humor. I’d like to clarify and comment on a few things you said. You mentioned that I am working on setting up an urban farm in Alameda, whereas I am actually helping facilitate a “city-wide urban farm and garden plan”, which may include a number of urban farms.

    I clearly recognize that APC is a key player in this effort as Executive Director Doug Biggs mentioned in his well written comment above. They are doing amazing work and we are looking at ways to expand their efforts and get them more support.

    I will be the first person to promote “local” when it comes to most things. Though I have a base in Atlanta, I probably spend more time in the Bay Area then I do in Atlanta. Truth be told, I may spend one week a month in Atlanta as I have projects all over the US and beyond.

    I have been working in the Bay Area since before 2000, when I managed the organic farm at Log Cabin Ranch Youth Correctional Facility for the City of San Francisco. Here I ran a vocational traning program similar to Ploughshares and Growing Youth as well as working on community gardens in Bayview Hunters Point and throughout San Francisco. At one point, I was studying Horticulture Therapy at Merrit College. More currently, I am working with a design firm based in San Francisco on a project in South Carolina! Ironic I guess. The San Fran based firm is one of the best and my client in South Carolina wants them for that reason, rightfully so.

    As far as me being a local, sounds nice! Especially considering that my significant other lives in Berkeley, another reason I am spending more time there than Atlanta. Don’t tell Chilli. Just kidding! I’d like to clarify the Chilli Factor as well seen as though you brought it up.

    While, I am not much for TV, I decided to take Chilli out for a reality TV date (to the farm) in an attempt to educate more people about the importance of growing local organic food and building more sustainable communities. It did accomplish that, which as Doug mentioned (comment 13) has had a good influence on some of the young girls at Alameda Point. That makes me feel a little better about sacrificing myself on national television.

    Seriously, I am really serving as a catalyst and facilitator to assist Alameda in their efforts grow a more sustainable, socially just and agriculturally rich community and serve as a model for other cities around the country. I applaud the City for their pioneering initiative and for seeking out the best people and partners to help achieve their goals, which I assure have the City’s residents best interests in mind. How many cities are investing time, money and resources an Urban Farm and Garden Plan? Not many, if any! I am honored and thrilled to be part of the team and hope to do such a good job that every city in the country follows suit.

    Lauren, thanks for creating a forum for people to make suggestions for this effort. I would love to hear more of the constructive ideas like Kristen’s comment on the Fruitvale Bridge in an effort to make Alameda a model for urban sustainable agriculture and social justice.

    Feel free to email me at farmerd@farmerd.com with more ideas of places, people, businesses and non-profits that could benefit from and contribute to an urban farm and garden initiative or to meet up next time I’m in Alameda to share ideas.

    Biodynamically yours,

    Farmer D

    http://www.farmerd.com

    Comment by Daron 'Farmer D' Joffe — June 28, 2010 @ 3:54 am

  36. Alameda already has our own gardening groups. Why are we wasting money on a self-promoter from Atlanta?

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/alamedajournal/2010/03/19/alameda-backyard-growers-get-organized/

    http://backyardgrowers.spruz.com/

    http://backyardgrowers.wordpress.com/

    Anne Marie Gallant is wasting the city’s money on grandstanding BS, instead of using it to better the city and spending it with local, city-owned and run businesses to help advance Alameda. In what possible way is this right?

    She needs to be held accountable for her practices and be relieved of her duties ASAP.

    Comment by Gillico — June 28, 2010 @ 9:42 am


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