Today’s blog post has nothing to do with solar energy and everything to do with solar power in the form of photosynthesis. But mainly I just wanted to share some sick news about a group I’ve long admired that has finally gotten their due (note to readers over the age of 40…”sick” means really really good according to my youthful co-workers)…

City Slicker Farms grows 20,000 pounds of food a year in the backyards and vacant lots of West Oakland, where a third of the residents live under the official poverty line.  Soon, City Slicker will take over a 1.4 acre cleaned-up brownfield and turn it into the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park, complete with vegetable beds, fruit trees, a bee hive, a chicken coop, space for kids to play, and a pay-what-you-can community farm stand.  The Farm promises to be an oasis in an area that is starved not only for food but for safe open space and greenery.  The $4 million to buy the land comes from Proposition 84, a 2006 bond measure that disburses $5.4 billion for park improvements and natural resource preservation.

I remember back in the day when an idealistic young Willow Rosenthal started City Slicker–back then, in 2001, few people were thinking about food justice or the connection between agribusiness and climate change, much less doing anything constructive about it.  Since then, the myriad issues connected to food have exploded–food justice, food safety, food’s carbon footprint, water usage and other environmental impacts.

Not content to let the sun, the rain and other natural forces work their magic, civilization is built on human’s ability to artificially maximize food production using finite and harmful substances like chemical pesticides and fertilizers and exploiting cheap, migratory farm labor. A growing number of people around the world have begun to understand that industrial agriculture is, almost by definition, profoundly unsustainable.  City Slicker Farms is one of many projects that aims to build a healthy and just alternative before the current system collapses.

We’re proud to have City Slicker as neighbors and grateful to them for improving  the lives of so many Oakland residents. Congratulations, City Slicker!

–Erica Etelson

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.