Spiral Gardens produce stand in jeopardy

Like many nonprofits, it took a while for the downturn in the economy to impact the nursery sales at Spiral Gardens, a community food security project on Sacramento Street in South Berkeley.

But this spring and summer plant sales dropped off dramatically, says co-director Lisa Stephens, and now the nonprofit may be forced to close its weekly produce stand if an infusion of funds is not secured quickly.

The all-volunteer organization is making a direct appeal to residents (striking black and yellow fliers can be found at farmers’ markets around town and at the group’s headquarters).

The gardens are a bright spot in a neighborhood that has seen a spate of violent crimes in recent months, including yesterday’s homicide.

The weekly produce stand offers locally grown, organic produce at cost in a neighborhood where corner liquor stores filled with unhealthy products are a mainstay.

While the stand is geared toward serving low-income residents, it welcomes all comers and only asks that consumers who can afford to pay a little extra when shopping for good quality produce do so.


Still, the Tuesday market, which runs from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., typically runs at a loss. Up until now, the stand has been subsidized by plant sales.

Stephens says the group needs to raise about $10,000 in the next few months to keep the produce stand afloat. The organization’s operating costs run about $4,000 a month.

To meet their goal the group is running a raffle that will be drawn on the winter solstice (December 21). Prizes include a month’s worth of weekly produce, Ecology Center memberships, a $100 gift certificate from Blue Wind Botanical Medicine Clinic, and posters and books from Inkworks Press.

Readers who want to show their support can send donations to: Spiral Gardens, 2830 Sacramento Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, or swing by the produce stand and pick up some raffle tickets along with their greens.

The nursery is also looking for garden equipment donations to replace aging gear.

The executive director of Spiral Gardens, Daniel Miller, was the subject of a recent Berkeley Bites.