By Frances Dinkelspiel and Sylvia Paull
Urban Adamah, an urban farm inspired by Jewish beliefs but open to all, moved into its new Berkeley home at Sixth and Harrison streets on Sunday and threw a huge party to celebrate the occasion.
Kids and adults petted goats and chased chickens. They braided flowers to create a sukkah, a temporary shelter for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They made pickles, wax candles and leaf prints, listened to Klezmer music and ate salads made with greens grown at the farm’s former location at 1050 Parker St.
The opening of Urban Adamah right by Codornices Creek further transforms what once was a quiet, dead-end street in West Berkeley. Now it is bustling with people and activity. Fieldwork Brewing Company has a popular tap room across the street from Urban Adamah, and on Sunday people were relaxing at its outside patio bordered by galvanized planters. Kosher winery Covenant sits directly across from the farm, too. Maker’s Work Space is also across the street. UC Berkeley’s University Village in Albany is connected by a footpath.
“It’s a dream,” said Adam Berman, Urban Adamah’s executive director, who raised millions to transform the once-barren U.S. Post Office land into a farm complete with places to gather, play and sleep. “We’re going to do so much here.”
During the last five years, from its former rented property at the intersection of Parker Street and San Pablo Avenue, Urban Adamah has produced and given away about 13,000 pounds of food per year through food banks and its free farmstand. Now that it has moved to such a large site, Berman estimates the farm will eventually distribute close to 50,000 pounds of food annually.
The farm not only offers free produce to underserved communities, it also holds workshops and classes on farming, environmental practices and leadership. In 2016, a summer camp drew 385 campers. There’s also a Hebrew school at the farm, and it holds celebrations for the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. All these programs are open to the public, Jewish or not. The farm even conducts a regular Shabbat service at San Quentin prison.
On Sunday, the promise of the farm was evident. There were a few plots of newly planted land with lettuce and chard just coming up. The farm will actually grow much of its food in solar-heated, hydroponic greenhouses, which will eventually yield three times more produce than seeds planted outside. Berman said they had just moved the chickens over that morning.
Before the public ceremony, about 100 donors gathered under a tent to hear Berman talk about his vision for the farm and the fundraising left to do. Berman and the Urban Adamah board raised around $2 million to buy the property and $6 million of the $8.2 million needed to build out the farm.
Currently on the property are a work center, greenhouses, a chicken coop, goat stall, harvest house and compost center complete with its own wormery, which Berman suggested might be named the Global Worming Center. Urban Adamah is still building bunk houses for its fellows and wants to build an outdoor kitchen and a bathhouse, among other things. In the future, phase 3 of the fundraising campaign, Urban Adamah hopes to construct a 46-bed retreat center on the property, which will generate operating income for the farm.
Urban Adamah to break ground on new West Berkeley farm (09.11.15)
Winemakers scramble to keep up with 2015 harvest (09.02.15)
Bites: Fieldwork Brewing opens in Berkeley, more (02.27.15)
A kosher harvest at Covenant Winery in Berkeley (09.26.14)
Kosher Covenant Wines leaves Napa for Berkeley (04.24.14)
Community farm buys 2+ acres in West Berkeley (05.23.13)
Urban farm Urban Adamah celebrate the harvest (10.17.11)
Faith-based urban farm opens in Berkeley (06.20.11)
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