Tag Archives: Ecology Center

ICE frees Berkeley man facing deportation to China

Photo: Ecology Center
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By  / KQED News

In what appears to be an abrupt reversal, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have released a Berkeley recycling program director from detention.

Daniel Maher, a convicted felon who has lived under threat of deportation to China for nearly 15 years, was released from ICE custody Friday morning after spending over two months in various immigrant detention facilities around California, according to his attorney, Anoop Prasad with the Asian Law Caucus.

ICE detained Maher in early June as part of a broader crackdown on Chinese nationals subject to deportation, and undocumented immigrants with prior serious criminal convictions. Maher, who immigrated legally to the United States from his native Macau when he was just three years’ old, fit both descriptions and was suddenly faced with the possibility that he’d be sent to a country he’s never known. He speaks neither Mandarin nor Cantonese. … Continue reading »

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With café, market spot it’s Red Bay Coffee’s moment

Early rendering of the Red Bay coffee shop that will be at Hive in Uptown Oakland. Image: Gensler:NAF Korea
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Red Bay Coffee is on a roll. The socially conscious East Bay roaster is working on opening its first café in Uptown Oakland, having exceeded its $80,000 Kickstarter goal last month — the most successful coffee campaign ever on the crowdfunding site, according to Red Bay founder Keba Konte. Shortly afterwards, the startup emerged victorious in a hotly contested race to be the sole coffee vendor at Berkeley’s downtown farmers market — the place Blue Bottle, now a poster child for third-wave coffee, got its start.

In addition, Red Bay has launched a regular coffee popup on Fridays on the patio at Miss Ollie’s in Swan’s Marketplace, following a guest appearance at the Caribbean soul food spot during a shoot with TV star Anthony Bourdain.

It’s no wonder that Red Bay is busting out of the cozy ‘coffee dojo’ which is the heart of the startup’s operations.

“We’re remodeling now,” Konte said of the workspace which he carved out under his Victorian home in Fruitvale to house the company. “We need to maximize the space until we can get proper location.” … Continue reading »

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Staffer at Berkeley’s Ecology Center faces deportation for two-decade-old felony conviction

Photo: Ecology Center
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Berkeley nonprofit employee Daniel Maher is being held in detention awaiting a possible deportation to China, where he lived for the first three years of his life, because of a felony conviction from more than two decades ago.

Maher, 41, is the recycling director of the Ecology Center, where he has worked for nearly ten years. He leads a recycling crew and teaches at-risk youth about recycling in the center’s Youth Environmental Academy.

“I have been ripped away from my family and loved ones,” Maher said in a statement read over the phone to Ecology Center Deputy Director Debbie Beyea. Although he was not born here, he said, “I feel as American as anybody else who has felt the satisfaction of contributing to it.” Maher cannot read, write or speak Chinese.  … Continue reading »

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Red Bay and Highwire vie for farmers market spot

Taste testing coffee at the Saturday Berkeley farmers market. Photo: Galen Panger/Twitter
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The coffee options at the Berkeley farmers markets are in flux. Earlier this year, regular vendor Blue Bottle Coffee announced that it would no longer be selling its coffee at Bay Area farmers markets, saying that it wanted to make room for newer, upstart businesses.

In Berkeley, those businesses have turned out to be Red Bay Coffee Roasters and Highwire Coffee Roasters. We received a photo tip on Twitter that the Ecology Center was holding a taste test at the Saturday market between the two Oakland-based coffee companies. The Ecology Center’s Ben Feldman confirmed that both companies were indeed in the running. “Both companies make excellent coffee and we are excited to give one of them an opportunity to sell at our market,” he said in an email. “We expect to have a decision made soon.” … Continue reading »

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Soda tax brings needed cash to gardening program

BUSD's cooking and gardening program has been in need of financial support since federal funding was slashed in 2013. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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The Berkeley Unified School District’s beleaguered cooking and gardening program will see a welcome injection of funds as a result of revenues accrued from Measure D, the so-called soda tax, approved by city residents last November.

On Thursday, June 4, a panel appointed to allocate taxes collected from the sugar-sweetened beverage tax recommended $250,000 be advanced to the cooking and gardening program.

It was announced May 18 that the soda tax had raised $116,000 in its first month of operation.

The Berkeley City Council is set to vote to approve the panel’s recommendation by June 30, while the Berkeley School Board is slated to finalize its budget June 10 with the knowledge that the funding is essentially secured. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Shiba Ramen, KoJa Kitchen to Public Market

Emeryville Public Market where a new Off The Grid food truck market will launch on Aug. 23. Photo:  Public Market Emeryville
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Openings, closings

EMERYVILLE PUBLIC MARKET TO GAIN TWO NEW RESTAURANTS Emeryville’s Public Market is about to get even more interesting, food-wise. The shopping and dining center added a full line-up of food trucks earlier this year, which will soon be joined by two new restaurants in the market hall portion of the building: Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen. We brought you news of the Shiba Ramen project last week; the fast-casual ramen shop is the brainchild of two ex-chemists who plan on bringing Japanese style service and noodle soups to the neighborhood. KoJa Kitchen will be the second brick-and-mortar location for the Korean-Japanese fusion food truck of the same name. (Its first location is at 2395 Telegraph Ave., at Channing Way, in Berkeley.) “We’re excited to welcome Koja Kitchen and Shiba Ramen to Public Market Emeryville,” said City Center Realty Partners’ Co-Founder Mark Stefan in a prepared statement. “They embody our vision for the new Food Hall — unique purveyors who want to be part of the community.” Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen are both part of a larger renovation project. This first phase includes adding food stalls and reconditioning the existing structure. The second phase of the project, expected to wrap up by this summer, includes installing a living wall, replacing the ball-pit with a new children’s play area, upgrading the entries, and putting up local artwork. Public Market Emeryville is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with Shiba Ramen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Connect with KoJa Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Ecology Center gets $3.7 million grant

Shoppers at the Tuesday Farmers' Market. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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The federal government awarded one of its first Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants to the Ecology Center on Wednesday, which will allow the Berkeley group to greatly expand its program to get fresh fruits and vegetables to people who use food stamps.

The Ecology Center got a $3.7 million, two-year grant, one of more than $31.5 million in grants handed out nationally to assist people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Mandela Marketplace, in Oakland was the other local recipient. It received$422,500.

“Our goal is to increase the health of Californians by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables and to provide additional, sustainable economic development for these pioneering farmers who are at our farmers markets,” said Martin Bourque, the executive director of the 45-year-old Ecology Center. … Continue reading »

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City wants to move North Berkeley farmers market

Farmers Market
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Citing safety concerns, the city of Berkeley wants to move Thursday’s North Berkeley farmers market to a location a few hundred feet south-east of its current site on the stretch of Shattuck Avenue that runs between Shattuck Place and Rose Street. The Ecology Center, which runs all of Berkeley’s farmers markets, is resisting the move, saying the proposed new site, on the service road in front of businesses such as Saul’s Deli and Masse’s bakery, presents problems of its own.

Visitors to the market in recent weeks have been asked to sign petitions to lobby to keep the local food stalls where they are.

Discussions about the location and safety of the 11-year old Gourmet Ghetto market, which attracts an average of 1,800 people a week, have been ongoing for many months, according to both the city and the Ecology Center. The talks appear to have reached something of a stalemate, however. … Continue reading »

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Market report: Mandarins and their descendants

Guru Ram nectarines. Photo- William Newton
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Fall and winter fruit is officially here! Cold-weather varieties include pears, pomegranates, persimmons, dates, and the most diverse of them all: citrus.

Currently available are lemons, pomellos, grapefruit, and of course, the mandarin orange. This small fruit packs a large flavor, and, despite its popularity, is often mistaken for its descendants: the clementine and tangerine. The latter fruits are actually “cultivars” of the mandarin, meaning they are mandarin oranges that have been bred for a desired trait.. … Continue reading »

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Market Report: Winter squash offer beauty, variety

La Tercera squash photo by William Newton
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From the classic tan butternut squash to the brightly colored sweet dumpling, winter squash come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. In general, winter squash have tough outer rinds with sweet-tasting inner flesh and are conveniently interchangeable in recipes.

Despite their name, winter squash are harvested during the start of fall, and can last for extensive periods of time without rotting if stored properly. Their long shelf-life and beautiful colors make for charming fall décor.

The most well-known variety of winter squash is the pumpkin, but you’d be best leaving it for carving into a jack o’lantern. Most commercially available pumpkin pie fillings are made not with pumpkin, but other, sweeter, varieties of winter squash.

Winter squash are incredibly versatile. In addition to sweet dishes like pies, they taste excellent baked in savory dishes as well. … Continue reading »

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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg donates $85,000 to support Berkeley’s proposed soda tax

Michael Bloomberg
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who fought unsuccessfully to establish a cap on the size of soda portions sold in that city, has donated $85,000 to the Yes on Measure D campaign.

His contribution – the largest the soda tax advocates have gotten to date – is one of three significant donations made by national groups in recent days, according to Josh Daniels, the co-chair of the campaign. The American Heart Association recently gave $23,000 and the Center for Science in the Public Interest kicked in $15,000. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Rosamunde Sausage and Plum expand, more

Rosamunde Sausage & Grill will open in Oakland's Temescal. Photo: Rosamunde
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Openings, closings…

SAUSAGE GRILL TO TEMESCAL Rosamunde Sausage Grill is set to open in the old Good Bellies Café space at 4659 Telegraph Ave. It’s the second East Bay location for the sausage and craft beer purveyor, which is also at Swan’s Marketplace in Old Oakland. Inside Scoop SF reports that owner Josh Margolis thinks Temescal’s restaurant row, with all its buzz, is “a great place to be.” It’s the fifth Rosamunde location — others are in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Rosamunde Sausage Grill will be at 4659 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Connect with Rosamunde on Facebook and Twitter.

UME IS NO MORE It’s only been the blink of an eye, but Oakland’s Ume, next door to Plum Bar, both part of the Daniel Patterson Group empire, has been shuttered. It will re-open as an expanded Plum Bar & Restaurant, according to the Bay Area News Group. Plum became Japanese-centric Ume — Japanese for “plum” —  just four months ago, while Plum Bar next door continued as was. The newly configured spot will offer a seasonal menu of “Americana flavors,” including biscuit sandwiches, Plum Bar burgers, and soft-serve desserts from the Malted, a hit at San Francisco’s Alta CA, another Patterson eatery. A Patterson Group rep told Inside Scoop SF that Ume was “always meant to be a pop-up to see if that format/style worked for the neighborhood,” and that ultimately it was decided “that expanding Plum Bar made the most sense for the community.” Plum Bar is at 2216 Broadway (near 22nd Street) in Oakland. Connect with Plum Bar on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Shrek The Musical continues at Berkeley Playhouse through Aug. x. photo Ken Levin
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SHREK THE MUSICAL Shrek the Musical continues at Berkeley Playhouse through Aug. 3, including several performances on Saturday July 12 and Sunday July 13. This “silly, modern-day fairytale,” described as “a visual adventure” and “highly entertaining” by local reviewers, tells the story of everyone’s favorite ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that friendship and love aren’t only found in fairy tales. The large adult and youth cast is directed and choreographed by Matthew McCoy with music direction by Rachel Robinson. Visit Berkeley Playhouse for dates and times, including several “pay what you can” performances. … Continue reading »

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