Tag Archives: Ecology Center

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

People's Café at 2015 Shattuck Ave. is now closed. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darling
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PEOPLE’S CAFÉ CLOSED People’s Café, at 2015 Shattuck Ave. (at University) in downtown Berkeley has closed to make way for two new businesses moving into the ground floor of the WeWork Berkeley building. As we have reported, Ippudo NY ramen restaurant and Blue Bottle coffee shop are moving in there. With its late opening hours and selection of cheap eats, from bagels through sandwiches, People’s Café was a favorite among Cal students. Its lease expired about a month ago, according to architect Ben Farrell who is responsible for getting the two Soma Capital-owned spaces ready for their new tenants. Farrell said the café was given an extended grace period until construction began at the corner spot. Ippudo will be at 2118 University and Blue Bottle at 2015 Shattuck. Farrell added that, if all goes well, Blue Bottle may be able to offer outdoor seating on a widened sidewalk, depending how quickly the Shattuck Square improvement project, which calls for a more pedestrian-friendly environment in the area, is implemented. … Continue reading »

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Council approves $1.5M to fight soda consumption

Two high-school students on their lunch break carry food and drink out of the McDonald’s on University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo, taken on Monday Oct. 20, 2014, by Gael McKeon
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Officials voted Tuesday night to step up the fight against sugary drinks in Berkeley by boosting public health staffing, helping pay for school nutrition programs and funding grants to help limit the impacts of, and access to, sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million from the general fund in the coming fiscal year to those efforts. The vote was in response to a request from a citizen board, the “Sugar Sweetened Beverage Products Panel of Experts,” which has been working since last May to come up with recommendations to guide the city following the successful passage of Measure D, a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on drinks with added sweeteners such as sodas, and energy and coffee drinks.

Berkeley was lauded as the first city in the nation to pass a tax on sugary drinks. The measure was approved with 75% of the vote in November 2014.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the soda tax.

Since tax collection began last May, the city has brought more than $1.2 million into the general fund, staff said Tuesday night. Council members said they want to do their best to align any spending plans with tax revenues, though all the money is technically part of the general fund. … Continue reading »

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‘Wasted’: A novel set in Berkeley’s recycling world

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John Byrne Barry has a thing for trash.

Barry lived in Berkeley for 30 years, served on the board of the Ecology Center, and wrote about recycling issues for local publications, including the East Bay Express. But he found the world of recycling so intriguing that he couldn’t get it out of his mind. The result is the recently published mystery (Barry dubs it “green noir”) Wasted, set among the cans, bottles and newspapers Berkeley residents set out on the curb.

In Wasted, Berkeley reporter Brian Hunter investigates the “recycling wars,” finds the body of his friend Doug crushed in an aluminum bale and hunts down the murderer, all the while trying to win the heart of Barb, Doug’s former lover, now a suspect in his murder. Part love triangle, part midlife crisis and part political satire, Wasted also explores themes of reinvention, transition and discarding that no longer serve us.

Barry has two upcoming readings from Wasted. He will be at Urban Ore at 900 Murray St. on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., and at Mo’Joe Cafe at 2517 Sacramento St. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 3 p.m. Berkeleyside caught up with Barry, who now lives in Mill Valley, to ask a few questions. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Herb n’ Chicken, Spats, Grand Fare Market

Evan Cross (left) and Cyrus Cross (right) at Herb n' Chicken, which is now open in the Gourmet Ghetto. Photo: Kate Williams
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Openings, closings…

HERB N’ CHICKEN OFFICIALLY OPENS TODAY We’ve got more details on the restaurant moving into the former Source Mini location in Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden. Called Herb n’ Chicken, the new spot has been in soft opening this week. Its grand opening is today. Herb n’ Chicken will offer a substantial salad bar, organic Rosie’s rotisserie chicken with eight dipping sauces, and a few other items like French fries with lemon verbena, macaroni and cheese, and marinated tempeh. Herb n’ Chicken is a project from Farm League Design and Management, the team behind TigerlilyEast Bay Spice Company and the Westbrae Biergarten. Farm League’s Joel DiGiorgio told NOSH that the restaurant will offer both grab-and-go signature salad options, including a “Vegan Kitchen Sink” option, as well as a build-your-own menu. Full rotisserie chickens as well as eat-in chicken plates will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Farm League has brought over Tigerlily sous chef Josh Gjersand to manage the kitchen. Herb n’ Chicken is at 1511 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine Street), Berkeley. Continue reading »

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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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