A Berkeley forum tackles the legacy of slavery on African-Americans’ relationship with food production, food insecurity, and the whiteness of the food justice movement, among many other topics.
It started with a “For Sale” sign, prominently displayed to traffic whizzing up and down Sacramento Street in South Berkeley. Next came a formidable black fence surrounding a relatively small pizza-slice of land smack in front of Spiral Gardens, a popular nonprofit community garden project at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon streets. The fence blocks the garden’s main entrance.
The aptly named Willow Rosenthal grew up around trees in Sonoma County in a community that farmed its own food. Raised by hippies who didn’t have a lot of money, she nonetheless ate well. She also learned how to grow her own food by working on an organic farm and for a local nursery.
For four years Kim Allen has served as garden program manager for Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA), which provides a minimum-wage, internship program for socio-economically challenged adolescents ages 14 to 18. Some come to the garden through word-of-mouth from family or friends, others as part of mandated community service.
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.