Berkeley urban farm moves to permanent West Berkeley location

Adam Berman/Courtesy

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Urban Adamah, an educational farm and community center, moved to its permanent location at 1151 Sixth St. this month after spending six years at its southwest Berkeley site.

Through the integration of Jewish spirituality and sustainable agriculture, the nonprofit organization aims to build an altruistic community, supply healthy food to the underserved and educate people in order to increase their ability to provide for themselves. The farm, though open to all, is inspired by three core Jewish values of “ahava,” “hesed” and “tzedek,” which translate to love, compassion and justice, respectively.

“None of our programs are specifically for people who are Jewish,” said Adam Berman, executive director at Urban Adamah. “Three areas of our work besides Jewish tradition are mindfulness, social action and sustainable agriculture.”

According to Berman, the new 2-acre farm at Sixth and Harrison streets will be completely solar-powered, with two greenhouses and a commercial kitchen. Additionally, it will have housing for faculty members and fellows as well as lodging for guests participating in educational programs.

Berman said he is thankful to members of the community for their generous donations that allowed his organization to buy its new property in December 2013.

The majority of organizations like Urban Adamah that run as nonprofits are supported by donations from foundations and individuals, according to the Executive Director at Berkeley Food Institute Ann Thrupp. Thrupps added that some gardens and farms sell a part of their produce to generate cash flow and cover costs.

Now, having moved into a bigger farm, Berman said he is optimistic that Urban Adamah will produce three times the amount it previously did, adding that the organization hopes to host more than double the amount of people for its onsite programs.

“I think Urban Adamah is a good example of a community coming together and creating a space for education and community development — one of the things that urban agriculture excels at,” said Joshua Arnold, a UC Berkeley doctoral student who has done research at the farm’s former site, in an email.

According to Arnold, despite the benefits provided by urban farms such as nutritious food productivity, environmental education and mental and physical exercise for participants, these organizations face challenges in access to land and capital.

“I believe the biggest challenge is getting folks who have access to these resources to understand why we need to incorporate productive green spaces into the urban landscape and provide an incentive for keeping the soil unpaved,” Arnold said in an email.

Urban Adamah donates 90 percent of its produce through a weekly Free Farm Stand and hopes to open it to the public at its new location every Wednesday at 11 a.m. beginning November.

Contact Parth Vohra at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @ParthVohra622.