UC Gill Tract Community Farm

The 1.5-acre UC Gill Tract Community Farm is a university-community farming partnership jointly managed by a diverse team of community members, UC researchers, staff and students. Launched with a family planting day on Earth Day 2014, the urban farm is one of only a handful of agricultural learning hubs in the Bay Area.

Since the town-gown venture began, more than 20,000 pounds of food have been produced there and distributed. In exchange for weeding, planting and watering, anyone can stop by the site at the corner of San Pablo and Marin avenues in Albany and harvest fresh, organic produce or pick up some from the farm stand. Fruits and vegetables also are given to more than 30 organizations, including the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and area senior centers and homeless shelters.

At free Sunday workshops open to all, topics include ecological farming methods, food safety, composting, supporting bee populations, making jam and kimchi and using flowers to dye fabric and yarn. Other agricultural education programs focus on food justice, youth development and creating local wealth and community ownership.

Working groups collaborate on fundraising, farm management and other tasks. The garden operates with small grants awarded for its research, education and outreach projects.

University researchers collect data on everything from produce yield to the volunteers demographics. In addition to a part-time farm manager and a part-time community liaison, the garden flourishes with the help of volunteers, UC Berkeley student interns, cooperative extension specialists and advisers, and faculty experts.

Seed grants from the campuss Berkeley Food Institute (no hyperlink) also are funding research at the farm and at other UC Berkeley gardens on cultural foods, and access to them, in the Bay Area and beyond. The first projects purpose is to fight poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition and diet-related diseases through scaling up production and exchange of healthy cultural foods and food traditions. The second aims to diversify diets through the production and promotion of highly nutritious drought-tolerant millet grain in California.

The garden has hopes of expanding to include more engagement with K-12 youth and a UC student-led summer camp.