It’s a culmination of our community assets (e.g. abandoned lots, dedicated people, Bottoms Up Community Garden, etc. ) and a scalable model that has led us to the west coast expansion of Fleet Farming. Here in West Oakland, we find ourselves at the epicenter of a community that cannot easily access fresh, organic, nor local produce. With that being said, we have the potential to change the status quo and address our problems with proven solutions; one of them being Fleet Farming. This past weekend, we commissioned our first farmlette.
I must admit, the Fleet Farming Toolkit has provided us with the much needed acumen to successfully kickstart the program. Insight into community organizing, growing, processing, distributing and selling has empowered us to have the foresight for sustaining our growth. With that being said, a challenge we’ve faced here in West Oakland is the soil contamination levels due to heavy manufacturing here in the mid-1900’s. If we replicate the Orlando model of solarizing and tilling into the existing soil, high levels of trace metals could potentially bioaccumulate into the food! Yuck.
As a result, we’ve partnered with a local tree cutting company, who typically has to pay to dump their woodchips, and offered our sites for free so they may dump heaps of wood chips; thus creating a 12″ base above the existing surface. This ensures that roots do not reach the existing soil and our food is grown properly. Once that infrastructure is in place, we build above ground rows using a nutrient dense soil, organic sawdust from a local lumber yard and compost blend from wine country (1 hour north). Tip: the extra saw dust assists us with moisture retention in our drought-stricken local. Next, we installed the microdrip irrigation system (automated for dusk/dawn watering with a timer) and sowed seeds. Will check back with you in a month or two to show the progress!