You’ve probably seen the marketing flags hanging along Solano and San Pablo in Albany, with a single word – “Generous,” “Abundant,” “Radiant,” etc. – followed by the tagline, “Simply Albany.” Each banner sports an evocative image geared to holiday shopping.
The image that got me thinking is the cornucopia spilling with fresh fruits and vegetables on the banner marked “Abundant.”
Apart from the fact that for many residents Albany is far from abundant or generous – many residents are spending half their income or more on rent or mortgage – the egregious aspect of this image for me is that the only commercial provider of fresh produce in Albany is Safeway.
Safeway has their own, questionable, organic line, (see http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/FarmID_126.html), and they price it to push out competing local farmers who grow food that is organic in the real sense – respecting soil, ecosystems, livestock and farm workers.
On the other hand, the unique partnership that is the UC-Gill Tract Community Farm, right on the corner of San Pablo and Marin Avenues – with its rows of lush vegetables year-round, its invitation to the local community to participate, its weekly “Pay-What-You Can” market stand (Sundays 2 – 4 pm in winter) – plays an important role in Albany and the surrounding communities, and gives Albany an opportunity to support a veritable cornucopia on its doorstep.
While the University pays for all tools and materials at the farm – including 8′ high deer fencing, organic seeds and greenhouse space – and provides staff and several regular interns, they need the community to step up and help support the farm manager. Those of us involved with the farm would also like to see him paid for the actual hours he works, currently about five times more than the quarter-time he’s paid for.
The farm operation is complex and multifaceted, and the farm manager’s duties include planning, starting, planting, tending and harvesting multiple varieties of vegetables, greeting and orienting visitors, organizing volunteers, tracking volunteer hours, hosting visiting groups, and collaborating with workshop leaders, to name just a few. There are several supportive working groups, but the farm manager is on the ground for every hour the farm is open and then some.
I propose that the City – as well as individual residents – consider making a regular contribution to Jon’s paycheck, to show their support for this one-of-a-kind institution right in our midst and make good Albany’s claim to the image of an abundant cornucopia.
A seed-money project to raise funds is running until December 16 and can be found online at http://www.seedmoney.org/en/projects/26432-UC-Gill-Tract-Community-Farm/updates/4216
Donations are tax-deductible.
Beyond that, please contact Sundeep Ghuman, chair of the fundraising committee, at <email@example.com>.