The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation hosted their national public health conference in Oakland last month, and reached out to the Ecology Center to host a tour to visit local food justice sites. Ecology Center’s Executive Director, Martin Bourque, led participants through an overview of the rich history of food justice and school & community gardens in Berkeley.
On the tour, Dr. Vicki Alexander joined Bourque to share the story of Berkeley’s groundbreaking soda tax, which has worked to increase the price of soda in Berkeley while raising money for Berkeley public schools’ cooking and gardening program.
The tour also visited two sites that are leading food justice and health education in Berkeley and beyond. First was the model public school garden Edible Schoolyard, where middle schoolers have had cooking and gardening integrated into their education for the past 20 years. The project, founded by Alice Waters, has become a national hub of best practices for teaching where food comes from.
Just a few blocks away the tour stopped at Spiral Gardens, a community garden and nursery on two parcels of public land that were formerly a railway right of way. Spiral Gardens seeks to make healthy, nutritious food affordable while making use of urban soils and promotes a strong local food system through education and advocacy.
For a snapshot of some of the topics we explored, check out this guide we created for the day that includes a brief overview of this history in Berkeley, and some findings from the most recent Berkeley Health Status report. Thank you to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the conference participants who joined us!
All photos ©2015 Michael Short.