Ecology Center & Slow Food Collaborate on East Bay Dig In

As the second summer hit the East Bay, dozens of volunteers turned out to help local community-based gardens prepare for the fall in a coordinated day of service. Martin Bourque, Ecology Center Executive Director, and Anna Hillgruber Smith Clark of Slow Food East Bay, thought that Slow Food USA’s National Day of Service, Dig In, would be a great opportunity to bring together the local Slow Food activists and long term community gardeners. Sonia Quintero, the Berkeley Food Policy Council Intern at the Ecology Center, did much of the behind-the-scenes coordinating to make it happen.

At Spiral Gardens, volunteers cleared the fence line along Sacramento Avenue near Ashby Avenue of the aggressive and impressive grape vines blocking the view of passers by, and opened up new space within the nursery. “I worked twice as hard but got ten times as much done” said Daniel Miller, founder and leader of the community nursery and food justice organization. “I also connected with community members who had been looking for an excuse to get involved.”

The Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA) Garden Patch also got love and attention. Volunteers prepared beds for cover crops, started new compost piles, cleared out old crops and weeds, and improved on the garden’s wood burning pizza oven. “It was great. Our youth gardeners were leading small work groups and getting lots done. It was a great opportunity for them to be in a leadership position and for them to share their knowledge and expertise with a broader community,” said Kim Allen, Garden Program Manager at BYA.

At the end of the day, volunteers gathered at BYA’s garden to chat and eat together. Anna provided a delicious stone soup and other plates from this season’s bounty. Tara Esperanza brought her organic ice cream cart to share her much appreciated ice creams in garden flavors such as lemon thyme, raspberry sage, and lavender.

Thanks to everyone for Digging In!

[Photo right to left: Tara Esperanza, Tara’s Organic Ice Cream; Anna Hillgruber Smith Clark, Slow Food East Bay; Kim Allen, Berkeley Youth Alternatives]

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