Oakland Community Gardening Program

Organic and Accessible Produce

The Gardens at Lake Merritt are certainly an important resource in the Oakland community. However, although they provide an edible garden and gardening workshops, visitors do not have an opportunity to develop their own farms. Instead, Oakland's Community Gardening Program (OCGP) allows residents to establish and cultivate their own gardens. OCGP was established in 1968 and is run by the Office of Parks and Recreation (OPR). The gardening program covers 32 square feet and consists of ten rental plots. To obtain a plot, individuals must contact the OPR to determine whether or not there are any available spots. Oakland residents are given special priority.

The OPR is passionate about ensuring that residents have increased access to organic produce. OCGP is “an organic program . . . [that uses] no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers” on the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers that are grown in the gardens. [1] Organic produce is often rather expensive. As such, it can be difficult for low-income families to afford fruits and vegetables that are not only fresh but also organic. In that way, OCGP is an important resource because individuals can rent a garden space for only $30 a year. [2] This relatively low cost makes the gardens an accessible option for many Oakland residents.

The OPR has also partnered with several schools and nonprofits organizations—e.g., Stonehurst Edible Schoolyard, Phat Beets Produce, and People UnitEd for a Better Life In Oakland (PUEBLO)— to create six other gardens. These gardens are used by a diverse group of participants who speak multiple languages and have a variety of ethnicities. The OPR created these gardens to “help [residents] grow food for themselves and their families, at no cost to participate.” [3]

The Office of Parks and Recreation provides a variety of community events as well. Oakland’s Community Gardening Program offers afterschool and summer programs for young people to teach them how to garden. And OCGP has monthly parties at the garden plots to foster increased community engagement.

Cite this Page:

Zenzele Olatunji , “Oakland Community Gardening Program,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/95.
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