I would like to invite anyone and everyone involved in Contra Costa's urban agriculture scene in all of its many facets including:

Community Gardening
School Gardening
Horticultural Therapy
Urban Gleaning
Foodscaping
Urban Farming
Farm Circles
Farmers Markets
Etc. 

... to a gather gathering/conference/meeting at the SCOCO office. 

My goals for this (first annual) gathering/meeting would be to 1) create a forum for learning, networking and sharing, 2) inventory the urban ag. scene around the County, 3) explore ways to expand and institutionalize successful projects and proven urban ag. programs in Contra Costa, and 4) inspire each other! This is not about gardening technique, this is about community organizing.

Format:
1. Introductions all around
2. Guest Presenter: Me! (see below)
3. Round-robin style presentations of five to ten minutes (photos please!) about everyone's projects and programs. Think: an open mike for organizers (with a moderator!) 
4. Open discussion and idea exchange

To kick things off, I will give a presentation called "Managing the Urban Foodscape - A Showcase of Contra Costa's Urban Gardening Projects of the 70s and 80s" including Eco-House, Project Glean, Howe Homestead Park, Supervisor Nancy Fahden's Foodscape Project, and the Contra Costa Community Gardening Program, along with the county's first school gardens, horticultural therapy programs and farmers markets. I offer this presentation in honor of the many dedicated and inspiring pioneers of the sustainability movement in Contra Costa including Kate and Elmer Olsen, Lucy and Jim Hupp, Dorothy Headley, Dan Clancy, Ted and Kathy Radke, Florence and Stoney and numerous others, particularly those who have passed on. 

I'd also like to work with everyone to update this presentation - I believe SCOCO will have opportunities coming soon to educate community leaders about what's going on with urban ag. in the County. Having an up to date presentation of current projects and programs would be very useful for showcasing the movement in a concise, cohesive and very visual way. 

When's a good date and time? Who'd like to attend? I'm taking sign-ups.


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Yes, I'd like to have our summer interns compile a list of all of the Urban Ag. people and programs in the County as a directory, a mailing list and an invitation list ... an any related topics and programs that should be included. This could be done in late June for a summer evening's gathering. In the meantime, please compile names, program, e-mail and contact info if available in a standard list format (e.g. Excel) ... we'll be uploading info to SCOCO's Salesforce data mgmt system.

There's lots of value in maintaining such a list ... I'd like to keep the aspects of organizing the gathering to a minimum to lessen the effort involved (we're all volunteers) ... e-invitation: come on down, bring pix and munchies, call to get on the list, location info. Done.

I'd be willing to do this on a Saturday, but Saturday's are for being outdoors doin' stuff! Location and weather would be primary factors.

Hey, Sheila ... could we use the Garden Center?
There is so much happening! The Permaculture Guild (WC/Lafayette into west county); and Richmond Grows, Urban Tilth, The Watershed Project, Communities United Restoring Mother Earth (CURME), EcoVillage Farm, etc. in Richmond; and El Cerrito Green Community (planting all sorts of food-bearing trees, seeds, etc.). Of course all the farmers markets—which is a major place for people connecting and getting into these other food growing efforts. Whatever is planned for a conference should be planned with others, determining what the objectives for the conference should be, etc. Robin
The objective is simple: bring people together to share what's going on. I'm sure that these groups all have plenty to do but I know that getting together with peers and colleagues with other projects and programs can be very productive without an agenda. I hosted a similar event on a statewide basis at UC Davis ... very well-attended and people felt is was one of the best events they'd been too 'cause they all got to present and share rather than a more formalized listening-oriented "conference."

Sounds like we may need more than an evening and perhaps we'd need a bigger space than our office - The Garden Center would be ideal.

If I had to put down a single overarching goal/question for this group, it would be: how do we institutionalize everything that's going on so that all of these projects and programs become sustainable aspects of our community beyond volunteers, beyond grants, beyond the ebbs and flows of current cultural fashion. I've seen too many excellent programs disappear for lack of institutional anchoring and long-term community commitment.
Sure. Next week is fine. Weds. evening is best for me.

FYI - I had a long talk yesterday with Jon Erlandson of the SBDC about the Workforce Dev. Board's budding ideas about an urban farming initiative in West County. I briefed him on the West County orgs. that you and Robin mentioned, shared the mixed history of urban ag. in the West County, and outlined my plans for a conference/gathering.

There's stimulus money available to create jobs and Tracey Nicks at the WDB is interested in doing something in urban ag. I've worked with Tracey before and we've talked over the years about a wide range of ideas.

The idea that seems to be getting traction revolves around the idea of developing a community kitchen type of business incubator linked with various local sources of food. While there's high interest in garden-to-school types of programs, preserving food and maybe selling food-products (e.g. locally made salsa) offers additional opportunities.

There is also high interest in doing something with the old ColorSpot greenhouses. Apparently SunnyHill Farms has offered to cooperate. The conference I proposed fits right into the WDB's plans. The key is that the money needs to be committed before the end of June!!

I told Jon that all of the players in the West County need to be included in some way. Jon's planning to contact at least one foundation in the next week to seek funds to support the conference, a directory of CC urban ag. projects, programs and activities and an opportunity assessment. This would be tied to whatever else is done with the stimulus money. Nothing guaranteed, but doors are opening! I'm working with Jon to put together a conceptual framework to support some sort of proposal.

Things are being discussed and I'm making sure that SCOCO is positioned to participate. We're a wealth of expertise that the government agencies (e.g. the Workforce Board) are lacking.
I have a conflict on Thursday, the 27th. Weds. is best.

FYI - This conference is NOT strictly about "backyard" gardening - the topic is much broader. It's about managing the urban foodscape. I really want to maintain a wide perspective.
I love the idea of the community commercial kitchen. This is something I was working on before I left Washington. Seems like a lot of cool stuff buzzing around :)

Mark Westwind said:
Sure. Next week is fine. Weds. evening is best for me.

FYI - I had a long talk yesterday with Jon Erlandson of the SBDC about the Workforce Dev. Board's budding ideas about an urban farming initiative in West County. I briefed him on the West County orgs. that you and Robin mentioned, shared the mixed history of urban ag. in the West County, and outlined my plans for a conference/gathering.

There's stimulus money available to create jobs and Tracey Nicks at the WDB is interested in doing something in urban ag. I've worked with Tracey before and we've talked over the years about a wide range of ideas.

The idea that seems to be getting traction revolves around the idea of developing a community kitchen type of business incubator linked with various local sources of food. While there's high interest in garden-to-school types of programs, preserving food and maybe selling food-products (e.g. locally made salsa) offers additional opportunities.

There is also high interest in doing something with the old ColorSpot greenhouses. Apparently SunnyHill Farms has offered to cooperate. The conference I proposed fits right into the WDB's plans. The key is that the money needs to be committed before the end of June!!

I told Jon that all of the players in the West County need to be included in some way. Jon's planning to contact at least one foundation in the next week to seek funds to support the conference, a directory of CC urban ag. projects, programs and activities and an opportunity assessment. This would be tied to whatever else is done with the stimulus money. Nothing guaranteed, but doors are opening! I'm working with Jon to put together a conceptual framework to support some sort of proposal.

Things are being discussed and I'm making sure that SCOCO is positioned to participate. We're a wealth of expertise that the government agencies (e.g. the Workforce Board) are lacking.
Mark, Patricia Algara is heading up this effort that you're talking about, and Pilar Reber, who owns Sunnyside Organic Seedlings has leased one of the greenhouses--they grew roses there until NAFTA came along! I am attaching the rough draft of their proposal that they submitted to the Buckminster Fuller Foundation (didn't get the funding). Patricia works for MIG Consulting in Berkeley. Robin
Attachments:
Thanks for the info!
Mark, who should I have Patricia Algara speak to? Tracey or Jon?? Do you have a phone number and/or email? Patricia is calling me later today and I want her to connect with whomever she needs to. Robin

Mark Westwind said:
Thanks for the info!
Call Jon at 925-602-6846.

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