Urban Adamah is and educational farm and community center located in the heart of Berkeley. “Adamah” means “earth” in Hebrew. The idea to combine leadership training, organic farming, and progressive Jewish living was launched a decade ago by Adam Berman in Connecticut. Five years ago he brought the program to Berkeley. It’s now an independent nonprofit that offers fellowships, programs and camps, workshops and public programs.
I happened to stop by the one acre permaculture farm a month ago after driving by it for years. By chance it was their harvest and free farm stand day. Farm manager Willow Rosenthal (above) helped volunteers gather vegetables and greens. Everything was washed, weighed and logged. At 11am the stand opened. 90% of the produce grown at the farm is shared with neighbors who otherwise don’t have access to fresh produce. Carrots, garlic, greens, and radishes were harvested while I was there along with donations from local businesses like bread, milk, and eggs. Since opening, the farm has shared over 25,000 lbs of produce. There are over 100 raised beds, two greenhouses, a chicken coop, goats, bees, aquaponics and more. Stop by the farm at 1050 Parker Street but see it soon. They’ve recently purchased a permanent home 2.2 acre home in Northwest Berkeley and they’ll be moving in December. Check their website: http://urbanadamah.org There are all kinds of workshops and programs from learning aquaponics to making heritage corn into tortillas.
Kat Morgan, office and special programs manager at Urban Adamah runs the Free Farm Stand on Wednesdays.
You’d probably never believe Gary Rosenberg’s garden was on a roof top so I had to prove it with this photo of him climbing up a ladder to it. His Berkeley garden is so densely planted and lush that I was constantly checking my steps to make sure I didn’t walk off the edge. His house didn’t have a backyard and he wanted to make use of his large flat roof top so he began the rooftop garden back in 1994. First, he made sure the foundation was strong enough to support all the weight. Then he then stripped the old roof down to the structural elements and covered them with thick plywood. He topped it with two layers of modified torch-on, a rubber-like surface that is extremely waterproof and durable. But the mechanics of his garden is really not what it’s all about.
“I don’t teach gardening, I teach civil disobedience,” he explained, and there’s nothing that bothers him more than our wasteful consumer society. Almost all the containers, building materials, and even plants have been gleaned. He uses solar power, a composting toilet, and recycles the water used to for his plants into a very rich compost tea that he reuses on his plants. He also allows his plants to live their entire lifespans so he can collect the seed from successful plants so they can naturally adapt to the climate. He doesn’t see weeds as a problem, because they are biomass and natural carbon sinks that he eventually add to the compost. The way Gary sees it, if we could redirect the waste stream, improving society would naturally follow.
Collards are allowed to grow over several seasons, he picks leaves as he needs them.
Gary recycles the roof top runoff in barrels that makes a naturally rich compost tea.
Gary’s rooftop garden is barely visible from the street because of his densely planted sidewalk garden that contains over 20 fruit trees.