The mission of Spiral Gardens is to create healthy sustainable communities by promoting a strong local food system and encouraging productive use of urban soil. Our core programs are based at our Urban Garden Center, located in Southwest Berkeley, CA, on two blocks of public land at the end of a long-vacant former railroad right of way. These programs include our Nursery, Produce Stand, Community Farm, Outdoor Community Classroom, and Community Harvest Project. In addition to the community farm, we have one other community garden located on 59th Street in North Oakland. We also conduct outreach, education, and plant sales throughout the local community and at local and regional events, including a consistent presence at the Saturday Berkeley Farmers’ Market from March through October.
The following is a brief description of each of our primary programs:
* The Nursery, located on the southwest corner of Sacramento and Oregon Streets, makes useful plants available at affordable prices. The nursery specializes in edible plants, culinary and medicinal herbs, California native and other habitat supporting plants (particularly butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds). All proceeds go to support the project.
* The Community Farm, behind the northwest corner of Oregon and Sacramento Streets, is our primary location for direct food production. At least half of the harvest goes to the low-income seniors in the adjacent housing complex, the rest is distributed among the volunteers who grow it.
* The Produce Stand provides fresh, mostly organic produce, from local regional family farms to the neighborhood at cost. It is located on the busy southwest corner Sacramento and Oregon Streets in front of the Nursery.
*The Community Harvest Project assists private homeowners and the community by harvesting excess fruit from backyard and community trees and distributing what would otherwise go to waste to people in need.
* Community Education is woven into everything we do, from descriptive labeling of well chosen plants to answering thousands of inquiries per year. People who want to volunteer can drop in anytime we are open to engage in guided hands-on education. In 2007 we will reinstute our regular schedule of Free Public Classes in this outdoor education site. These classes are a way for people to share knowledge about self-sufficiency through gardening, skills for good eating habits, and tools to build a vibrant community.
Spiral Gardens was founded in the fall of 1993 as a project of the Agape Foundation for Nonviolent Social Change by a handful of individuals dedicated to urban greening, innovative organic farming methods, food security, and environmental justice issues. It then melded with the Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) Urban Gardening Institute from December ’97 through April ’04. In October 2004 we officially incorporated as the Spiral Gardens Community Food Security Project, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Spiral Gardens has partnered with many organizations over the years to further our mission of creating healthy sustainable communities by promoting a strong local food system and encouraging the productive use of urban soil.