Food Justice Education

How Our Program Works

The Education Program activates people most directly impacted by poverty and food injustice to create a more local and sustainable food system by developing their skills in ecological design, nutrition education, and multimedia arts that ground and connect urban gardens with local and international struggles and movements for social justice.

The work of the Education program takes place at high schools, prisons/jails/juvenile detention facilities, on our 4-acre farm in El Sobrante, at our 2-acre Nursery site in the Sobrante Park neighborhood of East Oakland, in partnership with community service providers, through local and regional bus tours, our internal workplace justice trainings, and sliding scale workshops for the general public.

Our students transform underused community spaces into edible gardens at each of these sites, to provide fresh and nutritionally dense food while developing their literacy in social justice movements, ecology, and holistic wellness.  We hire staff directly from the communities we serve, and they develop important mentorship opportunities with our students through consistent weekly programming. Planting Justice Educators and community allies have developed the Plant! Cook! Organize! curriculum, available online soon.

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A unique, empowering curriculum self-designed by Planting Justice Educators and allies:

Plant, Cook, Organize!

Discover the Lesson Plans:

What is the Food System?

An activity that invites participants to learn about the modern industrial food system, from production, processing, distribution, consumption to waste. Small groups explore what is involved in each part of the food system, who does the labor and who profits, and how we can make it more just and sustainable. Once participants have shared their findings, together they create a power map and organize a campaign for change. This lesson is paired with making kale smoothies, a nutritious way to practice decolonizing our diets.

Survival Pending Revolution: The Black Panther Party's 10 point program
The Black Panther Party’s 10 point program is a valuable tool for teaching liberation education. It not only gives students a deeper understanding of the civil rights movement, it further provides a container for participants to connect this history to their individual experience and discuss the most pressing issues in their community. Participants learn about the alliances built between the Black Panther Party and the United Farm Workers during their grape boycott and everyone gets to enjoy a fruit salad made with produce grown on local unionized organic farms.
Intro to Permaculture Design
This lesson provides participants with the opportunity to learn about the principles and ethics of permaculture design. Small groups will practice re-designing a home yard, a neighborhood, city, or region. This lesson draws connections between permaculture design and social justice movements by empowering participants with the opportunity to explore how to build a more sustainable and equitable living environment for all.
Companion Planting: Diversity Builds Resiliency
Companion planting is an ecological planting method that mimics natural processes and enhances biodiversity by using plant interactions to the gardeners’ advantage. Participants learn about these beneficial plant relationships and experiment with planting companions in the garden. They further gain an understanding of how diversity builds resiliency through learning about how the Third World Liberation Front organized at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University to demand a relevant education for students of color and other communities that have historically been excluded from traditional curriculum.
Healing Justice - Remedies from the Garden
This lesson introduces participants to the natural medicine available in their community and within themselves.

Participants spend time in the garden, harvesting and sharing knowledge about different plant remedies. They also learn more about the medical industrial complex and movements for healing justice.

An Ode to the Land: Poetry, Salad & Farmworker Rights
Poetry is an important form of education and activism, and Gloria Anzaldua honors this tradition through her poem that draws attention to the experience of a farmworker struggling in the agricultural fields within the standard working conditions of the modern industrial food system. In this lesson, participants take part in a salad dressing competition using simple nutritious recipes and together they read Anzaldua’s poem in both English and Spanish. Participants are also introduced to the organizing work of the United Farm Workers and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
Pesticides are Poison: Practicing Integrated Pest Management
Though the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers are toxic and dangerous to both consumers, workers, and the environment, they continue to be used extensively in our modern industrial food system. This lesson provides participants with the hands-on opportunity to make their own natural fertilizers that maintain soil fertility and organic sprays for managing pests in the garden. As participants practice these methods of integrated pest management, they also learn about how different communities are organizing to protect our bodies, the environment, and workers across the food chain.
Peace and Peanuts: Practicing Mindfulness and Cover Cropping
Mindfulness can help us find and maintain a sense of gratitude towards life and the interconnectedness of our ecosystem. This lesson introduces participants to the lessons of Thich Nhat Hahn as they read poems, find nature’s beauty within, and make simple, nutritious peanut butter balls to share. Participants also are introduced to the lessons of George Washington Carver using peanuts or other legumes as a cover crop to fix nitrogen into the garden’s soil.
People Before Profits: Making Vitamin Water from the Garden
We are sick of multinational corporations putting their profits before the health and well-being of people. By learning how to make our own nutritious and refreshing drink using glass jars and what we can harvest from the garden, participants take an active role in finding ways to boycott companies such as Coca Cola and spreading the healthy benefits and healing properties of plants in the garden.
Honoring our Roots: An Historical Timeline of Food Justice
Historical events that highlight people organizing and fighting for social justice within the food system can provide many lessons for activists working towards food justice today. This lesson engages participants in a game that brings to light different historical events throughout 1900 – 2014 that will inform and inspire our struggle today.

Bay Area Farmer Training Program

In collaboration with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA)

The Bay Area Farmer Training (BAFT) program is in collaboration with MESA and provides educational training and tools for a new generation of farmers in California’s Bay Area to create socially-just, ecologically sustainable and economically viable urban and peri-urban farm businesses.

This program supports immigrants, refugees, formerly incarcerated, and under-resourced beginning farmers in having strong voices to lead their communities towards thriving, equitable and resilient food systems.  In partnership with local farms, educators, and activists, BAFT is a comprehensive program featuring experiential learning, site visits, participatory presentations, anti-oppression trainings, online curriculum, and ongoing mentorship support for those who aspire to farm as a career path.

The Bay Area Farmer Training Program has a strong hands-on educational component. The course offers learning opportunities with experienced farmers through site visits and guest lectures. Our curriculum includes visits to Planting Justice’s organic commercial nursery in East Oakland, as well as various local and successful ecological farms in MESA’s network. Transportation will be provided, as will laptop chromebooks for completion of the online curriculum.

This program offers new farmers the opportunity to learn agroecological farm and business management. Diverse topics include aquaponics, nursery production, sustainable livestock care, business planning, marketing, product distribution, access to land and capital, and the socio-political forces that shape the ways that each of us relates with food, and more. The Bay Area Farmer Training Program includes long-term support for new farmers after the three-month training period.

Some successful graduates will be given the opportunity to be mentored by pioneering local farmers through 3-6 month paid apprenticeships on farms in the MESA network, receive living-wage employment with Planting Justice with their landscape design team or at their farm, nursery, or education team, and/or provided ongoing legal, technical and financial support to access land and launch farm businesses!

*Applications are currently closed. 
Stay on the lookout for updates on applying to the next cohort! 

Logistics

Logistics

Our 5th Cohort took place June-Sept 2018.

The 3 month course had a sliding scale cost between $350 and $800. People coming from vulnerable backgrounds such as immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, refugees, and underserved beginning farmers could apply to receive scholarships, as well as a $500 stipend for transportation and food while taking the course. 

If you’d like to receive updates about the program, sign up for our mailing list. For more information or any questions on the program, please send an e-mail to train@mesaprogram.org.

Ongoing Projects

Food Justice Education fremont high
Fremont High School

4610 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

Planting Justice led weekly workshops at Fremont High School from September 2010 until May 2018. The garden was built and maintained by current and former students and had 10 raised beds, 8 fruit trees with an understory of perennial berries and herbs, a three-bin composting system, and dope mural. Planting Justice first partnered with Pamela Zimmerman’s art class when it was still Mandela High School. The following school year we began working in the afterschool program, offering juniors and seniors academic credit for their ongoing participation. Then we started partnering on a weekly basis with teachers on campus, including Patricia Arabia, for students to explore food justice issues, learn simple nutritious recipes, and practice permaculture design in their organic garden on campus. We then worked with the Latino Men and Boys program to help these young men build their leadership skills, reconnect with the earth, and develop their entrepreneurial projects. Fremont High School is currently under reconstruction and unfortunately, these renovations meant that the beautiful garden was bulldozed in the summer of 2018. We are committed to our relationship with Fremont and rebuilding a garden once the campus renovations are complete!

McClymonds High School

2607 Myrtle St, Oakland, CA 94607

Planting Justice has been leading weekly workshops at McClymonds High School since March 2012. The organic garden was built and maintained by Mac students and currently has 24 raised beds and 6 fruit trees as well as a three-bin composting system. Planting Justice first partnered with Jeremy Namkung’s advisory class and the following year began partnering with the McClymonds Youth and Family Center to offer workshops twice a week in the afterschool program. We now also offer workshops during the school day in partnership with teachers, currently Mr. Grace and Mr. Curry, for students to apply their knowledge using hands-on activities, develop social entrepreneurship skills, and take home the organic produce grown in their garden.

Food Justice Education mackpic
Food Justice Education keller apartments
Keller Plaza Apartments

5321 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

Planting Justice has been leading weekly workshops at this affordable housing apartment complex since March 2010. The garden has 11 raised beds as well as a three-bin composting system and it is always open to the residents. Tylen Lee has participated in this program since he was nine years old, and now at fourteen he is the youth leader, learning and applying permaculture design, simple nutritious recipes, and arts-based activities that connect work in the garden to community struggles for social justice. Keller Plaza Apartments were previously managed by Christian Church Homes and is now managed by The John Stewart Company.

Insight Garden Program at San Quentin State Prison

H-Unit, San Quentin, CA 94964

Planting Justice has been collaborating with the Insight Garden Program (IGP) since April 2009. We facilitate IGP classes in the H-unit twice a month to provide men in prison the opportunity to learn about food justice issues, develop landscaping skills, and apply permaculture design principles in their gardens on the prison yard. In 2003, IGP built a 1,600 square foot native plant and flower garden and in November 2012, Planting Justice helped the men in the program to build their organic vegetable garden. Currently, all the food is being donated to men in re-entry and their families as well as local Bay Area charities serving low-income communities. Planting Justice offers a holistic re-entry program and we currently have more than 15 people on staff who were formerly imprisoned, whether at San Quentin or other institutions.  

Food Justice Education san quentin
Food Justice Education image asset
Camp Sweeney and Juvenile Justice Center

Alameda County

Since March 2015, Planting Justice has been leading young men incarcerated at this juvenile institution in the construction and maintenance of six terraced garden beds, each about fifty feet long. The garden is a place of respite for the youth, where they’re able to channel their energies and the young men reported that they found watering, weeding and harvesting to be therapeutic. The young men make nutritious recipes and learn about local and historical food justice issues, holistic wellness, and meditation and mindfulness. In May 2016, staff at the Juvenile Justice Center raised $5,000 and organized with Planting Justice to lead the young men in building a garden with 10 more raised beds.

External Resources

Food Justice
  • City Slicker Farms – Empowering West Oakland community members to meet the immediate and basic need for nutritious food security.

  • Farm Fresh Choice – Farm Fresh Choice is the Ecology Center’s food justice program

  • FarmingUp – FarmingUp has spent over a year planning the launch of a high quality, very large-scale rooftop farm in NYC. Farming NYC’s overhead acreage improves the ecological impact of NYC’s eight million eaters

  • Just Food – Just Food works to increase access to fresh, healthy food in NYC and to support the local farms and urban gardens that grow it

  • La Via Campesina – Nous sommes un mouvement international de paysans, de petits et moyens producteurs, de sans terre, de femmes et de jeunes du milieu rural, de peuples indigènes et de travailleurs agricoles

  • Mandela Marketplace – The Mandela Marketplace is the currently the only grocery store in West Oakland. It is cooperatively owned by members of the community and sells fresh, local produce.

  • Oakland Food Connection – Oakland Food Connection is a not-for-profit organization focused on Oakland’s heritage of Food, Community and Culture

  • O.B.U.G.S – Building healthy communities through programs offered children, youth and families in a network of school and neighborhood gardens.

  • Spiral Gardens Community Food Security Project – Creating healthy sustainable communities by promoting a strong local food system and encouraging productive use of urban soil

  • Urban Tilth – Urban Tilth cultivates agriculture in west Contra Costa County to help our community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system

Forums
Businesses

Bio Fuels Oasis

Amazing cooperatively owned biodiesel and urban farming supplies business.

Clean Water Components

Providing information and kits for home scale greywater systems

Raw Oakland Honey Cooperative

Oakland’s backyard beekeeping cooperative

Spiral Gardens Community Food Security Project

Creating healthy sustainable communities by promoting a strong local food system and encouraging productive use of urban soil

The Ecology Center

Provides the public with reliable information, tools, hands-on training, referrals, strategies, infrastructure, and models for sustainable living 

Plant Biology

Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)

The Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) web server provides germplasm information about plants, animals, microbes and invertebrates. 

Plants for a Future

The best edible, medicinal and useful plant database.   

Plant Information Online

Searchable nursery database for North America.

Seed Savers Exchange

A non-profit organization of gardeners dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.

Great Blogs

Citysown

A great Bay Area permaculture blog

Merritt Permaculture Class

Merritt’s permaculture class blog!

Youth Programs
  • East Lake YMCA – Our goal is to enable the youth of Oakland to reach their unlimited potential

  • Oakland Food Connection – Oakland Food Connection is a not-for-profit organization focused on Oakland’s heritage of Food, Community and Culture

  • Oakland Green Arts and Media Center – Ecological education with low-income youth and opportunities in artistic and performing youth

  • O.B.U.G.S – Building healthy communities through programs offered children, youth and families in a network of school and neighborhood gardens.

  • Grind For The Green – Grind for the Green is committed to moving youth of color from the margins to the epicenter of the environmental movement

  • Urban Tilth – Urban Tilth cultivates agriculture in west Contra Costa County to help our community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system

Food Policy

La Via Campesina

Nous sommes un mouvement international de paysans, de petits et moyens producteurs, de sans terre, de femmes et de jeunes du milieu rural, de peuples indigènes et de travailleurs agricoles

Oakland Food Policy Council

The OFPC promotes an equitable and sustainable food system in Oakland, California

Roots of Change

Roots of Change (ROC) believes that the best way to make the food system sustainable is to connect and support the people and parts within the system that have the knowledge, roles, relationships and commitments…

The Rhizome Collective

The Rhizome Collective is a non-profit organization based out of a warehouse on the East Side of Austin, Texas.  They operate an Educational Center for Urban Sustainability and a Center for Community Organizing.

Green Jobs

Green For All

Green For All is a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty

Growing Home

Providing job training through a non-profit organic agriculture business

Insight Garden Program

In collaboration with San Quentin State Prison, the Insight Garden Program (IGP) provides rehabilitation to self-selected prisoners through the process of organic gardening

Sustainable South Bronx

Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) is a community organization dedicated to Environmental Justice solutions through innovative, economically sustainable projects that are informed by community needs

Water

Clean Water Components

Providing information and kits for home scale greywater systems

Grey Water Action

Grey water advocacy!

Oasis Desgin

Art Ludwigs greywater resources and designs

Rainwater Harvesting

Brad Lancaster’s rain water harvesting techniques

Social Justice

Communitree

Communitree works to integrate arts, ecology and education in Oakland, CA

Ella Baker Center

Working for justice in our system, opportunity in our cities, and peace on our streets

Humanist Hall

A venue dedicated to community building and social justice

Insight Garden Program

In collaboration with San Quentin State Prison, the Insight Garden Program (IGP) provides rehabilitation to self-selected prisoners through the process of organic gardening

La Via Campesina

Nous sommes un mouvement international de paysans, de petits et moyens producteurs, de sans terre, de femmes et de jeunes du milieu rural, de peuples indigènes et de travailleurs agricoles

Permaculture
Learning Opportunities

Merritt Horticulture Department

One of the best and least expensive permaculture educational resource!

Regenerative Design Institute

Northern Californian permaculture site.

The Ecology Center

Provides the public with reliable information, tools, hands-on training, referrals, strategies, infrastructure, and models for sustainable living

The Institute of Urban Homesteading

Great urban homesteading classes in Oakland, CA.

Mycology

Fungi Perfecti

Paul Stamets’ mushroom store

Spore Works

Great mushroom spore source

News

Permaculture Activist Magazine

A long standing Permaculture Magazine

Arts

Communitree

Communitree works to integrate arts, ecology and education in Oakland, CA

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