City Slicker Farms located in west Oakland provides free and sliding scale fresh veggies, fruit and volunteer opportunities to residents. This morning I was invited to photograph Rodney, the Executive Director. He made breakfast for us , eggs sausage, biscuits , jam and coffee to wash it all down. I wasn’t expecting a full breakfast, and I wasn’t turning one down either. He and his assistants Eric and William were building a new shed for their tractor. I was impressed to see Rodney teach them to measure accurately without using traditional tools . The farm has everything from veggies to fruit you can pick and eat off the vine, and beautiful flowers. We talked about work life balance – which he gets by visiting home often, traveling abroad, healthy eating and an occasional beer.
Jazz music blaring, I photographed him as he shared that his work- life balance comes from not giving (AF) too much energy to things that don’t matter- so that there is enough energy for priorities. Himself, his family, his life’s purpose, which is part to build community right there in West Oakland.
I asked him about the wonderful vibe and overall ambiance of the farm, and he reminded me of a very diverse group of people I’d met there previously. A chef, massage therapist, a forager, a drummer and a man who was disabled and homeless. He told me its not easy because of the different kinds of people the farm attracts. He knows how to relate to people of many backgrounds and its served him as he has had to defend people against racism, show people the value of being a part of the community versus not being part, and maintain peace when it was threatened, by any means.
The young men learning to build and farm appreciated getting a free workout and fresh food locally, as well as the network of really cool people they’ve made friends with. Sounds like the best kind of gardening is happening there,growing community.
volunteer at or visit City Slicker Farms!