Urban Tilth's Urban Agriculture Institute

by Urban Tilth

From Seed to Service: Urban Ag students grow their own salad bar!

After Months of careful planning, planting, and organizing, the Richmond High Urban Agriculture Class/Club manifested its' first ever lunch time salad bar and lemonade stand. Working together with Richmond High Vice Principle Kibby Kleiman and the Richmond High Cafeteria, our food safe salad bar distributed salad bowls and lemonade to over 80 students and faculty during their Wednesday lunch period. All of the lettuce and lemons used at the stand were grown by the Urban Agriculture Class, at the garden located on campus at Richmond High School! Additionally the students made all of the salad dressings from scratch during class, just before lunch began. Dressings included a non-fat Ranch Dressing made from Greek yogurt, balsamic vinaigrette, and a honey mustard sauce made from organic mustard, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Chalk one up for the power of youth organizing! Stay tuned for more events like this, and remember to GROW YOUR OWN!   


Other Accomplishments this Winter:

  • Welcoming the 1st Fruit in the Richmond Edible Forest: This winter we also saw the 1st fruit in the Richmond Edible Forest, a 40,000 square foot Edible Forest Garden design and planted by Richmond youth participants in the Urban Agriculture Institute. We also brought our chickens out to the Greenway Gardens and the Richmond High gardens so youth in our programs and in our neighborhoods could reconnect with the animals we depend on. We know it is essential that all people know where our food comes from.
  • Creating Our Own Change: "Cooking is a Revolutionary Act" Aprons: Because we know that people need social support to change habits the Urban Agriculture Institute also continued to spread the word about the importance of healthy eating by designing and creating our first series of "Cooking is a Revolutionary Act" Aprons which the team showcased at this year's San Francisco Greenfest! 
  • We are looking forward to a fabulous, funky fresh 2013! As we move through the winter the Urban Ag Institute is making plans to plant salad green gardens across Richmond and host harvest your lunch garden salad bars on weekdays to give students and adult office workers an alternative to fast food lunch. 
  • Martin Luther King National Day of Service 2013: The Urban Ag Institute has been working for 3 months now preparing for our largest volunteer event of the year, Martin Luther King National Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway. This year we are expecting over 500 volunteers who will help us build our market stand, plant our spring gardens and native and pollinator beds, 80 more trees in the Edible Forest, rebuild the CURME Medicinal Garden, build new or repair old garden beds, make sign and community mural art and beautification projects. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, lend us a hand and change your life - its our 6th year and every time we do this it is a deeply moving experience for everyone who comes out. MAKE IT A DAY ON! Gonna be a day not to be missed ♥ (For more information click on the MLK Day Richmond link below)

Thank you all for your continued support of this project. Together we are changing the food system in Richmond!



Bike Powered All Fruit Smoothies
Bike Powered All Fruit Smoothies

This Fall 2012 we came back to Richmond High with renewed enthusiasm from the Summer Apprentice Program 2012. Where 12 students turned Summer Apprentices who incidentally were mostly girls, designed and built a full size chicken coop with extremely limited experience building. Very Inspiring!

As the cold begins to creep in we welcomed 33 new students into the Urban Agriculture and American Food Systems class. The new students are a new breed. Referred by their friends from last year's class these students are hard workers, enthusiastic about learning and growing their own food. As the year moves into full swing we would love to share a number of developments and accomplishments:

  • We are excited to have the opportunity to add a NEW class to the Urban Agriculture Institute! This class is a parenting class for the very young mom's and soon to be mom's in the alternative high school program that is located just across the driveway from the garden.
  • This year we are focusing more on nutrition education. Students are completing complex and introspective health and nutrition related research projects including keeping a daily food journal, research on the health affects of sugar sweetened beverages and diet related diseases, how fats, proteins and carbohydrates function in the body and learning more about the importance of micro-nutrients.
  • The fall is also the time that we lay the foundation of by teaching beginning Botany including native and edible plant identification.
  • As are produce and now nursery markets continue to thrive students and staff will be exploring other entrepreneurial ventures that can help support this program. Stay tuned for more offering such as our "Cooking is a Revolutionary Act" apron, Urban Teas, locally grown herbal teas, jams and more. And produced by the students, staff and apprentices of Urban Tilth and the Urban Agriculture Institute so that we can continue to grow our own. 
Working our nursery
Working our nursery
WOW! Now that
WOW! Now that's cauliflower
Seeding the next crop
Seeding the next crop
Chilly weeding and harvesting :)
Chilly weeding and harvesting :)
Cooking is a Revolutionary Act!
Cooking is a Revolutionary Act!
Beautifying the gardens
Beautifying the gardens

As the school year closed we were able to look back on this year’s Urban Agriculture and American Food System class (a part of the Urban Ag Institute) and celebrate a number of successes. 

  • We are excited to announce that we had the highest attendance ever for our Urban Agriculture and American Food Systems class at Richmond High School. The class welcomed 35 high school students eager to learn and participate in our program
  • 50% of those students also elected to apply and now participate in our Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program.
  • This summer, we were also privileged to have the highest number of applicants in our Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program thus far.
  • The students are creating their own garden fresh meals, snacks and treats, sharing their creations with the community. Growing more food than ever and as a result getting this food out to our community through two new Community Farm Stand days on Fridays and Sundays. Having the community participate in these events has helped spread the word and sparked more interest in healthy eating and active living!
  • This year we took the opportunity to integrate concepts that empower the students to conserve and nurture their local environment. We took the students on a field trip to East Bay Regional Parks District Tilden Botanical Gardens where they learned about watersheds, plant communities, beneficial insects and native plants. Exposing the students to endemic and endangered plants of California encourages them to think about how they can integrate plant conservation into the urban agriculture work they are doing in our Richmond High School garden and farm.
  • This summer we also added ART and garden beautification projects to the Urban Agriculture Institute. We are partnering with the Community Rejuvenation Program to beautify teach neighborhood youth the art of create public murals and mosaics. They will be creating 8 new murals in our Greenway Gardens and 10 new mosaic benches and seating areas. The Greenway Gardens are getting major facelift from the creative efforts of these phenomenal 6 Richmond youth who are passionate about showing the world just how wonderful it is to mix art and food.
  • With the help of our neighbors who have been bringing us their food waste, our youth apprentices are reducing the cost of buying compost and enabling us to overcome the challenges of waste by creating vermicomposting systems that transform trash into SOIL GOLD, i.e. nutrient rich compost! The students have made a conscience effort to apply permaculture techniques they have learned through the Urban Agriculture class. The result? BEAUTIFUL WORMS = AMAZING SOIL!

Stay tuned for more news from the Urban Agriculture Institute Summer Apprentice Program!

Cooking is a Revolutionary Act!
Cooking is a Revolutionary Act!
NEW  from OLD: Learning to propagate from cuttings
NEW from OLD: Learning to propagate from cuttings


RHS class harvesting for 1st CSA of 2012
RHS class harvesting for 1st CSA of 2012

The Urban Agriculture Institute at Richmond High School has been running strong through the Fall of 2011 and early Winter of 2012.

Over the Summer of 2011, with the generous support of our donors we built 19 new raised beds and redesigned and rebuilt the greenhouse doubling our growing capacity and setting us up for a spectacular TOMATO growing season. 

Our fearless project manager, Adam Boisvert and West Contra Costa County School District Co-Instructor, Bob Gade have seen their class grow from 16 students, to over 30. Many of the new students are friends of class members for were told that the Urban Ag class was "the place to be" and that it is “unlike ANY other class at Richmond High"! We also are welcoming Ashoka, our new Project Assistant to the team. Ashoka will help us continue to put the infrastructure in place so that the students will have what they need to continue to expand the farm, improve their growing practices, maintain the greenhouse and take part in rich academic lessons.

As we delve deeply into garden design, soil science, the impact of wind and sun vectors on a garden or farm the students' commitment to the class and the content deepen. 


NOT Good Enough to GROW it, have to EAT it too!

In recognition of the importance of cooking and eating all of the luscious foods the students grow; we have added a weekly Cooking from Garden class every Friday. It is awesome to see the faces of students as they create garden fresh meals, snacks and treats every week especially when considering that many of them arrive in the class knowing only how to "cook" microwave burritos or ramen. So we keep repeating the mantra, " Cooking is a Revolutionary Act" and the smiles keep coming. 


175-lbs - Welcoming the 1st HARVEST of 2012!

Two weeks ago we relaunched the CSA after the slow winter months of November - January. The 1st harvest of 2012 saw 175-lbs of greens, onions, potatoes, carrots, lettuces and herbs go out to families of Richmond High! All grown, harvested and prepared by students in the class. We even had so much extra salad greens that we sent out word to Richmond residents that they could order their own 1-2 lb bags and many families came through happy to get locally grown organic food that they could actually afford while supporting the education of their community's youth. Win-Win is the best way to describe it. 


Looking ahead to Spring 2012

As we look forward to the Spring of 2012 we anticipate larger harvests and a great collaboration with Earth Team Environmental Network on a project to design and install an improved native plant and beneficial insect garden on the Richmond High farm and a classroom visit to support the research for this project to the Crissy Field Center Native Plant Nursery.

Looking forward to a great Spring 2012 at Richmond High's, Urban Agriculture Institute!

Recycled paper bags for the CSA - simple solutions
Recycled paper bags for the CSA - simple solutions
Some of the harvest!
Some of the harvest!
Everyone plays a role!
Everyone plays a role!

Who could have imagined it...

Just a few short weeks ago, we gathered together for the first time, on the first day of Urban Tilth's third annual Urban Agriculture Summer Youth Apprentice Program.

 A circle of young people -- maybe 50 in all -- with a few adult allies scattered here and there, filled the community room. Black and brown and asian and white; male and female; big and small; still child-like up to near-adult -- the room was filled with dozens of young people. It was the first day of their six-week introduction to urban agriculture in service to our local community. 

 Today, they're a united crew of talented, dedicated young apprentices. 

Fresh-picked farm to table

For the past four weeks, these young people have been deeply engaged in redesigning, building, and growing our local food.

Together, they've been working in small crews on five sites: the Verde Garden, the public farm at Sixth & the Greenway, another one at 16th & the Greenway, the AdamsCrest Farm, and the Richmond High School Farm.

In addition, we've gone on educational fIeld trips to UC Botanical Garden; we've provided hands-on work at the Hayes Valley Urban Farm in SF; and we've taken an educational hike in Tilden Park to identify native and non-native plants. 

Next week, we'll go on a two-night trip to visit small local working farms, and to tour the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center. And we need your help to get there! We need to close the $2,000 gap to allow this trip: Will you consider making a donation today?

This year, the Urban Agriculture Summer Youth Apprentice Program culminates with a two-night camping trip for all apprentices and staff. For two days, we'll explore the world of small farms in Northern California. Meeting with farmers of color and farmers managing small family farms, we'll discover more about where our food comes from, how it gets distributed, and how we can improve local access to healthy foods. 


For most of the Apprentices, this will be the first time they've traveled more than 20 miles from Richmond.

Working at Hayes Valley Farm Summer 2011


All together, the six-week "earn and learn" Summer Youth Apprentice Program costs $106,000, or about $2,355 per participant. Over the six weeks, each Apprentice devotes 100 hours in urban agriculture community service, earning $10 an hour while building skills and strengthening our community.We've raised almost 100% of this cost, but we need $2,000 to fill the gap of our farming/camping trip. 

It's been a privilege and a joy to watch the growth of these remarkable young people, both individually and as a united cohort of colleagues and friends. Together, they are cultivating change in Richmond -- from the ground up.

WIth gratitude to all our supporters, of every kind and size,


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Organization Information

Urban Tilth

Location: Richmond, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.urbantilth.org
Urban Tilth
Project Leader:
Doria Robinson
Executive Director
Richmond, CA United States

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