|Enlisted Master Gardner, Kelly Carlisle and farm crew.|
Last fall of 2015, Former Black Panther chair(wo)man, singer, writer, and continued Activist Elaine Brown transformed a withering vacant lot in West Oakland, California into an urban farm of purpose. Not only does this particular farm business produce a variety of quality crops (tomatoes, peppers, kale, squash, corn, and others), but it serves as employment with decent pay for ex criminal offenders looking for a fresh start at life.
"I'm not in the farm business. I'm in the business of creating opportunities for Black men and women who are poor and lack the education, skills, and resources to return to a community that is rapidly gentrifying without economic avenues for them in mind" (Brown).
Later down the line, Brown plans to add a juice bar, fitness center, grocery store, and tech design space along with affordable housing on the three-quarter acre property under her non-profit org, Oakland & the World Enterprises. The vision is sustained. However, there is still a need for funding to be raised to convert that vision into a reality. The Picán Restaurant, an upscale Southern-influenced black owned (Michael LeBlanc) restaurant in the area, signed on as the farm's first culinary client contract. In addition, the restaurant also hosted fundraisers and goodwill-building dinners once a month through the end of the last year.
"People come out of the joint with nothing to do and $200 in their pocket. Once that money runs out … they’ll do anything to survive, including hitting somebody in the head for $20. We have to create positive opportunities for these people to return to the community.” (Brown).
Decades later, Elaine Brown is still as determined, empowering, and inspiring just as before. To read the heartening story in full from farm employees etc., click here.
If you're interested in donating, please visit http://oaklandandtheworld.org/donations/
s.o. to CivilEats.
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