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Farms in Oakland? UCOP volunteers unearth the answer

It was a day like any other at OP: Offering drinks to chickens and citrus trees, de-leafing chard and laying out crops for the next planting.

What, you don’t do that at your OP job?

Six UCOP staff members literally got into the weeds (as well as down in the dirt) while volunteering at City Slicker Farms (CSF) in West Oakland on Thursday, Oct. 20. Organized by the Office of the President Professional Community (OPPC) affinity group, the four-hour community service event gave our staff a chance to support a local food production system.

CSF fills a vital role in a highly industrial urban area by offering community members access to fresh, healthy and sustainable food for their families. While developing the tools for self-reliance, they also learn about the connections between ecology, farming and the urban environment.

In service to that mission, the UCOP volunteers were more than happy to get their hands dirty, whether that meant pulling weeds, shoveling soil, pulling dead leaves off chard, or planting flowers and vegetable seedlings. In the green house, plots were laid out for planting and plants were sorted and labeled.

And of course there was a lot of drinking. Not by humans but by citrus trees that happily soaked up a comfrey tea mixture the crew mixed up for plant enrichment. And to make sure the farm’s chickens stay hydrated, the volunteers used their engineering skills to help elevate the coop’s water dispenser for easier access.

Throughout the afternoon, the volunteers peppered Farm Manager Joseph Davis with questions as he directed them in all these tasks. “I learned a lot about gardening today!” said UCOP volunteer Kit Alviz.

CSF Executive Director Rodney Spencer said he was “thrilled” by UCOP’s involvement. “As a small organization, we heavily rely on individuals and organizations to help us manage the large work-load at our urban farm. The group from UCOP help prove the old adage that ‘many hands make light work.'”

Despite the hard physical labor involved, the volunteers were enthusiastic about their time down on the farm. Elizabeth McWhorter and Cynthia De Los Santos both commented on how much fun they had, and De Los Santos said she’d be happy to come back to help out again. Having co-organized several volunteer events this year, OPPC chair Aymen Manai enthused that he meets “new awesome people” at each one.

Interested in being one of those people? Stay tuned for more OP volunteer events coming in the new year. Keep an eye on Link and the OPPC website for future opportunities to help our local community.


UCOP staff volunteering at CSF event:

Aymen Manai, programmer analyst, ITS

Cynthia De Los Santos, programmer analyst, ITS

Elizabeth McWhorter, admissions specialist, Student Affairs

Kit Alviz, program policy analyst, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR)

Ryan Chan, senior research and policy analyst, Institutional Research & Academic Planning (IRAP)

Veronica Potts, academic personnel policy analyst, Academic Personnel (APPC)



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