We started building the North Richmond Farm with the idea of transforming what had become a blighted, neglected, public-owned property into an Agricultural Park and Watershed Learning Center! The farm will be a space for the community to create, celebrate, work, and, of course, have access to healthy food.
Why develop a Farm in North Richmond?
Unincorporated North Richmond is the poorest community per capita in Contra Costa County, California. The extended industrial history of the area still remains but the agricultural history has been long forgotten. North Richmond is a food desert, it has no restaurants or grocery stores serving its residents, who are 97 percent people of color. The need for an urban farm in North Richmond goes without saying.
We found the perfect spot to develop the farm, a three-acre parcel of land located at the corner of Fred Jackson Way and Brookside Dr. This land has never had an industrial use and has been historically fertile and used for agriculture in the past. It’s located between Wildcat Creek and San Pablo Creek.
Our mission is to create a space in the heart of the most impacted neighborhood in Richmond where children, youth, and adults can deeply engage with nature.
For 10 years, Urban Tilth had been operating in various gardens and farms in Richmond, California, all on public lands. We activate public resources to do public good. However, we can’t make significant improvements to produce more food when we don’t have long term access to those lands. Leasing the land for the North Richmond Farm gave us the legal permission to make long-term investments that can truly revitalize this land. At the North Richmond Farm, Urban Tilth is free to lay down roots, develop the space, invest and make improvements on the infrastructure. We can build a greenhouse, install an irrigation system, etc., so our capacity to grow and distribute food and train and employ community members is much greater.
However, the plan for the North Richmond Farm goes beyond being a source of healthy produce. It will also be a dynamic and vibrant example of urban agriculture, sustainability, education, area history, and entrepreneurship.
The Farm Design Team
The plan for the Future Farm Design was the result of a series of collaborations with the Technical Advisory Committee — Bay Area urban agriculture folks who came together bringing all their thoughts and expertise to start this process — and the Community Advisory Committee — residents who gave their input on how best to use the space to meet the needs of the community and two professional Design Teams led by the architects at Byrens Kim Design Works and Noll and Tam Architects Design.
Learn more about our Farm Design Team Members …
- Provide healthy, locally-produced food
- The development of a site to provide maximum food production capacity
- The incorporation of retail and distribution opportunities for the sale of locally-produced, healthy food products
- Create a site that embraces sustainability
- The promotion of efficient water use and management
- The development of an energy-efficient site and structures that strive for a minimal carbon footprint
- Minimizing waste generation
- Incorporate educational programs that enrich the community
- Provide employment opportunities related to the mission
- The creation of a venue which may act as a catalyst for building and nurturing community
- Sharing stories of food production and history associated with the site
One of our most significant goals has been to incorporate opportunities for local participation in the construction of the farm. Our financially feasible plan is designed to include local participation and purchasing. The project will include the following community-based development strategies.
Specifically requesting qualifications and proposals from local, small, and/or disadvantaged design and construction firms.
By “local hire” Urban Tilth means employing residents of North Richmond, the City of Richmond and the City of San Pablo in project construction. Contractors and direct-hire candidates will be given additional points in the hiring process based on the following ranking: 1) North Richmond, 2) City of Richmond, 3) City of San Pablo.
- Target for Local Direct-Hire Goal for Urban Tilth-led Construction of Gardens and Temporary Buildings: 80%
- Target for Local-Hire Goal for Contractor Bids: 30%. The greater the percentage of local hire shown in proposals, the more points the contractor’s proposal will earn.
- Training and Apprenticeship. Proposals that include training and apprenticeship programs will receive more points in proposal evaluations.
* Keep up to date with the construction on our blog.
* See a detailed timeline and learn about the architectural designs.