Six years ago, Urban Tilth took a neglected three-acre plot of land in North Richmond and turned it into a flourishing and productive farm for the community. On this land, they grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce every year and distribute food to hundreds of local families in need, often in concert with other small BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and women-run farms.

Now, Urban Tilth is working to purchasing the land they’ve been leasing, expand programing, and build new infrastructure like a farm stand, outdoor classrooms, commercial kitchen, co-op café, community room, educational gardens, and more. The land would provide a permanent home for Urban Tilth and a robust, sustainable food hub and community gathering place for the residents of North Richmond and San Pablo.

Rachel’s Network provided a grant to Urban Tilth to help make this vision a reality. Urban Tilth Executive Director Doria Robinson is also a winner of the 2020 Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award, which celebrates women environmental leaders of color with a $10,000 prize, networking opportunities, and national recognition for their work.

“Doria frequently emphasizes the importance of investing first and foremost in the residents in her community. This approach has enabled her to build a powerful movement for community-led food sovereignty and economic prosperity in Richmond, a city where industrial polluters like Chevron have held disastrous power.” said Rachel’s Network President Fern Shepard. “Urban Tilth is making the community’s wish for a healthier Richmond a reality and we are thrilled to support it.”

In January 2021, Urban Tilth was cleared to buy the farm’s property from Contra Costa County and they continue raising money to ensure construction on the project begins this spring.

Rachel’s Network, a nonprofit organization named in Rachel Carson’s honor, promotes women as impassioned leaders and agents of change dedicated to the stewardship of the earth. The Network builds productive alliances among members and offers services that empower them to lead.

Urban Tilth uses seven school and community gardens and small urban farms in Contra Costa County, California to teach and employ community members to grow, distribute, cook, and consume thousands of pounds of local produce each year. They are creating a more equitable and just food system within a healthier and more self-sufficient community.

Photo: Urban Tilth

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