Bottom's Up Community Garden, Urban Farming & Food Justice
By, Seneca Scott and Stella Iman Dugall
On the corner of 8th and Peralta is home to an experimental localized food system tasked with an agenda to re-shape West Oakland, Lower Bottoms’ understanding of food security. This localized food system is developed by Bottom’s Up Community Garden – which, believes that it is only through the decolonization of our current industrial agricultural system will communities improve their health, nutritional awareness and biodiversity.
The philosophy of Bottom’s Up Community Garden is nestled under a long, rich history of food justice actions in Oakland, California. The most notable influence, the Free Children’s Breakfast Program (CBP) founded by the Black Panther Party (BPP) in 1969. It does not exist today due to COINTELPRO, a covert and illegal program birthed by J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1924 to 1972. Hoover assumed the Free Children’s Breakfast Program to be the “greatest threat” to neutralize the State’s ultimate goal - which, was to dismantle the Black Panther Party. Although the BPP and all 60 of their Serve the People Programs were effectively destroyed, the radical action of the CBP was the catalyst for the United States Department of Agriculture to launch the School Breakfast Program, that to this day has fed 14.57 million school children.
Oakhella’s dedication to healthy and holistic living is a natural extension of our roots in Bottoms Up Community Garden (BUCG). In fact, Oakhella’s first music festival took place in the garden, and since we have always approached event planning in West Oakland with nourishment and agriculture in mind. We honor the legacy of self-determined actions motivated by being living inhabitants of a food desert community.
The connection to our core audience has been magnified through the siren call of nature and its many health benefits. Those of you who have been to an Oakhella event in BUCG have witnessed the beautiful dance of nature. Maybe you have experienced the heat radiating off the towering sunflowers, that are fertilized by the bees who make their hexagonal prism-shaped homes on top of the chicken coop. All the while, jammin’ to the sounds of Oakland’s very own. Oakhella and BUCG believe in healthy communities, and we do our part to manifest this reality through the triad of music, art and food.