Hands in the Earth: ecology, spirituality and secularity among urban agriculturalists in the East Bay, 2013-14

I did preliminary field work from July to August 2013 at three different urban farms in the East Bay, beginning with Urban Adamah in West Berkeley and including, tentatively, City Slickers in West Oakland and the Gill Tract Community Farm in Albany. This research was ultimately abandoned although the fundamental questions (and to some degree, the cultural-historical streams that constitute these sites) inform my current research on amateur mycologists in the Bay Area. The work on urban farms is not yet processed in any form but might generate a paper at some point in the future.

Seeding the new Gill Tract community farm

Seeding the new Gill Tract community farm

Me Digging Gill Tract 4:26:14

An open day at the Gill Tract. I’m in the black brimmed hat.


The Student Organic Garden where I took part in a class taught by argoecologist Miguel Altieri. His tireless GSIs led the practicum in the garden.

UA - Peah Sign

The entrance to the main area of the farm at Urban Adamah. The sign explains the principle of tithing in Jewish Law, signified by the word “pe’ah,” meaning “the corner of the field.” (These laws are explained in the Torah in Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 23:22, and Deuteronomy 24:19-22 and in the second tractate of the first book of the Mishnah, Seder Zera’im.) At Urban Adamah, it is interpreted as a call to charity, in this case a weekly free food stand for “the community in need.”