E-Mail Forum
  Farms in Richmond?
December 31, 2010

I was visiting Sunnyside Organic Seedlings last week in North Richmond, and it all of a sudden came to me what a thriving and potentially expandable urban agricultural opportunity we have in West Contra Costa County. Sunnyside is located in and around a 7-acre cluster of greenhouses in North Richmond left over from one of the Japanese nurseries that last operated in the mid 1990s. Take a look at their website to see what they do and who their customers are. They are surrounded by other agricultural uses in other old greenhouses rented by growers of orchids, cymbidiums and other special plants.

Photo One

Like other urban agriculture operations in West County, they are located on out of the way places off the beaten path, but they are only minutes away from our homes, businesses and transportation routes. Others I know about include Annie’s Annuals, EcoVillage Farm, The Watershed Nursery, Urban Tilth, Richmond Library Seed Bank, Richmond Garden Club, The Watershed Project and others.

I am encouraged that there really is a growing agricultural industry right here, making productive use of economically marginal land, hiring  and training local young people, creating businesses and showing that we could actually be significantly food self-sufficient.

All these operations face challenges, however, including:

  • Access to credit and capital
  • Unsympathetic regulatory agencies
  • Access to markets
  • Long term stability of available land resources


I am assigning a Richmond City Council intern, Erica McFadden, to manage a project that will result in a West Contra Costa Urban Agriculture Summit in March of 2011. The objective would include but not be limited to:

  • Identify every urban agriculture operation in West County, and create a list of contacts.
  • Identify potential areas of collaboration among existing organizations that can strengthen the movement.
  • Identify regulatory constraints and opportunities in the cities and Contra Costa County that can be modified to benefit urban agriculture.
  • Identify potential markets


Parties to be invited would include:

  • Urban agriculture operators and potential operators.
  • Key city and county staff and legislators.
  • Existing and potential customers (restaurant chefs, farmers markets, etc.)


Photo Two

I am asking Erica to start planning and organizing this by contacting the organizations listed above and any others who might participate.

I envision a one-day session, probably on a Saturday that includes morning presentations and discussion followed by afternoon field trips to sites.

I am asking everyone to whom this is addressed to help Erica identify potential participants, issues and opportunities. Erica_mcfadden@ci.richmond.ca.us, 510-620-5488