Our Mission and Our Story
Urban Adamah seeks to integrate the practices of Jewish tradition, sustainable agriculture, mindfulness, and social action to build more loving, just, and sustainable communities.
Urban Adamah, a productive green oasis in industrial West Berkeley, bustles with children, youth, and adults learning to grow food and creating and celebrating community. After 5 years at a temporary location, we now are settling into our permanent home on 6th street, nestled alongside a restored segment of Codornices Creek.
Founded in 2010 as the first urban Jewish community farm in the U.S., the seeds of Urban Adamah were planted more than a decade ago in Connecticut, when Adam Berman founded the Adamah Fellowship, a farm-based Jewish residential leadership program at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. In this three month program, young adults experience the compelling combination of leadership training, organic farming, environmental literacy, and progressive Jewish living and learning. More than 1000 graduates have gone on to make significant contributions to Jewish life and environmental stewardship in communities across North America.
Adam believed that the success of the Adamah Fellowship could be built upon in an urban environment to reach more people, form community partnerships, and serve diverse populations. Adam set his sights on establishing an urban farm that provides a fellowship program similar to Adamah, offers agriculturally-based experiential Jewish programs for youth and families, and contributes to food security and food justice in the East Bay.
In 2010, Adam brought together a board and donors to found Urban Adamah, an independent non-profit organization in Berkeley, California. The first steps were to find land, establish a fellowship program, and work together to build a farm.
For the first five years, our farm was located on a temporary leased one-acre undeveloped lot. It included raised beds for vegetables, greenhouses, a small aquaponics system, teaching tents, meditation spaces, chickens, bees, and milking goats. We used every square inch we could, even growing food in soil piled directly onto concrete and distributed 90% of our food to people in need at our Weekly Free Farm Stand. And while our fellows operate the farm, they also spend a day a week interning at other food justice and urban gardening organizations.
With the Urban Adamah Fellowship as the core program, our farm quickly evolved into a thriving Jewish education center and gathering place for the entire Bay Area Jewish community. Our offerings have grown to include a robust set of youth programs and camps, holiday celebrations, workshops and public programs, which we continue to develop to meet the needs and interests of our participants.
Recognizing the vulnerability of having our entire organization reliant on a temporary lease that would only last a few years, we began in 2013 looking for a permanent home. With the support of hundreds of generous donors, we were able to acquire and develop the beautiful property at 1151 6th St. in North West Berkeley that has become our permanent home.
We moved to the new campus in September, 2016. Still under development, our new site significantly expands our space and includes many enhanced programmatic elements to support our work: a community and teaching kitchen, a children’s garden, a 30 foot yurt, a large aquaponics facility, and a fellows residence. We also are planning to build, pending funding, an overnight retreat center, additional indoor program spaces, and a farm-to-table cafe. Wherever feasible, our site demonstrates the most effective and sustainable agricultural and building design strategies. As we work our soil and do not yet have an abundance of produce, we have put our farm stand on hiatus and are donating our food to the Berkeley Food Pantry. (Click here for an in-depth description of our farm.)
We are grateful to the thousands of extraordinary people – donors, staff, fellows, community members and program leaders- who have made our work possible.
We look forward to welcoming you to the farm, and joining us in our work to build more loving, just and sustainable communities.