Urban Adamah to start shoveling earth at new site soon

Urban Adamah, the community farm and education center in Berkeley that is committed to food, farming and Jewish tradition, plans to break ground on its new, 2.2-acre site by the end of the month.

Though the farm had originally planned to begin limited operations on its new site in March, the transition was delayed due to the permitting process with Berkeley dragging on longer than expected, according to Adam Berman, Urban Adamah’s executive director.

Urban Adamah sign at its new location in Berkeley.

The nonprofit also is still raising money needed to develop the site, along the Codornices Creek in northwest Berkeley.

“We’ve been in the permitting process with the city for almost a year now,” said Berman, explaining that the city’s engineers have requested several modifications along the way. “We expect to get the first permit within three weeks for the initial development, which includes underground infrastructure.”

The first phase of development, which will take about two months, involves grading the site, installing plumbing and electricity, and putting in access roads and parking lots, Berman said. After that, by the end of the summer, he added, Urban Adamah plans to start erecting the first buildings: an outdoor kitchen, a bathhouse with showers, an administration building and a large yurt for indoor programming such as crafts and yoga classes.

Urban Adamah bought the $2.1 million property two years ago in anticipation of its free lease on its current location in West Berkeley expiring at the end of 2015. The organization has so far raised $2 million of the $3.5 million it needs to develop the property, Berman said, adding that Urban Adamah has enough cash to cover operations on the new site through October.

Adam Berman, executive director of Urban Adamah, outside the new location photos/urban adamah

“We’re in conversation with many potential donors, found­ations and individuals,” Berman said. “We have lots of naming opportunities that are still avail­able.” For example, a donor of $100,000 will get a commemorative plaque on the forthcoming Havdallah spice garden, and $25,000 gets naming rights to the compost center.

Though it may be possible to extend the lease on the current property past the end of the year, if needed, Berman said he’s assuming Urban Adamah will transition to the new site by the end of 2015. Adamah means “earth” in Hebrew.

The current site is at 1050 Parker St. in Berkeley, not far from the newer Berkeley Bowl supermarket on Heinz Avenue. There, Urban Adamah continues to operate as usual and host activities, such as a community Lag B’Omer celebration on Wednesday, May 6, and a hands-on farm exploration program and picnic for families with children ages 3-5 on May 10.

The new property is at 1151 Sixth St. in Berkeley, just north of Gilman Street and not far from the Pyramid Brewery and Alehouse.

The new site eventually will include greenhouses, a community hall and sleeping cabins for retreats. The farm will be twice as large as the original site and its crops will be planted in the ground instead of in raised beds, allowing for trees and perennials.

“The new site is going to be phenomenal,” Berman said.

Drew Himmelstein
Drew Himmelstein

Drew Himmelstein is a former J. reporter who writes about education, families and Jewish life. She lives with her husband and two sons.