BROWER DAY II

Sacramento Boulevard  ~ Berkeley, California ~ June 29, 2002


        Participatory Workshops

How to Manage Pests Naturally
Community Food Service
Preserving the U.C. Gill Tract
ABC's of Pruning
How to Maintain an Organic Garden
Our Water: Source, Supply, Quality
Gardening for All Ages
Creating an Urban Eco-Village
Bees and Honey

Sponsered by Earth Island Institute and Strong Roots

to the festivities ---->

 A Legacy Lives

By Brian Kluepfel, Special to the Daily Planet (07-01-02)

http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com

 

If Berkeley native David Brower's message was to reclaim the earth through common action,
then the late conservationist's soul was appeased on Saturday.

At a day-long event honoring Brower's legacy, two community gardens on Sacramento Street
in southwest Berkeley became gathering places for residents of all ages to have a healthy
lunch, get their faces painted, learn how bees make honey, and most importantly, plant a
crop of vegetables that will find its way to local dinner tables this fall.

Billed as the 2nd Annual Brower Day by the Brower-formed Earth Island Institute, the day's
co-sponsor was Strong Roots, a decade-old organization that encourages youth to get their
hands dirty­ in the garden.

Brower died in October of 2000 at the age of 88, and with the exception of his granddaughter
Rosemary, who was helping local beekeeper Khaled Almaghafi sell some honey Saturday, not
many at the event knew the man. Most, though, had heard of him, and some, like Sherri
Crighton of Martinez, came quite a distance to pay tribute. Along with her 20-month-old son,
Nolan, Crighton was watering a new row of tomato plants that had been planted just that morning.

Representing Brower's generation was Berkeley Vice-Mayor Maudelle Shirek, 91, long-time
activist and political representative in southwest Berkeley. However, Shirek refused to speak
as a politician on this day. Donning a simple straw hat, Shirek told the Daily Planet, "I'm
just a farmer."

She proceeded to talk at some length about her childhood growing up on an Arkansas farm,
and smiled when recounting the vegetables and fruits that were raised by her family: peas,
butter beans, peaches, apples, plums, berries and the like.

"It's very helpful (for these children) to be connected to the earth. That's what's missing
now," she said.

Reinforcing Shirek's statements about the positive impact of the garden on the locals, Strong
Roots' Shyaam Shabaka said, "before we started here, this land had two and a half tons of
glass and garbage on it. Today we are planting tomatoes, peppers, corn, mustard and collard
greens, turnips. The house just across the street a few years ago was the worst crack house
in the neighborhood, where two people got killed and one person was shot 10 times."

The land was donated to Strong Roots by local resident Bill Beasley.

Shabaka says the garden has helped "turn the community around" and that one of the young
people who once worked with Strong Roots now has a civil engineering degree from UCLA.

The fruits of the first harvest will go to a willing audience. "Most of what we grow here will
be donated to the New Light Senior Center and other senior centers, who can appreciate fresh
organic vegetables," said Shabaka. Shabaka is working on developing a similar project with
the Earth Island Institute in Richmond.

Neighbors Michele Morgan and Joseph Camacho, who moved to Woolsey

Street just three years ago, lent their hands at making home-made ice cream. They, too,
noted the impact of Strong Roots youth team on the once-vacant lot.

"It's fascinating to do this in honor of a 'conservation celebrity," said Morgan. "There was
nothing here before."

A strong sun shone on plants and planters alike as the day progressed. Lunch plates were
put down and the bending, digging, planting and watering began in earnest.

Oakland resident Raul Garcia, who came to Strong Roots via the East Bay Conservation Corps,
forced a smile and said, "It will be a long hot summer, but it's worth it. It's fun and I enjoy
doing it."

If David Brower was looking down on the day's events, no doubt he was smiling, too.

 

THE WILDNESS WITHIN US