by Patty Mead
Image: In Good Company
For the past four summers, Mechanician and M.Arch. student Matt Wolpe has led an annual week-long building project in partnership with City Slicker Farms and Clif Bar's In Good Company. City Slicker Farms is a non-profit organization in West Oakland that helps low income residents access and grow fresh fruits and vegetables. In Good Company is an alliance of businesses that sends employees into communities several times a year for week-long, volunteer service projects focused on providing access to healthy food, sustainable housing and environmental restoration and education. Other local companies that participate in In Good Company include Ahnu, Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s, Guittard Chocolate and Numi Tea. Past summer projects have included small chicken coops for backyard gardeners, a large chicken coop for their farm, and a greenhouse and nursery to increase their yield; it has been Matt’s job to design these projects and coordinate every part of the construction.
In July 2013, CED Fabrication Shop Manager Semar Prom and Mechanician Tonia Chi joined Matt Wolpe in this design/build program which built two structures: 1) an outdoor classroom at one of the farm sites to serve as a base for a farm stand as well as a place to host classes and workshops on urban agriculture, and 2) a wood shop where City Slicker employees can efficiently build raised beds that can be given to resident backyard gardeners at no cost. The timber frame outdoor classroom was designed by Matt and Tonia and Tonia led the build on that project while Matt designed the Woodshop and other structures. This summer’s program had many precision built-in components, where pre-fabrication in CED’s Shop was integral to having an excellent product. The build went very well with over 22 people from 14 companies learning and building together.
Following that success, CED’s staff (Semar Prom, Matt Wolpe, and Dov Osheroff) were invited to South Bronx, New York, for a week-long stay to assist in setting up a similar program. They are turning a 40' shipping container into an art gallery, rehabbing an old brick house into an art studio for a group of young artists, and building a multi-use concession stand. Upon arrival they spent time prepping the site and prepared the volunteers with the necessary shop safety orientation.
CED hopes to continue this collaboration into the future as the Shop's Artisan/Crafts Workshop program takes shape for this coming summer.