African American Farmers, Urban Farming, Urban Farmers, Oakland California, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Americans at Work: Urban Farming in West Oakland This week’s Americans at Work essay focuses on inner-city agriculture programs by photographer Preston Gannaway: “Today, about a third of West Oakland residents live in poverty and with food insecurity.


It’s a place where most people get their food from McDonald’s, the 99-cent store, or one of the many corner liquor stores. Due to a lack of nutritious food, low-income areas like this one face overwhelming rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes. In an effort to fill this need, new groups have formed to help combat the neighborhood’s food desert—a term to describe an area where most residents live below the poverty line and a mile or more away from a supermarket.

African American Farmers, Urban Farming, Urban Farmers, Oakland California, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | © Preston Gannaway / GRAIN

African American Farmers, Urban Farming, Urban Farmers, Oakland California, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | © Preston Gannaway / GRAIN

African American Farmers, Urban Farming, Urban Farmers, Oakland California, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | © Preston Gannaway / GRAIN



Oakland is the largest city and the county seat of Alameda County, California, United States. A major West Coast port city, Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, the third largest city overall in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth largest city in California, and the 45th largest city in the United States, with a population of 419,267 as of 2015. It serves as a trade center for the San Francisco Bay Area; its Port of Oakland is the busiest port in the San Francisco Bay, the entirety of Northern California, and the fifth busiest in the United States. The city is located six miles (9.7 km) east of San Francisco. Oakland was incorporated in 1852.

Oakland’s territory covers what was once a mosaic of California coastal terrace prairie, oak woodland, and north coastal scrub. Its land served as a rich resource when its hillside oak and redwood timber were logged to build San Francisco, and Oakland’s fertile flatland soils helped it become a prolific agricultural region. In the late 1860s, Oakland was selected as the western terminal of the Transcontinental Railroad. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many San Francisco citizens moved to Oakland, enlarging the city’s population, increasing its housing stock and improving its infrastructure. It continued to grow in the 20th century with its busy port, shipyards, and a thriving automobile manufacturing industry. Wikipedia