Dining on the Farm at Alameda Point
The Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) served up gourmet meals at its annual Urban Farm Table fundraising event on Sunday, May 15. About 100 guests were seated under a canopy squarely in the middle of crops growing on the Alameda Point farm.
This year’s menu was again created by Jeff Rosen, executive chef at Blue Heron Catering of Oakland. Some of the salad and entrée ingredients, such as arugula, strawberries and onions were grown within a few steps of the table.
APC is the largest supportive housing provider for homeless families in Alameda County. Adults in the community can acquire new job skills and self-confidence in APC’s various enterprises — Ploughshares Nursery, Farm2Market farm production, and commercial kitchen. The Farm2Market program sells produce through a subscription service.
Matthew Dolan, executive chef at Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco, gave the keynote address. His message centered on food choices. Food that is bad for your health is often bad for the environment because of the way it is produced, according to Dolan.
Dolan singled out Monsanto Corporation for manipulation of agricultural seed production geared to boost production at the expense of the environment. He also said that some hamburger meat used in fast food restaurants was a grade below the meat used in dog food.
Dolan praised the kind of positive changes in food choices that are being made possible by community farms like APC’s.
Guest speaker and APC resident Jamie Sneed exemplified the value of the Collaborative’s programs. Her story began on the floor of the emergency room at John George Psychiatric Hospital as victim of a suicide attempt in 2011. She went from the hospital to a shelter in Hayward, sharing a windowless room with nine other women, and then moved to transitional housing before landing a spot at APC.
Sneed credits APC’s career center and its on-the-job training program with motivating her. “It was such a transformative experience,” said Sneed. “I will never be the same. The six-month program gave my life structure when I needed it most.”
Sneed spends part of her time working on the farm. She is also polishing her writing skills and has taught computer skills to others, as a result of APC’s training program. “For those of you who have supported us over the years, thank you,” said Sneed. “I am here because of you.”
APC operates an education center to serve the more than 300 children and youth who live there. Literacy is a major focus of the academic programming. School-aged children get support with homework, one-on-one tutoring and participate in special enrichment activities at the center.
APC was formed in 1999 following the closure of Alameda’s Naval Air Station. APC was allowed to acquire 34 acres under provisions of the federal McKinney Act, which was created in the mid-1980s to address homelessness.