Island City Home to Innovative Soil Regeneration, Climate Change Effort

Courtesy -- A youth group visits some Alameda resident sheep at the REAP Center, a climate-sensitive nonprofit taking shape along Tynan Avenue near the Posey Tube.
Courtesy -- A youth group visits some Alameda resident sheep at the REAP Center, a climate-sensitive nonprofit taking shape along Tynan Avenue near the Posey Tube.

Island City Home to Innovative Soil Regeneration, Climate Change Effort

A half-mile long campus with the express purpose of serving as a science center, community garden, tech incubator and makerspace has been taking shape at 2133 Tynan Ave., near Alameda’s Posey Tube. The Regeneration Education Aquaculture Permaculture (REAP) Center, in development for the past 20 months, may prove the first of many soil remediation and training centers nationwide. REAP hopes to set a successful precedent that leads to “at least one center in every state.”

The organization promotes the idea that “Living soil is the foundation of life on Earth. A handful of healthy soil has more microbes than there are people on Earth,” states
“This biodiversity can yield nutrition unparalleled in monoculture farming, sequester more carbon than the ocean, and generate power contributing to resilient microgrids.”

The leader behind this effort, Jonathan DeLong, REAP Center Executive Director, explains that the reap center is looking to remove carbon from the atmosphere “at scale” while using a regenerative soil approach that integrates three related tenets: carbon sequestration, enhanced nutrition, and anaerobic renewable energy generation. The 501(c)(3) non profit hopes to foster “gigaton-level carbon sequestration.”

The center researches, demonstrates and teaches about nature’s regenerative processes realizing its mission to use biodiversity, biomimicry and other technological advances to develop ongoing efforts to reverse climate change. Students can take advantage of learning skills up through the PhD level. The soil science lab and education facility has exhibits that incorporate citizen science with the timeless joy of playing in the dirt.

The REAP Center has found ways to manage and retain 1.5 million gallons of water on its 4.26 acres. Hundreds of visitors from schools, corporations and other organizations have explored everything from bioswales to beehives to the Biome Boutique. The staff at REAP clearly have a sense of humor as other exhibits include Worm World, Fermentation Station, the Fungi Hut and several other whimsical places to visit and learn. REAP has received 1,200 tons of earthen material, planted 60 trees and started a pollinator garden. The area is also described as an “edible urban park” encouraging visitors to snack as they explore.

The next phase of the effort will deliver 1.2 acres of food forest, a half acre nursery, and some 140 new trees planted. The center plans to capture and reuse 100 tons of green waste and 300 tons of compost. Goals also include: training 500 community members, storing 34,000 gallons of water in five cisterns and opening eight soil labs and exhibits.

To fund this effort, REAP has been working with Google, Autodesk and several other technology firms to provide a venue for their corporate volunteer and climate action. The center also supports innovators that use biomimicry, the regenerative rhythm of nature, and are working to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges by providing them space to grow.

The center has already partnered with related local efforts 100,000 Trees for Humanity and the Alameda Young Naturalist Club and provided plots for these organizations to further their goals. Other partner organizations already joined in the effort include: Abundant Earth Foundation, Alameda Island Brewing, Double Six Design, Kiss the Ground, Line 51 Brewing and Make Soil.

The center uses the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to target and measure the center’s impact. According to REAP, healthy soil practices can lead to:
• Restored water cycles
• Reversed desertification
• Sequestered carbon
• Rebuilt ecosystems
• Supported ocean health
• Enhanced food nutrition
• Optimized agriculture
• Improved human health
• Resilient communities
• Improved equity and equality

The REAP Center is still developing its programs and awaits participation from interested Alamedans to help it succeed. Additional donors, corporate partners and climate-focused partner organizations are needed.

Visit for a list of upcoming events, programs, camps and workshops or to learn more about how to get involved. Volunteers may show up for the weekly open house and volunteer hours every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to sunset and Sunday from 10 a.m. to sunset.

Courtesy   The REAP Center offers space for farm guilds, a tech and art incubator, a food forest, soil laboratory and lots more on both sides of Tynan Avenue in Alameda.