Press Release

Friends of Alemany Farm, Rise St. James, and Urban Beet Join Earth Island Institute

Three New Projects Join a Network of 75 Others Working on Environmental Issues Around the World

Berkeley, CA (August 25, 2021) — Friends of Alemany Farm, Rise St. James, and Urban Beet have joined Earth Island Institute, which will serve as a fiscal sponsor of the three projects, joining a network of more than 75 other projects that work on environmental issues locally and globally.

Friends of Alemany Farm, led by co-directors Abby Bell and Jack Thomas, is a fifteen-year-old grassroots, community-based agricultural project. The farm itself is San Francisco’s largest and most productive agriculture site; in partnership with the land, the project feeds at least 7,500 of San Francisco’s low-income, food-insecure residents each year by growing and distributing 25,000 pounds of free, organic fruits and vegetables. Its mission is to sow the seeds of food security, food sovereignty, and food justice among marginalized communities in southeast San Francisco through service, collaboration, and education. Friends of Alemany Farm envisions a city in which low-income, frontline populations grow and prepare their own food in abundance, contributing surplus to a hyper-local, hyper-affordable local food network — one in which city residents foster equitable, restorative, sustainable, and life-giving relationships with each other and with the Earth.

Rise St. James is a faith-based grassroots organization that is fighting for environmental justice as it works to defeat the proliferation of petrochemical industries in St. James Parish, Louisiana. Nicknamed “Cancer Alley” for the above-average rates of cancer there, the area is home to a high concentration of polluting industries. Despite this, the state has plans to expand this chemical corridor with dozens more factories. Led by Sharon Lavigne, 2021’s Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Rise St. James galvanized community opposition and successfully defeated the construction of a $1.25 billion plastics manufacturing plant in 2019. The group is currently fighting to prevent Formosa Plastics from building a massive multibillion-dollar plastics plant in the parish.

Based in Maryland, and led by 2020 Brower Youth Award winner Chander Payne, Urban Beet builds urban farms for homeless shelters and schools in underprivileged communities. Urban Beet applies a three-step approach to connect people with the planet for the healing of both. The project starts by identifying shelters and schools in need of fresh food and then collaborates with them to design and build a productive community garden at no cost. People experiencing homelessness are taught how to grow food in harmony with the planet using Urban Beet’s educational materials, creating a community of caring and curiosity. Lastly, Urban Beet ensures that the farm remains healthy in the long term by hosting community workdays to foster togetherness and connection. The project currently has farms in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Michigan, with an ongoing mission to plant more seeds and spread more love.

“We’re thrilled to have Friends of Alemany Farm, Rise St. James, and Urban Beet as part of Earth Island’s network. They complement the array of our projects that are addressing a diverse range of environmental issues. Both the fight for environmental justice and the efforts to protect the health and well-being of our communities are central to our mission. We look forward to supporting these projects as they grow their programs,” said Earth Island Operations Director Susan Kamprath.

As an alternative to individual nonprofits, each duplicating basic administrative functions, Earth Island Institute provides administrative resources and a synergistic exchange of experience, ideas, and energy for more than 75 projects, each functioning with programmatic autonomy, through its fiscal sponsor program. The result is a powerful community working toward a sustainable future.