Urban gardens bring farm fresh tastes to the city

February 25, 1997

From Correspondent Carolyn O'Neil

BERKELEY, California (CNN) -- Getting back to nature doesn't have to mean a trip to the country. Urban vegetable gardens are giving city dwellers a taste of life on the farm.

Seed Planting In Berkeley, California, some gardens are sprouting up just two blocks from the freeway.

In another section of Berkley, Kona Kai farms occupies just one acre in the middle of an industrial zone. However, its impact is widely felt in the community.

"We do everything organically. Production is high, and we supply three dozen restaurants and public food canteens lunch everyday," said Michael Norton of Kona Kai Farms.

Michael Norton started in Kona Kai ten years ago in another area of Berkeley. Now it's one of the nation's largest urban organic farms.

"I didn't have a garden, no farming experience. I didn't even have a houseplant, and I was able to do this," Norton said.

Horticulturalists are part of the staff now, and they welcome visitors who amble through the aisles.

Even though the sights and sounds of urban life are very close by, the lunch crowd packs picnic tables or sits back in lawn chairs savoring the garden view.

"It's a little microcosm of nature amidst the urban sprawl," said one lunch customer.

And there's more to savor than the setting.

Chef David Shalleck, who wheels in from his off-site kitchen, offers a menu inspired by the what's fresh at Kona Kai.

"It's pretty nice. This guides our menu, so it's a nice way to work," said Shalleck.

Pull Quote

Kona Kai farms offers city dwellers away to take their bodies and their souls back to nature.

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