In 1998, the last trains rumbled through Alameda’s West End along a mile-long stretch of track known as the Beltline. The former railway, adjacent to Atlantic Avenue near Marina Village, has given the City of Alameda a unique opportunity to create a vibrant open space to benefit the whole community.
Alameda Point Collaborative had the exciting opportunity to help conduct a study to determine if a portion of the beltline property could be converted into a food production garden to serve the needs of clients of the Alameda Food Bank. The food bank, located at the western tip of the Beltline, serves low-income Alameda residents – many of them from our own community – who could benefit from the availability of additional fresh produce.
APC was chosen to lead this study because in addition to providing permanent supportive housing to formerly homeless families and individuals, we operate several innovative social enterprises, including one of the largest urban farms in the inner East Bay. Our experience developing and running the farm greatly informed the feasibility study.
APC conducted an analysis of current conditions; surveyed users of the Alameda Food Bank, and met with other stakeholders including Food Bank Staff and other community groups that expressed an interest in being involved.
Based on this work, our findings are:
- The Alameda Beltline Site (ABL) is a very promising site for use as an urban agriculture and passive use park site.
- Stakeholder meetings held by the Department of Recreation and Parks indicate strong community support for some type of agricultural use for a portion of the park site.
- Due to variability of site topography, material and history, it is highly recommended to grow produce in raised beds or containers for any potential urban agriculture project on the Alameda Beltline.
- Due to high activity interest among users of the Alameda Food Bank, and a lack of capacity among Food Bank Staff and Volunteers to run a production farm, it is recommended to utilize the site as a community garden, with priority given to users of the food bank for garden plots.