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Clif Bar Employees Enhance Alameda Point Farm

On June 27, two tour buses pulled up at Alameda Point Collaborative’s Farm2Market urban farm. Roughly 100 employees of Clif Bar & Company, maker of plant-based energy bars, disembarked for a day of community service on company time. Another 65 workers got out at other Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) locations. In an effort to help keep the farm successful, the workers fanned out in teams to prune fruit trees, pull weeds in vegetable rows, construct rinsing tables for fruits and vegetables, and assemble and stain picnic tables and benches.

Alameda Point - Clif Bar workers pulling weeds at Alameda Point farm. Photo Richard Bangert.
Clif Bar workers pulling weeds at Alameda Point farm. Photo Richard Bangert.

Clif Bar brought along a “motivational associate” for the daylong blitz—a DJ who cranked out dance music from a stage, giving new meaning to the term “work party.”

Amid the festive atmosphere, some of the volunteers hoisted extension pole tree pruners to lop off branches from lemon trees, while others piled the trimmings in wheelbarrows to be hustled over to the mountain of green waste. Elsewhere, workers screwed pieces of lumber together and tacked down galvanized screening to build veggie rinsing tables, as others working nearby assembled and stained picnic tables and benches. Meanwhile, out in the vegetable rows, volunteers got down on hands and knees to pull weeds.



Alameda Post - Clif Bar workers constructing tables to be used for rinsing fruits and vegetables prior to sale. Photo Richard Bangert.
Clif Bar workers constructing tables to be used for rinsing fruits and vegetables prior to sale. Photo Richard Bangert.

The biggest addition to the farm was a new greenhouse, at least the beginnings of one. The ground was cleared of old plant stubble and the metal frame superstructure was erected by day’s end. The transparent cover and doors, however, will be finished by other volunteers, according to farm manager Johnny Bootlace. Not only will it add capacity when finished, but the size and design of the greenhouse “will produce higher temperatures conducive to growing more vegetable types,” Bootlace said.

The arrival of the helpers was preceded during the prior week by various deliveries of construction materials to the farm and four other APC locations, courtesy of Clif Bar.

Alameda Post - Clif Bar worker assembling framing for new greenhouse. Photo Richard Bangert.
Clif Bar worker assembling framing for new greenhouse. Photo Richard Bangert.

“Workers also provided service at Ploughshares Nursery, Teen Center, Elementary Education Center, and our Adult Services Center,” said APC Executive Director Doug Biggs. Tasks included painting a basketball court and patio at the Teen Center, constructing a shade structure and assembling retail display tables at Ploughshares Nursery, and providing training in resume writing and interview skills for potential career paths at Clif Bar and elsewhere.

“We had about 165 volunteers from Clif Bar, and some of our regular friends and residents showed up to pitch in along with staff, totaling over 200 people helping out Alameda Point Collaborative on Tuesday,” Biggs said. All told, upgrades to the Farm were worth about $10,000, while Ploughshares upgrades were worth about $8,000 and the youth programs upgrades more than $5,000.

Alameda Post - Clif Bar workers pruning lemon trees in the fruit orchard. Photo Richard Bangert.
Clif Bar workers pruning lemon trees in the fruit orchard. Photo Richard Bangert.

“We love hosting volunteer groups, but it is so much more impactful when they come with a budget to help fund program improvements so we can better serve the formerly homeless residents that call APC home,” said Biggs. “Last fall, they sponsored our annual Harvest Festival and built booths and games for the event, and this spring, a team put up trellises for beans to grow, and they are often on-site at Ploughshares Nursery lending a hand.”

Clif Bar first started holding company-wide volunteer events when there was talk of them relocating their headquarters to Alameda. “Even though that didn’t work out, they have continued to be a meaningful partner at APC for years,” Biggs said.

Alameda Post - Framing for new greenhouse being assembled in the background. Photo Richard Bangert.
Framing for new greenhouse being assembled in the background. Photo Richard Bangert.

“Through the act of extending a hand—not just once in a while but as a regular part of life—we are changed as individuals and as a company,” the Clif Bar website explains. Every year the company closes its Emeryville office for a full day so employees can all volunteer together. “We’re committed to taking care of our planet, and it’s baked into everything we do,” Clif Bar states. “We manage our resources sustainably and help others do the same.”

The APC farm, located at 2600 Barbers Point Road, is always looking for volunteers from organizations and individuals. Produce is sold to the public through a subscription membership system by season. The proceeds go toward various programs run by the Collaborative.

Contributing writer Richard Bangert posts stories and photos about environmental issues on his blog Alameda Point Environmental Report, https://alamedapointenviro.com/. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Richard-Bangert.

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