Meeting Needs & Shifting Culture

At Cooperation Humboldt, we believe that access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food is a fundamental human right.

by Tamara McFarland, Cooperation Humboldt

At Cooperation Humboldt, we believe that access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food is a basic human right, and must not be denied to anyone regardless of income level.

We’re working to return this region to a regenerative and life-sustaining food forest capable of supporting every resident with the food that they need for a healthy and active life.

Our Food Sovereignty projects have been developed through a strategic process of exploring goals, strategies, and tactics. We’ve carefully evaluated what services already exist in our community and focused on creating new and innovative projects. Our work meets tangible needs while empowering residents with new tools and skills and strengthening community connections.

We aim to address hunger not through charity but rather by providing folks with the information and materials they need to meet more of their own needs – and the needs of their communities – while reducing (and ultimately eliminating) reliance on the highly destructive industrialized/globalized food system.


Our first food project focused on establishing Little Free Pantries as neighborhood hubs for resource sharing and relationship building. We’ve installed 25 Pantries in the greater Humboldt Bay area. They operate similarly to the more well-known Little Free Libraries – anyone can donate nonperishable food or personal care items, and anyone can take what they need, 24 hours a day. These little blue boxes have been embraced wholeheartedly by community members, with each receiving daily use.


Our volunteers have also helped to convert about 20 front lawns into productive gardens featuring food plants as well as natives and pollinator plants. Like our Pantries, these lawn conversions are aimed at shifting the way food is viewed in communities – as an asset that we can collectively grow and share, rather than just a commodity to be bought and sold.


For the past three years, we’ve offered free fruit trees to community members and organizations willing to make the fruit available to anyone who wants some. We expect to complete planting our 230th fruit tree by April 2021.


In Spring 2020, as the pandemic struck, we realized the need to get food resources to those who needed them the most. This led to the launch of our Mini Gardens project, and within six months we had delivered and installed 260 complete small garden setups to low-income residents. This not only provides food in the short term – it also empowers participants to grow more of their own food well into the future.


In partnership with Centro del Pueblo, Open Door Community Health Centers, and the Arcata Presbyterian Church, Cooperation Humboldt is now managing the community garden on the corner of 11th and F Streets in Arcata. The garden is filled with edible perennials, annuals, herbs and native plants, all cultivated as a sanctuary and community resource for underserved residents. We strive to create a space of learning, empowerment, nutrition, and regeneration.


We provide educational resources relating to growing food including videos, in-person workshops and garden tours, printed materials, and more.


The magazine you’re reading now has recently become part of Cooperation Humboldt’s Food Sovereignty program. When a new publisher was needed, we stepped forward because we knew what an important resource this Guide is for our local community, and we saw great potential for increasing its value even further. We hope you enjoy what you learn here, and we invite you to connect with us to create a community where food is understood to be a human right.

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Tamara McFarland (she/her) is a lifelong resident of Wiyot territory and a mother to two kids. She serves as Board Treasurer and Food Team Anchor for Cooperation Humboldt.
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Posted in 2021 Community Food Guide.