At Cooperation Humboldt, we believe that access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food is a fundamental human right.
by Tamara McFarland, Cooperation Humboldt
Cooperation Humboldt was built upon the conviction that the basic necessities for a good life – like food, shelter and education – should be guaranteed to everyone – full stop. No one should go hungry. No one should be unhoused. No one should lack access to education and meaningful work. Through our various program areas and projects, we are creating solutions at the local level to make this vision a reality.
When it comes to food sovereignty, our objective is 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 while supporting and uplifting the good work that other organizations are already doing to further the goals of food justice.
Our food projects meet immediate tangible needs while empowering residents with new 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.
Little Free Pantries
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.
Community Fruit Trees
For the past four years, we’ve offered free fruit trees to community members and organizations willing to make the fruit available to anyone who wants some. We have planted 260 fruit trees to date. This year’s fruit trees were offered exclusively to local tribal members.
In Spring 2020, we launched our Mini Gardens project, and since that time we have delivered and installed 400 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. We expect to install an additional 100 mini gardens in 2022.
In partnership with Centro del Pueblo and the Arcata Presbyterian Church, Cooperation Humboldt co-stewards Jardín Santuario, 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.
In partnership with our local Small Business Development Center, Cooperation Humboldt’s Worker Owned Humboldt project provides free guidance for folks interested in creating worker-owned cooperatives, including those in the food industry.
Community Food Guide
The magazine you’re reading now became part of Cooperation Humboldt’s Food Sovereignty program in 2021. It is a powerful tool for sharing information, supporting local producers, and empowering residents to access nutritious locally grown foods. This is a critical piece of our broader vision.
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 President and Food Team Coordinator for Cooperation Humboldt.