Albany Garden to Table: An Edible Initiative of a Different Kind

July 07, 2011
Renate Valencia
Albany Patch

Would you like to see your plump, homegrown organic radishes blush crimson on a bed of sea salt in a sweet little restaurant? Interested in sharing your extra lemons with locally owned businesses?

Community organizer and hyper-locavore Doug Reil is creating a new program that may be perfect for you.

Albany Garden to Table, a fledgling Albany Edible Initiative, hopes to provide independent, locally owned restaurants and other institutions in the city with organic produce, courtesy of backyard gardens.

Participating growers would drop produce off at the city's weekly
vegetable swap; there is no cost to be involved.

Reil, who works full-time as a publisher, formed Albany Edible Initiatives as part of Transition Albany to connect and build on community food-related efforts. The Albany garden swap, a proposed Albany Community Farm, garden work parties and alternative planning for the Gill Tract and Albany Meadows are on its current roster. 

Albany Garden to Table is unique, however, in its plan to connect community gardeners and restaurant owners. It represents, as Reil put it, “a very different model and way of thinking.”

The program will begin with restaurants, and will later look at expanding to food banks.

“I am starting with restaurants because I want to make an immediate impact on the economics in town, and I also feel restaurants are a forgotten element in this type of community activism,” Reil said. 

Context comes from the Transition movement’s idea that economic breakdown will follow peak oil—when, followers believe, global oil production will reach its maximum and then forever dwindle. Rising oil prices and decreasing availability, the movement predicts, will impact economic sectors reliant on inexpensive oil and force us to meet many needs on a very local level.

The idea is that community members should work together to sustainably produce and share goods now, because one day we’ll have no other choice.

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From left, Douglas Reil talks with "Lawrence of Berkeley" at the Garden Swap, June 14, 2011, Albany, CA. Credit Emilie Raguso

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