Upinde ROOTS is a project of Urban VOICE, a social justice education group. Our intent is to incubate a cadre of enthusiastic, passionate city farmers to develop a cooperative business that serves communities with the highest need for nutritious foods. Funding is through fees for our workshops and products we sell. We are available to consult with your group as well as provide onsite training.
Upinde (prounounced up-in-dee) is the Swahili word for Rainbow. ROOTS stands for Retain Our Organic Traditions. Urban VOICE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Emeryville, CA.
Upinde ROOTS is a social enterprise dedicated to the cause of food justice and economic development in under-served communities. We accomplish this goal by educating and training residents in proper nutritional and micro-farming business strategies; thereby empowering them to become "urban entrepreneurs" and responsible stewards of their environment.
6031 Christie Ave., Emeryville, CA 94608 (by appointment only)
Copyright Urban VOICE 2010. All rights reserved.
Boku Kodama has been an avid urban container farmer since 2003 when he discovered the EarthBox. Working with backyard farming since
1979, Boku optioned for the EarthBox when he and his wife downsized to an Emeryville condo. Through trial and error, he learned to
grow a bounty supply of organic vegetables using rich organic potting mix and organic chicken poop. Boku is a founding member of Upinde
ROOTS and the executive director of Urban VOICE.
Meet Our Team
Jonathan Gomwalk is a founding member of Upinde ROOTS and is certified in Permaculture Design from Common Circle Education.
He spent 8+ years working for the non-profit San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) as a Program Manager and later as Executive
Director. Jonathan has served on several boards including SF Clean City Coalition, SF Local Homeless Coordinating Committee,
and the SF Bay-View Project Area Committee.
"I believe the statement, 'We are what we eat.' The vast majority of us lack access to healthy, affordable foods and this has unfortunately become a factor in further widening the gap between privileged and non-privileged communities. It is my passion that through widespread and vigorous involvement in urban farming, we may begin to gradually tip the scale."
Heidi Asztalos is a social entrepreneur who combines her financial and non-profit education and work experience to promote her passions
for food justice, environmental sustainability and economic development. She received her Permaculture Design Certification
in February 2010 with a concentration in urban farming, local foods, green jobs, and sustainable cities. She is a founding member
of Upinde ROOTS.
"Getting oneís hands into the soil balances the time itís on the keyboard. Getting back to our most fundamental chores has a grounding effect that brings one back to whatís truly meaningful. Itís primitive in a good way and reminds us that weíre still humans and an integral part of this earth."
"I am passionate about being part of the solution to eradicate hunger, alleviate poverty and green our environment. Being an urban farmer allows me to work to achieve these goals on a local, national, and global level."
In Their Own Words...
Erin Kodama is the project coordinator and web designer for Upinde ROOTS. Prior to joining the team, Erin was Assistant
Vice President of Specialty Deposits at East West Bank for five years, specializing in commercial banking for the real estate industry
in Los Angeles. Erin is passionate about nutritious, organic cooking using locally grown fruits and vegetables.
"My passion for urban farming stems from my passion for food. I believe that everyone should have access to flavorful, healthy food and that the best-tasting vegetables, are the ones we've cultivated ourselves."
"Growing food is one of our most primitive and necessary skills. Yet the majority of us lack the knowledge and the resources to do this. Upinde ROOTS provides the tools and education necessary to bring us back to our roots."
Marcus Kodama is the landscaping and irrigation specialist for Upinde ROOTS. He has had a passion for landscape design
and gardening since early childhood, and enjoys creating beauty and efficiency within natural landscapes. Currently
studying Mechanical Engineering, he hopes to utilize his knowledge of business and design to make our planet a greener place, one
seed at a time.