BLOG / Interviews with Change-Makers: Meet Planting Justice

Interviews with Change-Makers: Meet Planting Justice

Author: Apeel Team

We know it will take a global village to truly fight food waste. And there are other social issues to solve in tandem with our mission -- organizations out here doing the good work to drive systems of change in our society. We like to think of them as co-conspirators of the Food Gone Good movement. 

One of those is Planting Justice, a grassroots food justice organization based in Oakland, CA. With a staff of more than 40, 3/4th of which are Black, Brown, or Indigenous, PJ works within East Oakland to increase the wealth of food knowledge and access in that community. They also offer full-time employment with a holistic approach to formerly incarcerated returning community members. 

Planting Justice has proudly installed 550 edible gardens throughout their home city of Oakland. These programs generate their own revenue and lower dependence on foundations and grants, which helps them create and stimulate investment in the land and capital infrastructure and generate actual revenue. 

To share more about the Planting Justice vision and goals and how Apeel is helping support their big vision, we have Ashley Yates, Planting Justice’s media director, and Crystal Franco, Apeel’s Compliance Coordinator, answering a few questions: 

Can you tell us about the Planting Justice mission? 

Ashley: Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing. 

How about when and why Planting Justice was started?

Ashley: Planting Justice was founded in 2009. It all started as our co-founders, Gavin Raders and Haleh Zandi, reflected on years of activism and realized there was a severe need to create solutions to the societal ills of structural oppression and everyday inequalities. 

How are you working with Apeel to further Planting Justice’s goals?

Crystal: Apeel is working on The Good Table Project with Planting Justice. Located in El Sobrante, CA, this facility will serve the local community in a variety of ways.

It will serve as a disaster emergency site for the community through food distribution and storage that will utilize solar power to run the almost fully electric kitchen. The commercial kitchen will serve as an operating space for small food businesses to have the supportive infrastructure to launch and have legal cooking and selling space. There will also be a sliding scale cafe. The facility will also serve as a community gathering space and spiritual center for health and wellness education and arts and music programming. A retail nursery and farm store will also be incorporated into the facility. 

The funds provided by Apeel have assisted with putting staff onsite for the first time: two members of the farm team go out two days a week to prepare the property for when the permit work can begin. The goal is to open for plant retail possibly by the end of this year and opening the interior space in 2022. 

Do you have any recommended resources to share with anyone looking to learn more about Planting Justice? 

Ashley: Yes! Visit to learn more about our organization and how to get involved. Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter @plantingjustice or on Instagram @planting.justice.