Volunteerism, Food Access, and Community Resilience: A Case Study of a Non-Profit Urban Farming Organization

Sara Falkoff, The College of Wooster


City Slicker Farms (CSF) is a non-profit organization located in West Oakland, CA that depends on volunteer labor to sustain a variety of programs that work to make healthy foods accessible to local community members. The purpose of this study is to examine the role CSF plays in an urban area that is disproportionately affected by a high concentration of poverty and a conspicuous absence of grocery stores. CSF volunteers and community members using CSF services completed surveys designed to examine the interplay between food access and neighborhood disparity, community resilience, volunteerism, and social identity. Findings indicate that volunteers and service recipients differed significantly in terms of their demographic characteristics, and the majority of CSF volunteers were not West Oakland residents. West Oakland community members reported many benefits associated with using CSF services as well as high overall satisfaction with CSF. Volunteers described several motivations for volunteering and several benefits and costs associated with volunteering for CSF. Overall, volunteers perceived CSF to be less effective at accomplishing organization goals compared to community members using CSF services. Importantly, significant gender and ethnic group differences were found for several survey items within each sample group. Implications of research findings and directions for future research are discussed in detail in this report.