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Essential Food & Medicine 2024: Growth

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Essential Food and Medicine (EFAM) distributes food surplus and natural medicines to unhoused, formerly incarcerated, and indigenous communities to regenerate people and land.

EFAM is a project of Esphera, which creates liberation through restoring ecosystems, regenerating communities, storytelling and remembering our divinity.

We distribute food surplus and natural medicines to unhoused, formerly incarcerated, and indigenous communities to regenerate people and land.

First and foremost we want to thank everyone who has been a part of our work. From the very first juice that we made out of our home kitchen 3 1/2 yrs ago, to the thousands of pounds of produce we transformed and diverted from landfills and waste streams, to holistic health classes for Oakland’s front line communities, to putting our bodies on the line to defend the houseless from eviction, to each drop of herbal Medicine that made it into the bodies of those that needed it most… we thank each hand, prayer, and action taken together for our collective liberation.

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EFAM was born 3 yrs ago April 2020 at the beginning of the Pandemic. The health & well being of some of the most vulnerable members of our local and global community was at the crux point of the crises. We know that solutions to the systemic root causes of illness require a holistic approach that includes mind, body, spirit, and the earth itself.

Community is medicine. As mutual aid networks strengthened, EFAM volunteers produced healthy juices, smoothies, and natural medicines for our unhoused and formerly incarcerated community in West Oakland, redirecting fresh produce, herbs, and meals from our local gardens, farms, and food businesses that were destined for waste streams.

Our medicine making operation, The Herbal Resilience Collective, created an Herbal CSA from locally grown and wild harvested herbs.

Our work has spawned different projects such as Foodz, a mutual aid food network in Oakland, and Cob on Wood.

Cob on Wood, was an eco-village of community support structures built for our Wood Street houseless relatives. It was located at what was possibly the largest encampment of houseless people on the west coast. At its height, COW boasted a community kitchen, hot shower, compost toilet, pop up clinic, free store, earthen oven, fire pit, stage and community garden. EFAM worked hand in hand with unhoused residents, countless volunteers, & Sister organizations like Artists Building Communities and Living Earth Structures among others to shape and caretake what was a vital community resource until it was demolished by Caltrans earlier this year.

The process of eviction from wood street was long and the state violence was extreme. Through all of it, EFAM worked to bring an element of the sacred into the process and elevate the voices and leadership of residents. This included supporting a resident led bike ride to Sacramento to lobby lawmakers and build power with other unhoused communities across the state.

Another achievement was our 11 week Nutrition & Healing Arts Class for our unhoused relatives. We explored culinary arts, traditional ancestral healing practices, had a rockstar team of guest presenters and supported participants on their personal healing journeys.

Our work is creative. Not only did we collaborate with Primordia and Kin DAO to create NFT’s and digital wallets for unhoused folks and relatives at the Rosebud reservation, we also hosted educational screenings such as Dope is Death and offered NADA ear acupuncture to assist with trauma, detox and addiction.

Though West Oakland is our base, our work has expanded to Lakota Country on the Rosebud Reservation and the Yawanawa territories of Amazon Jungle in Acre, Brazil.

At Rosebud in South Dakota we curated an EarthDay gathering called Uncila Makoce. At this Food Sovereignty summit tribal leaders were able to share traditional recipes, language, and discuss challenges the community faces to their health and wellbeing. We explored solutions that dreamt beyond the effects of colonization, healed, and built community.

As we enter our third year we invite you to collaborate with us. There are plenty of ways to get involved and contribute your own unique medicine.

We gratefully were accepted to the Embrace Incubator program. This will help us boost our organizational capacity and strengthen our infrastructure. Big thanks to all who have supported our work this year including Stop Waste, Good Eggs, One Small Planet and you.

We are actively looking for grantwriters, social media team, graphic designers, admin assistance, distro drivers, and volunteers willing to make juice for the people!

Build with us. Donate today




  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 18 d
  • Debra Greenberg
    • $100 
    • 23 d
  • Debra Harrow
    • $100 
    • 23 d
  • Theodosia Ferguson
    • $50 
    • 25 d
  • Ellis Newton
    • $10 
    • 27 d


Essential Food and Medicine
Oakland, CA

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