Member Bios

We are a collective that formed in 2010 to find land and shape our collective homes and futures together. We pooled our funds and energies and a year later we were able to act with the support of many others when we found the ideal property. It took another year to actually purchase that land, but these 10 acres in El Sobrante exceeded our expectations from the beginning, and will be the long-term home of our community for generations to come.

The members of our group have been living and working together in communitiy in various iterations for more than 10 years. We've been empowered by the support of many around us and have seen first-hand the benefits of collective structuring. Combined we have deep experience in non-profit development & administration, collective decision making, community living, sustainable cultivation, and natural building.

Andrew Chahrour

Andrew grew up in Ohio, received an Environmental Studies degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and has worked within several sectors of the food & water world.  Working with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming he documented the recession of Aspen stands, researched grazing techniques and the impacts of different livestock management practices, and was introduced to old standard top-down approach towards improving management practices.  Afterwards, uninspired by top-down change, Andrew moved to Boston where he co-founded a wiki-based website devoted to ethical consumerism by providing product life-cycle information to everyday consumers. Having learned a lot from this first entrepreneurial experience, Andrew moved to the Bay Area in 2007 following his passion for food and the environment and found meaningful work with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA).  Working with MESA for 3 years, Andrew expanded the farmer training program's outreach by developing a new website, better tech systems, and by visiting with potential organic host farms across the country.  In early 2010, seeking more hands-on work with local communities, Andrew left MESA to help start another non-profit, Planting Justice.  Since then, Andrew has worked with Planting Justice as a Permaculture Designer, Director of the Landscaping Program, and in May of 2015 Andrew began his current position with Planting Justice as the Farm Manager of the organization's 5-acre food forest in El Sobrante. Also in 2010, Andrew became a member-owner of Clean Water Components - an online-retail shop that specializes in providing information and supplying components to folks who are installing greywater and rainwater systems.

Gavin Raders

Gavin Raders a co-founder and co-director of Planting Justice, a father to two daughters, a social justice activist, and a permaculture demonstrator/teacher. For the past 17 years, he has dedicated his life to peoples' movements for peace and social/economic/racial/environmental justice. Prior to Planting Justice, he studied the history, failures, and successes of social movements as a cultural anthropology student at UC Berkeley, and organized on a range of anti-war, anti-nuclear, environmental and human rights issues both on campus and off. He has knocked on nearly 30,000 doors in California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada as a community organizer with Peace Action West, and those experiences of speaking with thousands of people and walking city streets, knocking on doors, and taking in how land wasn't being used to meet community needs, sowed the seeds of Planting Justice. Rather than fighting against the things that we don't want and continuously reacting against the onslaught of oppressive systems, Gavin decided at a young age to build solutions that bring healing, health, peace, opportunity, and justice to those around him, using his privileges strategically for reparations and redistribution, and creating space for those most impacted by structural violence to live out their own dreams and enact the solutions they know to be necessary, while simultaneously supporting themselves and their families.

 

Haleh Zandi

Haleh Zandi is a co-founder and co-director at Planting Justice. Her approach towards the food justice movement particularly draws connections between the United States dependence upon fossil fuels within the industrialized and globalized food system and the unjust United States militarization of the Middle East and South Asia. She believes the modern colonial food system is in a paradigm of war, and she is dedicated to the ways in which diverse communities may build alliances and practice strategies that collectively resist the violence of the industrial food system and structurally shift the United States towards more ecologically sustainable and socially just ways for living on stolen land. Haleh was born and raised in California, and she received her BA at UC Santa Cruz and an MA at CIIS in San Francisco. She is of Persian and Norwegian heritage, and she is the proud mama of two little kids. Prior to founding Planting Justice, she worked for Peace Action West and was an intern at the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland.

Leah Atwood

Leah Atwood works at MESA since 2004 and is one of the Collaborative Directors. Her Humboldt farmland roots instilled a love for food and farming practices that nourish people and the planet. Leah moved to the Bay Area in 1999 to pursue degrees in Environmental Policy and Spanish at UC Berkeley. She has lived in South and Central America as well as Southeast Asia working on behalf of social, environmental and food justice initiatives. As a result of her travel and work experiences she gained insight into myriad traditional agricultural practices, implications of a globalized corporate food regime and the value of farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange, agroecology and unconventional multi-interestholder collaboration. Her past work experience includes program development for the International Institute for Bengal Basin which focused on pollution mitigation for farmers and rural communities in Bangladesh, fund development for the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and supply chain review for Scientific Certifications Systems. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Planting Justice. Climbing rocks, yoga, milking goats and befriending bees are frequent sources of fascination.

Ron Perrone

 

Ron Perrone was born in Vallejo, CA in 1947. For 35 years he worked as grocery clerk at Albertsons where he spearheaded a 2-month workers strike that was part of a larger struggle for the unionization of grocery workers throughout California that ultimately led to better employee health care, insurance benefits, and civil rights protections. Ron’s skills include property management, home repair and landscaping. Passions include camping, hiking, reading, and promoting climate justice, civil rights, gender equality, and sustainable food systems.