ISSUE 12  |  Spring Forward

Shopper’s Diary: Pollinate in Oakland, CA

March 28, 2014 4:00 PM

BY Cynthia Salaysay

Pollinate Farm & Garden, in the sun-drunk Fruitvale district of Oakland, is a practical place, a farm store for the urban dweller.

For city gardeners, the place is a godsend. At Pollinate you can get anything from bee smokers to fruit pickers–everything you need to set up your own personal farmlet. The co-owners, with 50 years of gardening and animal experience between them, can walk you through the technical intricacies of homesteading. But the thing that cheers one the most about Pollinate is the chicks for sale.

Photographs by Liesa Johannssen for Gardenista.

Above: A  Golden Sex Link (L) and a Rhode Island Red (R). Most farm and garden stores don’t sell chicks–a distinguishing characteristic of Pollinate. A smattering of high-pitched peeps is the first thing you hear when you open the door. Rare breeds and prolific egg layers can both be found here.

Above: Pollinate keeps chickens in its nursery and demonstration garden too. Here, a spangled Russian orloff gets a bird’s-eye view in the orchard, where Pollinate grows cherries, apricots, peaches, lemons, and avocados.

Above: A low wall, made of wire mesh, reclaimed wood, and fresh garden trimmings helps keep the chickens out of the store and doubles as a passive composter. As time goes on, the trimmings wilt and compact, making room for new additions.

Above: The fertilizer bar allows customers to create their own blend of premium-grade fertilizer in small amounts suitable for city-scale farms and gardens.

Above: Co-owner and master gardener Birgitt Evans propagates vegetable starts in the nursery.

Above: Birgitt handpicks functional, premium-quality tools, including Felco grafting knives, Japanese hori-horis, and copper garden markers. Bounty, after it’s grown and harvested, needs to be stored for long keeping. The store stocks everything you need to ferment your own kraut, culture your own yogurt, and can your own tomatoes.

Above: Trustworthy beekeeping supplies and its spoils: bee hats, bee frames, smokers, gloves, and hyper-local honey.

Above: The Pollinate storefront in Oakland.

Above: Pollinate Farm & Garden is located at 2727 Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland, California 94601. For more information, head to the website:

For more from Oakland see Shopper’s Diary: The FloraCultural Society in SF’s Easy Bay.

In a farmy state of mind? See Farm-to-Table Textiles from Voices of Industry on Remodelista.