Neil Thapar

Food and Farm Attorney


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As lead for Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Farmland Program, Neil researches alternative legal structures and land-holding arrangements that promote affordability and long-term sustainable stewardship of farmland. He also builds partnerships with other farmland-focused organizations to learn about and address legal and policy challenges facing farmland conservation projects.

It’s been said that whoever controls the seed controls the entire food system. In his roles within the Law Center's Food Program, Neil leads the Save Seed Sharing campaign to protect people’s rights to share seeds with each other through community organizing, legislative advocacy, and public education on the importance of growing and supporting locally-focused seed distribution networks. He also coordinates and develops content for one of the Law Center's e-resource websites,, which is a library of plain-English legal information related to urban agriculture. In 2014, Neil led the legislative campaign to pass the Neighborhood Food Act, expanding access to backyard food production for tenants and homeowners in planned developments.

Aside from his roles at the Law Center, Neil is a member of the Oakland Food Policy Council and serves on its Executive Committee, where he focuses on local advocacy to promote a more just and equitable local food system through economic empowerment in the food economy. He also serves as a Farm Advisor Captain for Kitchen Table Advisors, a nonprofit organization that provides business consulting services to small-scale, sustainable farms in the Bay Area. In 2013, Neil researched and authored several case studies on social justice in agriculture for inclusion in the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems’ farm apprenticeship curriculum. He also holds a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture for completing the same apprenticeship in 2012. Neil earned a B.A. in Economics and International Area Studies from UCLA, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law.

Roles at Sustainable Economies Law Center

Program Areas


  • Circle Coordinator
  • Community Cultivator


  • Circle Coordinator
  • Save Seed Sharing Campaign Lead
  • Neighborhood Food Act

Operations Areas

  • Legal Compliance Manager




Personal Interests

  • Sleeping outdoors

  • Being around animals

  • Playing basketball

Education and Training

  • Bar Admission: California

  • J.D. - University of California, Hastings (2011)

  • B.A. - Economics/International Area Studies (Latin America), University of California, Los Angeles (2007)

  • Certificate in Ecological Horticulture, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz (2012)

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