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 SELC’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 SELC’s e-resource websites,, which is a library of plain-English legal information related to urban agriculture. In 2014, Neil led SELC’s 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 SELC, 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 industry. 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 SELC

Program Areas


  • Circle Coordinator
  • Community Cultivator


  • Save Seed Sharing Campaign
  • Neighborhood Food Act

Operations Areas

  • Legal Compliance Manager
  • Operation RED Coordinator
  • Conflict Engagement Team
  • SELCocracy Steward




Personal Interests

  • Sleeping outdoors

  • Being around animals

  • Playing basketball

  • Learning how to surf

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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