We’ve Moved

We’ve moved, so come visit us and find out how you can get involvedĀ  www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org

We’re also on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alameda-Backyard-Growers/182802035088728
Thank you!

Alameda Backyard Growers

“Growing community, one veggie at a time”



70 Attended Dirt! The Movie

Yesterday, at the beautiful Alameda Free Library, Alameda Backyard Growers hosted a total of 70 attendees for the screening of Dirt! The Movie. Janice did an amazing job of getting the word out far and wide in the community and that paid off in the number of people who pre-registered and those who came by hoping to see the movie. Our partners at the library were so helpful and we thank you for your assistance both technically and logistically.

Thank you to the following organizations for coming to community time to meet with community members who came prior to the screening:

Alameda Food Bank, The Growing Youth Project, Slow Food Alameda, the Bay Friendly Coalition, Alameda County Master Gardeners and of course Alameda Backyard Growers. Special thanks go to Lori Caldwell of the Bay Friendly Coalition who was our expert during questions and answer time after the movie.

The audience members I spoke with really enjoyed the movie which I thought struck exactly the right tone between the harsh realities we find ourselves in and a positive vision for the future. In particular, one person I spoke with who had come all the way from San Jose (because he knew the way) said he had felt really moved when the movie shifted focus to Rikers Island to explore the positive effects on the inmates of working in the garden. Another audience member remarked with surprise at events like these taking place at the library. We hope there will be plenty more opportunities to show educational and thought provoking movies like these and we’ve got plenty of ideas too.

Meanwhile, this Thursday we’re holding our regular monthly meeting at High Street Station Coffee House in a slightly extended format because as well as winter pruning with Jocelyn from Ploughshares, Grant Marcoux our local blacksmith will be showing us how to care for garden tools. After that, our focus shifts to spring vegetable garden planning as we edge closer to a great community focus on eating and reading local. The library is introducing Farm City as the community reads book for adults and ushering in a month long series of events with Alameda Backyard Growers playing a part of course because in March we’ll celebrate our one year anniversary!

Thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm and support so far and keep on growing some, keeping some and giving some away. In addition, don’t forget to be a hummingbird – do the best you can.

Planting Bare Root Fruit Trees & Links

About 15 of us attended Marla’s great talk on planting bare root fruit trees and thanks to those of you who attended. Not only did we learn lots, but we also got to try fruit from Marla’s garden and that really helped to bring the topic alive – not to mention our taste buds. A few people came up with links, all fruit and tree related to share, so here they are:






Thanks everyone and keep the suggestions coming. Stay tuned for December – Rain Water Catchment Systems and January “Dirt: The Movie” as well as a talk on pruning because January is prime pruning time.

Happy Gardening!

Save Your Seeds

As I look out the window at my own garden which is starting to look past its prime, I was reminded of the need to save seeds by an article I heard this morning on NPR. Here’s the link to the article so you can check it out yourself. http://www.kqed.org/quest/blog/2010/09/17/reporters-notes-backyard-seed-banks/

In addition, I performed a quick search to see how to store seeds and found this link http://www.howtosaveseeds.com/store.php

If any of you within the group have some very practical tips to share with the rest, then please feel free to comment on this post. As very much a beginning gardener, I am always looking for practical tips because the extent of what needs to be done in the garden feels very daunting to us newcomers.

Finally, I watched a very insightful documentary on the need the many aspects of seeds including the fact that for many farmers saving seeds is in fact illegal. The documentary is called “The Future of Food”.

Happy Seed Saving!

Empowering Communities Through Good Deeds

Janice and I went to the Craigslist Foundation bootcamp at UC Berkeley this past weekend where the theme was “empowering communities”. There were so many interesting and inspirational speakers talking about how to build or strengthen communities. When we started Alameda Backyard Growers, earlier this year, the idea was to build community, one veggie at a time. It’s been great to see how we are laying the foundations for a stronger community with your help because we are all in this together.

All this talk of community makes me curious about our community so I’d like to pose the following questions to you to start you thinking.

What is the one thing you could do this week to further strengthen community in your street?

Is there someone you have been meaning to contact or to go and see in the community?

Tell us about your good deeds so that the rest of the community sees and gets ideas from that.

ABG Visits the Alameda Food Bank

The Alameda Food Bank was founded in 1977 by concerned residents of Alameda and remains today a private organization. 50% of their funding comes from the residents of Alameda and the other 50% from various grant sources. Last year, our Food Bank served 5,000 individuals representing 1 in 14 Alamedans. The dedicated staff of two Paul Russell the Executive Director and Samantha Kahn the Program Coordinator manage over 65 volunteers to ensure that food is available to those in need.

Sam told us that the Alameda Food Bank is blessed by hugely generous donations from Trader Joe’s and Safeway and our local famer’s markets in Alameda provides much needed fresh produce. In that sense our Food Bank is able to provide a large variety of fresh produce and canned goods and their waste rates are minimal. If the Food Bank cannot use the food it is gladly received by Bay Worms http://www.bayworms.org/ whose mission is to:

  1. Divert food and organic waste from our landfills.
  2. Educate and benefit the public by promoting and implementing vermiculture practices.
  3. Create high quality soil amendments or fertilizer in the form of worm castings as an alternative to commercially produced synthetic products.

The Alameda Food Bank is so grateful for food and/or cash donations because they can make great use of both. Once our harvests start, our produce donations from the network of growers in the Alameda Backyard Growers group will help provide much needed fresh ingredients for nutritious meals. By donating money, the Food Bank makes your dollar stretch really far. Another alternative is to donate time and their are some great volunteer opportunities. For up to date opportunities, visit http://www.alamedafoodbank.org/volunteer.html

Thanks to those who attended and asked great questions. I am sure I’m speaking for everyone when I say that we’re grateful to the Alameda Food Bank for the work they do. Janice and I would also like to thank you growers in advance for the contribution you’re going to make with donation of the excess produce from your own micro farm.

Keep on Growing and don’t forget it’s not too late to sign up for the parade! Drop us a mail at alamedabackyardgrowers@gmail.com

The Soul of Gardening

A really good friend of mine brought me an article that was actually about money, slow money to be more precise. What on earth does this have to do with gardening? Well, as I’ve discovered, it has everything to do with gardening. The author interviewed Woody Tasch and one of the comments he made I felt I had to share with the group. He was talking about the large agricultural food system that we support and how top soil was eroding which will affect our ability to feed our growing population (very pertinent observation considering the topic of our next gardening meeting on June 10th at High Street Station with Master Gardener Birgitt Evans).

Tasch is urging us to support CSA groups for example and bring the focus back to small scale agriculture. When asked what would be the one thing he would tell people to do it was this :”Grow some vegetables, even if it’s just herbs or lettuce or garlic. It’s hard for a thinking, feeling person to be involved in that process and not be amazed by it.”

I agree 100%. Every morning, I go to visit our raised beds in the garden and on Pam Pierce’s advice from her book “Golden Gate Gardening” have a cup of tea and watch the small changes that have taken place. I thought my tomato plants were not going to produce and just the other day, I looked closer and past the plentiful flowers, I saw some tiny green tomatoes. It’s amazing to be part of the process of growing something. In fact, that makes me think of another point Woody Tausch makes “if we don’t produce anything for ourselves, then all we have is purchasing power. Our money is our only protection against deprivation.” Right here in our backyards, we are producing something and even better producing for others who may not have access to land to grow their own produce.

Grow on gardeners!