Over the weekend I was able to visit good friends in Berkeley and they took me on a tour of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard garden at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School (click here to see their website). I was surprised by how big the garden was (a full acre!) and walked through (jealously) thinking that I wished I had that much space to garden! I will let the pictures do the talking for me and I hope to visit again in the spring or summer.
I’ve been busing trying to prepare the garden for the East Sac Edible Garden Tour while keeping an eye on my little one in the garden. I would say that I am a pretty messy gardener. My garden is a working garden, meaning that when you walk through it you see all stages of the gardening process and it isn’t all lovely flowers and pristine plants. A lot of gardening is about death, and decay as well. My garden works for me to feed my family and if you are going to have a sustainable garden it sometimes means that there are also signs of death in my garden. My beans have been dying back and the pods are drying on the plants. In this death, there is rebirth with the gift of seeds for next season. Spent tomato, squash, and corn plants make a nice messy pile in the corner of the garden to be cut into smaller pieces and composted. In this decay, new rich soil will be made for next spring’s garden. Now a working garden isn’t always perfectly manicured and picture perfect. It should be messy. And if it doesn’t show plants in all of their glory (even their dying glory) then it isn’t a garden from which I can learn or which sustains me from year to year.
However, this weekend I will have lots (hopefully hundreds of people) walking through my garden. So this adds a layer of complexity to my decisions in the garden. Normally I would leave plants in the ground to die back in their own sweet time but it doesn’t look particularly nice. Normally I would have my garden beds overflowing onto the walk ways in which passing becomes a feat in acrobatics. Normally, I have tools, bamboo poles, and trellises laying about. But none of this makes for a pleasant visit to my garden.
So the this week will be a fury of garden chores so that people can pass through my garden and not get injured.
I hope people can appreciate a working garden. Any time I go on garden tours, I first try to find the compost piles. Partly because I am really strange and partly because the compost pile (or lack thereof) tells me a lot about the type of garden this is. I want to see dynamic gardens because those are the ones full of life. A compost pile tells me that this garden is about a complete process and not just about plants that look great. Even when I went to Butchard Gardens on Vancouver Island, I was peering over the fences to see if I could find huge compost piles (I didn’t see any by the way). If you ever see me on a garden tour, I am probably in the back corners of the garden in search of a compost pile while everyone else is smelling the roses. Honestly, I’d rather be smelling compost.
Every year the Soroptimist International of Sacramento puts on a fundraising event called the East Sacramento Edible Gardens Tour where 6 gardens are featured.
And guess who’s house will be on the 2014 tour? MINE!!!
Since I moved to Sacramento I have gone on the last two tours. It is one of my favorite East Sac events because it has to do with edible gardens. There are plenty of other house tours in Sacramento but this one is dedicated to people growing food. They have a master gardener stationed at each house and musicians from Sacramento Symphonic Winds to provide lovely music as you stroll through the gardens.
Soroptimist International of Sacramento puts on this event as their fundraiser and proceeds go to support women and children in the Sacramento community. This year’s tour proceeds will go to the St. John’s Shelter Program for Real Change which helps mothers in crisis to improve their quality of life and enrich the lives of their families. The garden tour funds will directly support their Employment Readiness Program to help mothers gain and maintain employment. The second charity is Sierra Forever Families which works helps foster children connect with nurturing permanent families. The garden tour funds will directly support Camp Wonder where foster youth connect with adult mentors. So if you go on the tour you can feel good that your dollars are going to help our community.
Did I mention that MY HOUSE is going to be on the tour??
I told my husband that this is the best thing to happen to me all year! I am really very excited about it.
Hope you can make it! Here are the tour details or you can click here:
Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 10AM-4PM.
Here are some pictures I took of the tour last year:
I took a little trip out to Pescadaro over the weekend. One of my most favorite stops is the Harley Goat Farm. I have been to this farm several times now and every time it is just as charming and well worth the stop! This working dairy farm is a perfect place to visit with some goats, sample their cheese in their cheese shop and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery of Pescadaro. The farm buildings are painted with their own goat milk paint which they also sell in the store. They also are very water conscience and collect rain water in large cisterns. You can get right up to their herd of goats and they even had a 3 week old goat out for visitors to see. There is also a small herb and flower garden which they use to grow their own edible petals and herbs to add to their cheeses.
Inside the building they have a hayloft which they use for their seasonal farm dinners. The dinners are a communal five course meal prepared with ingredients from the farm or sourced locally. The loft is really a magical place and has a small deck that overlooks the farm. I would love to eat dinner here one day although it would have to be a special occasion at its price point!
Perhaps my most favorite part of the farm is the cheese shop. Enter through a vibrantly goat milk painted door and you are greeted by a row of baskets to fill with your choice of beautiful cheeses, infused oils, honey, or goat milk body products. Personally my favorite cheeses are their feta (which is on the salty side) and their apricot goat cheese round. They also sell freshly made goat cheese ravioli, farm eggs and cheesecake. If you do come to visit do bring a cooler to put your cheeses in for the ride home or bring your own baguette to eat your cheese right away on the beach (a 5 minute drive from the farm). The cheese shop doesn’t sell any crackers or bread so I always like to bring some along. You can also pick up bread at Arcangeli Grocery on the main road. I highly recommend the Garlic Herb Artichoke Bread. Yum!
If you are a cheese lover and you are looking for a little day trip, this is the place for you!
If you are in the bay area, I highly suggest going on the Common Ground’s 8th Edible Landscaping Tour. I went last year with a good gardening friend. Although the entrance fee is a bit pricey ($35!), I really enjoyed last year’s tour. There was a dizzying array of gardens and they were pretty spread out (from Los Altos to Menlo Park) so you definitely need a car for this tour. Also we were only able to visit about 5 houses out of many, many more before we were exhausted. So when you go to buy your tickets at Common Ground, I would ask which houses meet your interests and hit those first before you tucker out! All of the houses had amazing vegetable gardens, many utilizing the front yards as well as back yards, and many gardens had animals such as ducks, chickens and bees. Also if you have never been in the Common Ground store it is worth checking out!
Unfortunately I can’t make it to this year’s tour. Here is information about the tour:
Common Ground Garden Supply and Education Center, Palo Alto, CA
Saturday, July 19, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Here are some pictures from last year’s tour: