Crops and Gardens
Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour
The Partnership is a proud supporter of this exciting local education program, helping with publicity and administering some of the funding. The annual event includes a free self-guided tour of showcase native plant gardens and nurseries in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, along with a Native Plant Scale Extravaganza!
Ninth Annual Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: Registration for the Ninth Annual Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, which will take place on Sunday, May 5, 2013 from 10:00 to 5:00, is now open. This free, award-winning tour features forty Alameda and Contra Costa county gardens that are pesticide-free, conserve water, provide habitat for wildlife, and contain 60% or more native plants. This self-drive tour showcases a variety of gardens, from large parcels in the hills to small lots in the flats. Native plant sales and talks are offered at select gardens. Space is limited and registration is required. This tour will fill; register early to ensure a place. Volunteers are needed. Please register or volunteer at http://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/
Companion events: The Native Plant Sale Extravaganza will take place throughout the weekend of May 4 and May 5. Select Tours, small group, guided tours and workshops, will take place throughout April and May. See the website for details.
View photos from past work days by visiting our online photo gallery, click on Streamside Hedgerow Planting Work Days!
In 2006 the RCD began serving on the Advisory Committee for the Sunol AgPark, a project of the local organization, Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE). We provided information about natural resources conservation practices and stewardship/education for the new, 18-acre Sunol AgPark farm situated on prime (Class I) farmland leased from the San Francisco PUC (SFPUC). The AgPark was developed as new "model" farm that provides land, infrastructure (such as fencing, and an irrigation system), an on-site farm manager, farmer training and land preparation services to beginning and limited-resource farmers. Each farm group sub-leases a 1 to 4 acre "ready-to-farm" plot from SAGE. The farm is located in the scenic hamlet of Sunol in central Alameda County, about 15 miles inland from the urban centers of the East Bay.
Three farm groups raise row crops at the farm for sale at East Bay farmers markets; they include Mien farmers raising Laotian vegetables for their own community as part of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, an inner-city youth program that is part of Peoples' Grocery in Oakland, and a specialty organic lettuce and heirloom tomato grower/breeder, Baia Nicchia. A small Sunol enterprise, Swarm Catcher, has bee boxes and chickens at the farm. The RCD participates in periodic Harvest Festivals and other events that introduce the local community to the farmers and their unique crops.
The RCD assisted SAGE with its NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) application for conservation practices which include seeding a winter cover crop, installing a filter strip/insectary hedgerow along the farm edge that parallels the Arroyo de la Laguna, and irrigation and farm road improvements. SFPUC is providing funding as match for the EQIP projects.
In fall 2007, under contract to SAGE, the RCD developed a plan for the creek setback for the farm, which included a filter strip and grass buffer. The final report and the associated appendix is available for download. The District also assisted in the development of the Natural Resources Element of the AgPark Management Plan.
Check out the stewardship projects taking place at the farm as part of the District's Hands-On-Conservation Program.
The RCD will be continuing to provide conservation and education assistance to the farm in 2007-08 through the advisory committee and contracted work with SAGE. The RCD also participates in periodic Harvest Festivals and other events that introduce the local community to the farmers and their unique crops.
More information on the Sunol AgPark can be found at SAGE's website.