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Gardeners Group Gathers Tonight

Alameda Backyard Growers will have its monthly meeting tonight from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 11, focusing on community gardening. The venue is
High Street Station, 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.

The City of Alameda recently held two community workshops to plan for the future of the city’s parks and green spaces, and the workshops gave residents an opportunity to offer input and ideas on community gardens and urban agriculture in Alameda, according to the group.

Currently, there are two community gardens in Alameda: the Bay-Eagle Community Garden, which has a multi-year waiting list, and the Alameda Point Collaborative Community Garden Co-Op, which is primarily for APC residents.

Speakers at tonight’s meeting include Gladys Schwalm and Birgitt Evans, who met at the very first ABG meeting in March 2010 and worked out a co-gardening arrangement that is still going strong.

Pamela Cowart, co-chair of Christ Church’s Outreach Commission, will discuss the Christ Church garden at Ploughshares Nursery at Alameda Point. The church’s garden provides produce for the 100-plus individuals who attend their food pantry at 9 a.m. every Tuesday.

Also, Ang Hadwin with Public Health Law & Policy’s Planning for Healthy Places Program will give an update on Alameda’s Urban Farm & Garden Plan as part of the larger Urban Greening Plan initiative.

Those coming to the meeting on Thursday are encouraged to bring garden produce for the Alameda Food Bank.

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Alameda Wraps Up March Reading Program; Gardening Events Continue

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Author Novella Carpenter, who wrote the book “Farm City” and sparked the theme for Alameda Free Library’s 2011 Community Reads Program, spoke last night, Thursday, March 31st, at 7 p.m at the Main Library on Oak Street.

About 50 residents and visitors attended her talk.

Carpenter’s memoir details her experiences turning a vacant lot in Oakland into a thriving farm with fruits, vegetables, farm animals, and bees. The book shares stories, tips, and a great deal of heart and humor.

In March as part of the community-reading program and theme, the library opened a seed-sharing library and garden tool-lending library, which are now available to residents.

For residents looking to learn more about urban gardening, Alameda Backyard Growers will host a talk on “What You Need to Know about Lead in Your Soil” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, at High Street Station Café, 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.

The speaker is Steve Calanog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Alameda Growing Group Hosts Mini-Workshop

Tonight, Thursday, January 13, from 6– 7:30 p.m., Alameda Backyard Growers is hosting its monthly meting and workshop on pruning and garden-tool maintenance.

The venue is High Street Station coffeehouse, 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.

Jocelyn Bentley-Prestwich, general manager of Ploughshares Nursery, will explain how to safely and effectively prune fruit trees. Afterwards, local blacksmith Grant Marcoux will offer tips on keeping your garden tools clean, sharp and ready for use.

The groups recently held a successful showing of the film “Dirt!” “We counted 70 participants and signed up 17 new ABG members,” group organizers said.

Also, five local gardening/sustainability groups shared information and answered questions about their work:
Alameda County Master Gardeners, Alameda Food Bank, Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Coalition, , Growing Youth Project and Slow Food Alameda.

Alameda Backyard Growers would like to thank all who participated and made the day such a success and welcome to our new members!

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Alameda Backyard Growers Share Green Thumbs

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Alameda Backyard Growers hosted a successful Global Work Party on Sunday — it was one of 7,347 events held in 188 countries around the globe, thanks to the work of 350.org and volunteers worldwide.

Organizers say that the group attracted more people than expected. “Even Doug DeHaan came to pay us a visit,” they shared.

There were more than 20 people working at Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda Point.

Volunteers turned out to support the “beat the heat,” aka stop global warming event, which — like other events worldwide — focused on creating sustainable growing areas and other projects designed to lower our carbon footprint.

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One Alameda project was the planting of a tree guild, a series of complementary trees, plants and shrubs. Volunteers also learned how to install sheet mulching and planted a black mission fig tree as the anchor point for the guild.

They also created “compost lasagna” to provide much warmth and nutrients for vegetables and other plants in the the nearby greenhouse.

Ploughshares does not have power, apart from a solar panel, so the compost pile will be very beneficial for plant life in the greenhouse, group members say.

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Event organizers add that they were pleased with what the team accomplished and hope to stage similar events in the future.

The local group is set to meet from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, October 14, at High Street Station coffeehouse, located at 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.

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Alameda Backyard Growers Get Organized

The first meeting of Alameda Backyard Growers, held last week at High Street Station coffeehouse, was quite a success.

“We counted about 30 people in attendance and received 23 completed gardening surveys,” report Amanda MacLean and Janice Edwards, organizers of the event.

According to Amanda and Janice, of those who turned out for the kick-off:

- 9 of 23 people were relatively new to gardening (less than two years experience)

- 3 of 23 had 2-10 years of experience and

- 11 of 23 had 10+ years of experience (about half the group!).

The majority of those surveyed, 18 out of 23, are interested in growing fruits and vegetables for themselves, family and friends, and they also want to learn how to garden or garden better. Many also would like to meet people in the community and grow food to share with non-profits that serve low-income Alameda residents, such as the Alameda Food Bank.

The backyard-gardening group has a website and can be reached at alamedabackyardgrowers@gmail.com.

“People are growing an amazing variety of fruits and vegetables here in Alameda, and the group generated lots of ideas for sharing gardening information and skills as well as for exchanging produce and recipes.” Amanda and Janice said.

“We are now in the process of figuring out possible events and workshops for the next couple of months.” The group sends a special thanks to guest speaker Paul Russell, executive director of the Alameda Food Bank.

Paul told the group that last year, two staff members and 50 volunteers distributed nutritious food, much of it fresh produce, to an average of 1,350 Alameda residents per month — and the need is growing.

Residents with surplus fruit on their trees or an abundance of vegetables should consider sharing some with the food bank, 1900 Thau Way.

A member of Alameda Backyard Growers, Christine Jones, will be heading the group’s donations and can be reached at rcjdwj@comcast.net.

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Alameda’s New Gardening Group (Part II)

More details are emerging on Alameda’s Backyard Growers, a new community gardening group that’s holding its kick-off event this Thursday from 6-7 p.m. at High Street Station coffeehouse.

Amanda Maclean and Janice Edwards are the organizers. And they have a blog up with more details about the green-focused organization.

“There are a lot of people and neighbors with gardens, who are interested in supporting newbies and experienced gardeners,” said Amanda.

The aim of the grassroots network, she says, is to help residents grow plants, fruits and vegetables. Once the produce is ripe, hopefully, it can be shared with others —  including those who turn to the Alameda Food Bank for help.

“We want it to be fun, so we are asking neighbors to plant produce, too. This way, we can grow food as a community, eat some, and then give some away to create an even greater community,” Amanda said.

The group already includes about 20 members. It’s in contact with the food bank’s Executive Director Paul Russell, so such plans can be realized.

Flyers about the March 11 kick-off event are up at hardware shops, gardening stores and book shops around town, so maybe this grassroots effort can blossom as planned.

“It’s really about building a growing community,” said Amanda, no pun intended.