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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.