This summer, a group from Transition Albany and Bay Food Shed worked with City Arborist, Tony Wolcott, to bring the Memorial Park High School Garden back to life. They weeded, cleaned up trash, built new raised beds, filled them with soil and planted beans, cooking greens, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, blackberries, native thimbleberry and ground cherries, then mulched everything. Around the shadier areas they planted native ferns, ginger and beneficial ornamentals that enrich the soil and attract useful insects.
The city provided locally milled cedar planks for the beds, the soil, and the mulch. The gardeners provided labor and plants from our own starts, plants traded and donated, and a few purchases. Three days a week, they take it in turns to water, clean up accumulated trash and weed the intrepid bermuda grass.
So far, produce has gone to the Albany Senior Center and to Bay Food Shed’s Garden to Table initiative in which local restaurants Cafeina, Tay Tah/Bua Luang, and Elevation 66 receive locally grown produce to add to their menu. As the school year gets underway, we anticipate that several teachers and their students will take on significant aspects of garden care, cultivation and harvesting. However, the gardeners stand ready to support them in whatever ways will most ensure their success.
Tony Wolcott is so pleased with the efforts of the group that he offered an additional, sunnier plot in Memorial Park for community cultivation. The small current team is not able to take on this additional plot themselves, but if there were 3 -4 additional volunteers who could participate in an initiatial intensive two or three work sessions, and then participate on a bi-weekly basis for ongoing care, we could turn another corner of Albany into verdant food production.
Another upcoming project will be to work with Tony on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department to develop the area east of the retrofitted BART tracks on the Ohlone Greenway as an Albany Public Fruit and Nut Orchard and/or gardens.
To join either or both of these projects, contact Alexa Hauser at alexahhh [at] sonic.net.
This is is the way of the future. There is a group of residents in Todmorden, a market town in northern England, that started converting bare land to food production and now has the entire town council on board donating every available spot! The link has a video they made.
“Edible City … tells the stories of extraordinary people who are digging their hands into the dirt, working to transform their communities and doing something truly revolutionary: growing local Good Food Systems that are socially just, environmentally sound, and economically resilient.”
The film covers initiatives all over the Bay Area, including the controversial occupation of the Gill Tract on Earth Day 2012, and was directed and produced by locals Andrew Hasse and Carl Grether. We plan to have a speaker to lead discussion afterwards. You can also watch the entire documentary online here.
Finally, check out our neighbor initiative, Self Sustaining Communities, which, under the leadership of Linda Schneider, has established or helped establish at least three small urban farms in Richmond including a farm close to Albany in the Richmond Annex that sports not only chickens, rabbits, beehives, food production and rainwater harvesting, but also recently installed an entire aquaponics setup.
I’d love to see rooftop gardening taking hold, lawn-to garden initiatives, shared gardening… In fact to can register your desire to build a garden even if you don’t have land or offer your underused plot for someone who is willing to grow food on it at www.Y2G.org (that’s Yards to Gardens).