Monthly Permaculture Talks and Tour in Fairfield

By: Susan Hiland (Daily Republic)

[Daily Republic Full Article]

Larry Lamoreux came out Saturday to see the sustainable garden at the former Mission Solano shelter. He is a member of the Sustainable Solano board and practices those principles at home in his backyard. “I just came out to keep an eye on what’s going on,” Lamoreux said. “It is such an encouraging project.”

Sustainable Solano offers practical ways of applying permaculture principles in your garden and community through its monthly “Walk the Talk” series, which takes place the last Saturday of the month at the shelter at 310 Beck Ave. Topics vary from sustainable landscaping to wise water use, soil building and other aspects of permaculture. These talks are free and open to the community, but registration is required.

Lamoreux said he is excited about the idea of swales, which take rainwater from the roof and run it to a ditch in the yard. The ditch is covered with mulch. “The mulch slowly allows for the water to be taken up by the plants,” he said. “This makes so much more sense than trying to use rain barrels because of the Mediterranean climate we live in.”

Swales save thousands of gallons of water from being wasted and puts it all into use, he said. Sustainable landscaper Jeffrey Barton talked Saturday about permaculture on a community scale and the impact of its principles on people, health and habitat.

The presentation illustrated how massive amounts of free food are being grown by community members on both private and public land, nourishing the surrounding community and serving as an educational lab for people interested in creating resiliency and living more sustainably.

The small gathering Saturday heard about food forest gardens, which can be fed by secondary water (a laundry-to-landscape greywater system or diverted roof water).

“We can create community spaces with food forests,” Barton said.

The former Mission Solano put in a food forest garden in December with a 1,300-square-foot space filled with fruiting trees and edible plants, something Barton helped see to fruition.

“Our culture treats rainwater like it is a nuisance in our society,” Barton said. But rainwater is a free source that can be captured and with a little bit of work made to work for the community in a food garden. “The work they are doing for a sustainable garden makes me hopeful,” Lamoreux said. “With the way we are treating the Earth . . . this is hope for our future.”

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The Shalom demonstration food forest installation wrapped up Saturday.  This was phase one of a larger goal to create a community garden in Vacaville.  The past few weeks have been incredible community events, but the devastation of the fires and shootings weigh heavy on my heart.  In spite of the smoke, people showed up and as a team we installed the Shalom garden.  In spite of the fear of violence, Pastor Sue and husband Jim opened their home and served lovely meals.  The fair share ethic in permaculture was embodied on these Saturdays:

Kathleen brought pineapple guavas.

Ron, Sue and Neely shared their bounty of pomegranates.

Kevin and Jessica brought tools and strength.

Kristina from Lemuria donated two flats of vegetables.

Divina brought her infectious joy.

There are too many generous acts of kindness to list.

With facemasks on, members of our Solano community came together to build a garden and somehow exist between the speechless beauty and bottomless grief.

Even though I felt deep gratitude, for the kindness of the community, I awoke on the Sunday after the final installation feeling weepy and moving around my home directionless.  Then I remembered that I came home from the installation with pomegranates!  I got lost researching pomegranates and the best way to separate the seeds for juicing.  As I separated the arils, I had a few bowls next to me. The worms got the membrane; the chickens received some of the arils that I was too lazy to separate.  I pressed a beautiful burgundy apple pomegranate juice for my family and saved the peels of the pomegranate in the freezer to make a tea.  While I got lost in the task I listened to the Mr. Rogers documentary, “Won’t you be my Neighbor?”  The tears began to flow as he relayed his mother’s advice that when something is happening that is scary to always look for the people that are helping.  I just spent three Saturdays surrounded by the people that are helping.


By Lyta Hamm, Solano County Herbalist and Wellness Educator

With the days growing colder; the winter and cold and flu season is upon us. Practicing good self-care and incorporating herbs and spices in our diet can help keep our health and immunity strong; increasing our odds of staying well and not getting as sick when we do catch something.


  • Sleep 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is an underutilized health elixir with many benefits for your health, immunity and mood.
  • Practice stress reduction in the way that best works for you, whether it is a walk in nature, laughing with friends or yoga and meditation.
  • Get some physical movement in each day, you don’t have to go to a gym; every minute of any physical movement and stretching counts!
  • Hydrate! You might not be as thirsty in the winter months, but you still need water for optimum health.
  • Eat well and eat more fruits and vegetables which are packed full of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that keep healthy and ward off disease.
  • Add more herbs and spices to your diet!


Many commonly used culinary spices and herbs have immunity and digestive enhancing properties as well as making our food taste better. Traditionally, most cultures incorporate many spices and herbs in their daily diet to maintain health and prevent illness. Basic food seasonings such as garlic, ginger, hot chilies, horseradish, rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, sage, turmeric and cinnamon are all useful, especially in the winter season, to promote our vitality.


Attend the “Spice up Your Life and Fire Cider Demo” workshop this month and learn how to use more of the herbs and spices that are widely available and in your cupboard. Learn how to make infused vinegars and watch a demonstration of how to make Fire Cider!

  • WHAT: “Spice up Your Life” workshop on using spices and herbs to stay healthy and Fire Cider demo
  • WHO: Presented by Lyta Hamm, Herbalist and Wellness Educator
  • WHERE: Tune Up Massage Works, located at 1212 Georgia St. Vallejo, CA 94590
  • WHEN: Saturday, December 15, 2018 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
  • COST: $40 includes a bottle of Fire Cider vinegar to take home

If you can’t make it to the workshop, and still want to make a batch of Fire Cider vinegar, learn from the original creator of Fire Cider, herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, in this video:

Cultivate Community Food Co-op’s Farm to Table Food Pilot

Between August 13th and September 18th, Cultivate Community Food Coop (CCFC) ran a Farm to Table food pilot to deliver locally grown produce and locally prepared cooked meals to our CCFC owners’ homes in the Benicia/Vallejo area.  The effort was a partnership between Cultivate Community Food Co-op, Solano County Health and Social Services, and Sustainable Solano.

The pilot gave us a chance to work with local farmers and chefs to explore the costs and work involved in providing our owners with Solano grown food.  Eatwell Farms in Dixon and Lockewood Acres in Vacaville provided the organic produce that was offered for sale and Hot Dish, a local catering company, used some of that produce to prepare complete dinners for our owners.   Tomatoes, eggs, summer squash, and peppers were some of the most popular items offered for sale.  The dinners featured both meat and vegetarian options each week and were delicious!

Our owners used our online store ( to purchase whatever items they wanted to buy.  Once every week, their orders were filled and delivered to their homes free of charge.  Low income owners were provided rebates for their meal orders, courtesy of Solano County Health and Social Services.

A total of 16 owner households participated in the pilot.  Once the pilot was complete, sentiment surveys were sent to all households seeking their views on what aspects of the effort they enjoyed and any ideas they may have for similar services to be provided for our owners in the future. Those surveys are currently being tabulated and the results will be shared with all our owners via our newsletter.

Judging from the surveys returned so far, our owners enjoyed their first chance to purchase food from their Co-op.  The challenge now is to use the data we collected to devise a sustainable, affordable, and convenient option for our owners to continue to enjoy the healthy, environmentally friendly, and fresh foods grown and prepared by our local farms and chefs.  Please provide your input and let us know what you would like to see your Co-op focus on as we continue our work with our neighboring farmers, restaurants, and other food service providers to improve the way we eat and strengthen our local economy.

China’s New Recycling Policy Impacts Waste Management Systems Across U.S.

A worker sorts plastic bottles at a recycling center in China.

Last year, the Chinese government tightened its restrictions on recyclable trash exported by the U.S. China has historically imported 45% of the world’s plastic and paper waste since 1992 with contamination rates as high as 5% per bale. Now, China only accepts bales containing less than 1% of those impurities. It is a big change that will be challenging to meet.

“The Chinese waste import restrictions have disrupted recycling programs throughout the United States, and affected tens of millions of tons of scrap and recyclables since they were imposed in 2017,” said David Biderman, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America. “They are the most important change to these programs in at least a decade.”

These new restrictions have drastically impacted our cities’ recycling programs. To process and sort the materials, many recycling centers across the country have had to increase prices to meet China’s lower contamination rate for acceptable material leading to consumers taking a financial hit. Items that do not meet quality standards for recycling bales must be shipped to other locations, such as in Vietnam. That means higher transportation costs, which ultimately affect residents and businesses.

Recycling programs are taking further efforts to reduce impurities in our recycling bales by raising awareness on the issue. Educating consumers on how to properly sort wet food material like banana peels, coffee grounds, and food-soiled paper to keep recycled paper dry and clean will be critical for complying with China’s new quality requirements.


  • The best thing you can do is properly sort your materials, making sure that wet, non-recyclable items are composted or tossed in the garbage.
  • Give your recyclables a quick rinse, take your plastic bags back to stores or reuse them, and compost your food scraps (backyard composting is an option if this service is unavailable in your community).
  • See your cities recycling guidelines and sorting guides for a list of what goes where (confusingly, accepted items vary by city due to different processing capabilities).

To learn more, click below: