Central Solano Neighborhoods Affected by Flood or Fire Could Gain Sustainable Landscaping Features Through Community Workshops

For immediate release

Media Contact: Allison Nagel, communications manager

Interviews, photos and other materials available upon request

Residents in specific areas of Suisun City, Fairfield and Vacaville have a chance to bring sustainable landscaping to their communities through Sustainable Solano’s public workshops this year.

Sustainable Solano, a nonprofit organization that has to date installed more than 40 demonstration gardens around the county through educational community workshops, is seeking public and private sites in each of these cities to demonstrate techniques and design features that can help to address environmental challenges.

In Suisun City and Fairfield, properties that are in designated communities with high flood risk could benefit from features such as rain-capturing in-ground swales — trenches that capture and slow stormwater to prevent runoff and erosion. But there are also opportunities to build upon those features with other ecologically sound design elements that build community resilience, such as food forest gardens and community gardens that provide food and habitat using waterwise garden methods.

In Vacaville, Sustainable Solano is seeking a property that was damaged by the recent wildfires for a demonstration garden. This can provide an opportunity for educational workshops on fire-resistant landscaping as well as bioremediation – the use of plants to regenerate the damaged soil.

Sites selected in Suisun City will supported through Sustainable Solano’s growing Resilient Neighborhoods program, which seeks to build community connection and resilience through sustainable landscaping projects with funding from the PG&E Corporation Foundation. Sites selected in Fairfield and Vacaville will be supported through the Solano Sustainable Backyards program, which brings waterwise demonstration food forest gardens to public and private properties around the county with funding from the Solano County Water Agency. These programs build upon Sustainable Solano’s more than 20 years of bringing together neighbors to improve the environment, strengthen their communities and build resilience.

Homeowners can apply to have their property considered for these projects or suggest community sites, such as at schools or places of worship, by filling out an interest form here: https://sustainablesolano.typeform.com/to/Aac6Ih

See attached map for the selected neighborhoods for the Suisun City and Fairfield projects.

Learn more here:

Seeking Suisun City, Fairfield & Vacaville Residents Interested in Yard Transformation


Grant Expands Resilient Neighborhoods Program to Suisun City & Helps Address Flood Risk



About Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit sustainablesolano.org

Image of map and photos from sustainable garden installations below may be used with credit to Sustainable Solano. (Click on images for full size. Larger sizes available upon request.)

Permaculture Educators Delve Into Importance of Sleep, Water in Free Talk

December is often a month of restorative rains here in Northern California, and also can be a time for internal reflection and restoration. An important part of taking care of ourselves is getting enough sleep, and, just as the environment suffers during a drought, so we can suffer from a lack of sleep.

Permaculture educators Lydia Neilsen and Anne Freiwald will offer another free talk through Sustainable Solano online at 11 a.m. Dec. 12 — this time focusing on the parallels between sleep and water cycles. They previously gave talks on Permaculture 101 and Soil, Water & Plants. The talks are funded through the Solano County Water Agency.

Neilsen and Freiwald will be the instructors for the Permaculture Design Certificate course being offered in Benicia starting in late January. Their talks are a great way to learn about permaculture and their teaching style for those who may be interested in the course.

Restoring the Sleep Well

Previous Talks


About Lydia Neilsen and Anne Freiwald

Lydia Neilsen, a longtime partner with Sustainable Solano, is a PINA certified permaculture educator, landscape and habitat designer, specializing in water cycle restoration and passionate polyculture. Anne Freiwald is a passionate personal health and permaculture educator focusing on growing food in small spaces, working for over 25 years with individuals and communities on personal ecology and community resilience. They have an action-based perspective that highlights skills, practices and resources necessary for growth, creativity and vitality in person and place.


About the Permaculture Design Certificate Course

  • PDC begins Jan. 29 and runs through early April. It will be taught in a mix of online evening classes and hands-on weekends in Benicia, CA.

Sustainable Solano’s 2021 PDC develops a broad understanding of permaculture and design that uses whole systems thinking, which looks at how everything works together as a part of a larger whole. This can apply to the environment, our internal state of being and our organizations and social systems. In this course, participants learn a standard 72-hour permaculture curriculum toward an internationally recognized certification. Participants will also gain hands-on experience in designing and transforming a local landscape using design principles and incorporating the use of captured rainwater and greywater systems. Classes will be conducted over Zoom and in five hands-on weekends in Benicia following the latest health and safety guidelines.

Contact: Communications Manager Allison Nagel at allison@sustainablesolano.org or 805-512-0901

Bounty of the County Shifts Focus to Support Solano County Farmers Hurt by Fires

The fires that have torn through Solano County this week have damaged many of the small family farms and wineries in the county. Some farmers lost everything, including their homes, while others were spared. Some have not been able to access their property to determine the extent of the damage.

With the farming community in shock and grieving, Sustainable Solano has decided to shift the focus of the Bounty of the County celebration of Solano agriculture, chefs and wine, which was scheduled to start Aug. 25 with cooking classes, presentations and special dishes.

Instead, the Bounty of the County: Stronger Together event will start with raising funds for those farmers and growers who have lost property, crops and animals to the wildfires. 100% of all donations received through Sustainable Solano through the end of September will go to help our Solano County farmers, ranchers and wine growers. The cooking demonstrations, presentations and dining promotions will be delayed by a week, starting Sept. 1.

Donations may be sent to:

Sustainable Solano

P.O. Box 1215

Benicia, CA 94510

Checks should be made out to “Sustainable Solano”

Or through PayPal at


(while donations by check will go to the fund in their entirety, PayPal does charge fees)

Starting Sept. 1, the Bounty of the County: Stronger Together event will begin to highlight trios of Solano farmers, chefs and winemakers to build public awareness of Solano agriculture and food. Each Tuesday, the trio will be part of a live, online presentation that will offer a cooking demonstration and details on the farms, restaurants and wineries featured. Attendees who register for the free events on Eventbrite will be able to make an optional donation for the Bounty of the County Fire Relief Fund.

Those who want to help can also purchase directly from Solano farmers and the restaurants and retailers that source local farm products. Find more local food resources here.

Find more information here: http://sustainablesolano.org/bounty/

Contact: Communications Manager Allison Nagel at allison@sustainablesolano.org or 805-512-0901

Bounty of the County to Spotlight Solano County Food and Wine

This celebration of agriculture, chefs and wine will highlight a team of one Solano County farmer, a chef at a Solano County restaurant and a Solano County winery each week starting the week of Aug. 24 and continuing through September. This is the first year of Solano’s Bounty of the County, which will be held as a virtual event to ensure public health and safety due to COVID-19.

Each week will begin with an informative online live cooking demonstration, where the chef will discuss and make a featured dish, the farmer will talk about the seasonal specialty crops in that dish and the winemaker will highlight pairings. Each restaurant will offer a special meal for purchase that includes the farmer’s featured Bounty of the County products.

To date, participants include:

  • Farms: Be Love Farm, Eatwell Farm, Lockewood Acres, Tenbrink Farm, Terra Firma Farm, Wilkinson Acres
  • Restaurants/Food Producers: Backdoor Bistro (Vacaville), Michael Warring (Vallejo), The Pip Wine Bar & Shop (Dixon), Slanted Tree Kitchen & Taproom (Fairfield), Two60 Kitchen + Bar (Fairfield), Virtue Juice Bar (Vacaville)
  • Wineries: Sky Ranch, Suisun Creek Winery, Suisun Valley Wine Co-op, Tenbrink, Tolenas

More participants may be confirmed in the coming weeks.

This year’s Bounty of the County was developed in partnership by Sustainable Solano, the Solano County Fair Association and the Solano Small Business Development Center.


Dates: Weekly starting the week of Aug. 24 and going through September

Each week will highlight a local trio: a farm, restaurant and winemaker

Find the schedule and latest updates and learn more here: http://sustainablesolano.org/bounty/

Bounty of the County was originally envisioned as a large, in-person event at the Solano County Fairgrounds that would highlight local food in an environment that encouraged food and wine tasting and social interaction with farmers, chefs and winemakers. Instead, the celebration has moved online with virtual demonstrations and participating restaurants offering ways to purchase the featured dishes under the current county health guidelines. The organizations behind the event continue to plan for a public event next summer that will be aligned with public health and safety.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Sustainable Solano Communications Manager Allison Nagel at 805-512-0901 or allison@sustainablesolano.org or Sustainable Solano Local Food Program Manager Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan at stephanie@sustainablesolano.org


About Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit sustainablesolano.org

About the Solano County Fair Association

The Solano County Fair Association (SCFA) was established in 1946 to produce the annual Solano County Fair and manage the year-round operations of the Solano County Fairgrounds.  Since then, the SCFA has been providing educational, cultural, artistic, commercial and recreational programs to the residents of Solano County for more than 70 years.

For more information, visit https://www.scfair.com/

About Solano Small Business Development Center

The Solano Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a nonprofit organization that provides expert no-cost advising, low cost workshops and small business trainings to guide small businesses to success and accomplishment. The Solano SBDC serves all of Solano County and is part of the Northern California SBDC network. 

For more information, visit https://www.solanosbdc.org/




Fostering Food Security Through Collaboration

By Sustainable Solano

Food insecurity is a big challenge in Solano County, where 13.7% of residents don’t have a stable food supply, compared with 11.6% for the state, according to Solano Public Health. In recent months, Sustainable Solano has been in conversation with organizations that are taking the initiative to move food from farms and gardens onto the plates of county residents. These organizations are seeking ways to collaborate toward supplying more people with the good food they need.

Sustainable Solano strives to build community around immediate personal connection, and an emphasis on healthy local food that provides greater food security and resilience is an important part of that connection. Our current food system doesn’t support this vision, which is why we applaud the efforts of organizations that are supporting ways to give on a personal level to people in need.

In the coming months, we hope to bring you more resources to share in the community and how you can get involved.

Images courtesy of Solano Land Trust

From Fair to Food

Solano Land Trust is known for its work preserving agricultural land and open space around Solano County, but the organization has recently expanded its efforts to include a farm-to-community food connection. It started when the COVID-19 restrictions canceled the Dixon May Fair and moved the Solano County Fair from a large public event to an online virtual event this year. While the livestock auctions for the fairs were able to transition to an online bid process, Solano Land Trust officials wanted to support the kids. The organization was able to purchase a steer and two pigs this year, coordinate the difficult task of processing those animals, and deliver the meat to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County.

The food bank reports increased food insecurity as a result of COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, an estimated 43,650 people did not have access to enough nutritious food in the county. The number is expected to grow by 23,690 people this year due to the effects of the pandemic, the Solano Land Trust and food bank report.

Solano Land Trust is finding other ways to distribute food to those in need. The organization has supplied more than 1,000 tomato, squash, melon, pepper and eggplant starts donated by Morningsun Herb Farm to the food bank and other community food distribution organizations. Solano Land Trust also has been collecting restricted donations used to purchase more than 3,600 pounds of produce from local farms. So far, the organization has bought produce from Eatwell Farm, Tenbrink Farms and Fully Belly Farms. The purchased food is then donated through the food bank and distributed through the mobile food pharmacy, which focuses on getting fresh produce to people whose doctors have prescribed that they eat healthy.

Learn more and donate to the Solano Land Trust’s Farm to Community Food Connection program here.

Images courtesy of Food is Free Solano

Food. For Free

Food is Free Solano has grown in leaps from when Heather Pierini started with a small stand in her front yard to distribute extra produce (Heather is one of Sustainable Solano’s Food Forest Keepers and recently expanded her garden so she could offer more to her community members). Since starting with that one stand and seeing the need for food in her community, Heather started coordinating other permanent and pop-up stands as Food is Free Benicia. Next thing we knew, she was arranging the donation and distribution of 4,000 gallons of milk! She has since changed the name to Food is Free Solano to reflect the wider scope of her vision. Working with local nonprofit WAHEO, she has been able to arrange distribution of food boxes through the USDA’s Farmers to Families food box program. So far, Food is Free Solano has distributed over 90,000 pounds of produce and 8,000 gallons of milk. Heather’s also been involved in promoting gleaning of fruit trees through starting the Solano Gleaning Initiative, with distribution through the Food is Free Solano stands.

Learn more about Food is Free Solano and Heather’s work and donate here.

Image courtesy of Fairfield-Suisun Rotary Club
Sustainable Solano’s Avant Garden in Benicia

Gleaning Gets Going

Gleaning is gaining legs as people are looking for more sources of food that have been only sporadically utilized in Solano County. The Fairfield-Suisun Rotary Club saw the need for fresh produce among those receiving food assistance and identified gleaning as a way to serve that need. Through the new Rotary Feeds Families program, Rotary Club volunteers turn out to pick the fruit and then deliver it to the food bank or Meals on Wheels.

Learn more about the Rotary Club’s gleaning efforts here, and contact Kimber Smith if you have fruit to harvest. You can reach her at  kimbersmith2010@gmail.com or 707-333-9830.

The next step in gleaning will be creating more coordination between the organizations that are offering gleaning services around the county and community food distribution organizations. This is an area Sustainable Solano hopes to support in the future in cooperation with the Solano Land Trust, the Rotary Club and Food is Free Solano.

Toward Greater Collaboration

Our dedication to sharing food within communities stretches back to the establishment of Sustainable Solano’s very first community garden in Benicia 21 years ago. Our community gardens have “share plots” that grow food for giving, and many of the community gardeners and food forest keepers we work with also give food as their gardens grow in abundance. Already this year, Avant Garden in downtown Benicia has donated around 130 pounds of squash, zucchini and peppers to organizations like Food is Free Solano and CAC. Many of the small to medium-sized local farms we work with offer opportunities to purchase donated boxes of produce through their Community Supported Agriculture programs, creating ways to support local farms and provide food for people who need it. All of these efforts are important, and we are excited about working with other organizations to coordinate all of our efforts toward the common goal of sharing more food with neighbors in various ways.

Learn more about Sustainable Solano’s work and donate here or contact us at info@sustainablesolano.org

If you or your organization is interested in joining these efforts, please reach out to us at info@sustainablesolano.org

You can find more local food resources here on our site, and more food access support and resources on our COVID-19/Community Resilience Resources page here.

Sustainable Solano Offers Important Talk on How to Build Connection in Your Own Community

Join us live on Zoom at 4 p.m. July 2 for Reimagining the Neighborhood: A Placemaker’s Journey with Mark Lakeman of The City Repair Project!

Sustainable Solano, a countywide nonprofit, is hosting City Repair’s Mark Lakeman in a virtual conversation over Zoom about powerful but achievable community-level strategies to empower and connect neighbors — strategies that are already taking root across the country. The online talk is free and open to everyone. Part of the conversation will draw upon insight from Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods in Vallejo, which seek to bring neighbors together to create robust and regenerative urban ecosystems.

The need for strong communities where people know and care for their neighbors is more apparent than ever. There is a demand for solutions that allow neighbors to support and rely on each other. Part of that comes from working together on common goals and reclaiming the commons for the people who live there. With the United States possessing the lowest number of community gathering places of all developed nations, it’s time for communities to reimagine what public spaces can look like and work together to transform neighborhoods into vibrant, inclusive and engaging places where life can thrive.

Attendees for the Reimagining the Neighborhood talk will learn about some of Lakeman’s inspiring work with The City Repair Project, which facilitates artistic and ecologically oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. While City Repair started in Portland, the organization has supported numerous communities in coming together for change. The discussion will include a special focus on community building at the street level and ways that you and your neighbors can organize and begin transforming your block today: from intersection paintings to little free libraries and pantries, the sky’s the limit when it comes to reimagining what a neighborhood can be.

Mark Lakeman’s talk is part of the Solano Sustainable Backyards program and is made possible by the generous support of the Solano County Water Agency.

Register here to receive a Zoom link to the live talk followed by a Q&A session with Mark Lakeman: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reimagining-the-neighborhood-a-placemakers-journey-with-mark-lakeman-tickets-107614646304

 View and print the flyer here.

About Mark Lakeman and The City Repair Project

Mark Lakeman is the cofounder of the nonprofit placemaking organization The City Repair Project, and principal of the community architecture and planning firm Communitecture. Lakeman is also an urban placemaker and permaculture designer, community design facilitator, and an inspiring catalyst in his very active commitment to the emergence of sustainable cultural landscapes everywhere. Every design project he is involved with furthers the development of a beneficial vision for human and ecological communities. Whether this involves urban design and placemaking, ecological building, encourages community interaction, or assists those who typically do not have access to design services, Lakeman’s leadership has benefited communities across the North American continent. These include cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and Ottawa where City Repair projects are underway.

Lakeman’s projects have been featured in such publications as Dwell, Architecture Magazine, New Village Journal, Yes magazine, The Utne Reader, Permaculture Activist and many more. With City Repair, in 2003 Mark was awarded the National Lewis Mumford Award by the international organization Architects & Planners for Social Responsibility for his work with Dignity Village, one of the United States’ first self-developed, permanent communities by and for previously homeless people.

To learn more about Lakeman, click here.  


About Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit sustainablesolano.org