As part of a large, multi-stake Solano Local Food system project, Cultivate Community Food Co-op, in cooperation with other county organizations, will be working on a pilot project through September 21st with local farmers and chefs to offer participating co-op owners weekly home delivery of local, sustainably-grown produce and locally prepared meals. There will be no charge for home delivery for this pilot, though participants will need to pay for any food purchased.
The purpose of this effort is to collect data in regards to the costs of labor, equipment and time that is needed to develop and implement a local food network that supports Solano County consumers, farmers, and chefs. The results obtained will be used to better understand the opportunities and challenges that exist to achieve the goal of building the community and economy while improving access to healthy, sustainably grown food.
Cultivate Community Food Co-op (CCFC) will be Solano County’s first community-owned, natural grocery store providing high-quality, locally-sourced, culturally-relevant, ethically- produced and affordable products.
Click here for information about how to become a member.
The Vallejo Watershed Alliance welcomes Chris Rose from the Solano Resource Conservation District (RCD) to help lead its next restoration project in Vallejo. Since their last successful partnership to restore habitat in the Blue Rock Springs Creek Corridor, the RCD has secured a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy to plant native vegetation around Lake Dalwigk.
Chris will present an overview of the planned restoration work at this year’s annual planning meeting and will discuss how best the Alliance can join in this important work. Following the presentation, calendar activities for the next twelve months will be discussed.
Members of the public are invited to come for the presentation only or stay for the entire meeting. Free refreshments and parking.
The meeting will take place on Saturday, August 18, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Dan Foley Cultural Center (Vista Room) located at 1499 North Camino Alto, Vallejo. To RSVP, call 707.652.7812 or email Info@VallejoWatershedAlliance.org.
By Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan
Over the past month, I (and others on the Local Food team) have been visiting farmers, ranchers and food producers in Solano County to get a more concrete picture of the current local food supply. Clay Ford of Pleasants Valley Honey Company was on my list. “Do you want to visit the apiary?” asked Clay, as I was arranging a meeting with him. “Sure,” I replied, “that would be great!” On a hot June Friday, I drove out to Soul Food Farm, which is one of five locations where Clay keeps his bees.
Clay’s wife Karen was the first to greet me near the hives. She explained that their honey is hand-spun, and that they keep the hives near farms that use little to no synthetic pesticides or herbicides. I noticed several rows of thriving lavender plants in the distance at Soul Food Farm, which I’m sure held tasty nectar for the bees. Location is important; I learned that bees shouldn’t be kept near or in a forest, because it disturbs the native population.
I figured we’d chat about the honey business and then I’d be on my merry way. Nope! Clay came prepared with a full bee suit for me to don, and invited me to get up close and personal with the Queens and Workers who help make his business happen. Great! (I’ve never done this before!) Karen helped me climb into the suit and then agreed to take some pictures of me. (I figured my two little boys at home would find this super cool – I looked like an alien, after all.)
Bees are certainly fascinating creatures, and it was a rare opportunity to get to see them in action. My thanks go out to Clay, who patiently answered all sorts of questions that I had about how he got into the business, the structure of the hives, the behavior of the bees, and more. I got so involved in learning about the apiary that I was half an hour late for a dinner party that night. But that’s ok…..it was a sweet way to start the weekend.
Look for Pleasants Valley Honey Company at Farmer’s Markets in Vacaville and Fairfield, and at select retailers around the County.
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Sustainable Solano is a grassroots, county-wide movement uniting people and their initiatives aiming to serve the future of Solano County, to promote ecologically sustainable, economically and socially just communities. The organization had been expanding its mission of sustainable gardening since 2011 to include all forms of sustainable local food production (urban agriculture, permaculture, wise water landscape practices, Community Supported Agriculture partnerships and public education). Benicia Community Gardens changed its named to Sustainable Solano in 2016 to reflect its current scope and growing reach to actively engage all of Solano County. Sustainable Solano provides opportunities to local community members across the county to participate in four main initiatives: sustainable landscaping, local food movement, a community conversations speaker series and a sustainable neighborhoods pilot expanding on the sustainability framework to include renewable energy and shared small local solutions. Since 2016, its programs have extended to Vallejo, Fairfield and Suisun City.
Sustainable Solano will be launching its Sustainable Backyard program in Vacaville this August bringing educational, hands-on learning opportunities for residents interested in sustainable landscaping and wise water landscape practices to feed a landscape. This program focuses on transforming lawns and unproductive landscapes into lush, food-producing gardens fed primarily by secondary water sources (laundry-to-landscape greywater system and rainwater) and also brings inspiring talks on sustainable landscape design and permaculture principles.
The Vacaville Sustainable Backyard program will launch on August 11, 2018, with a talk by the permaculture expert Lydia Neilsen at Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville. The application period will be open to Vacaville homeowners and community public spaces to apply to become “food forest keepers” and have their yard transformed into a demonstration food forest garden. Highly visible, front-yard lawns are preferred but other types of landscapes (up to 2,000 square feet) are welcome to apply. Details about this expansion and a downloadable application will be available on the website homepage from August 11-September 21st.
Sites are assessed and chosen by Sustainable Solano’s Advisory Board made up of dedicated residents aiming to raise sustainability awareness in Solano County. Site selections are based on criteria such as: yard access, greywater feasibility, sun orientation and a commitment to community education.
There is no financial cost to Vacaville homeowners interested in being a part of this community-building project. The program will offer a series of free, hands-on public educational workshops where locals can learn about permaculture design and be part of the installation of these edible ecosystems fed by secondary water sources. There will be an annual tour of these demonstration food forest gardens.
The Sustainable Backyard program has successfully completed 15 demonstration food forests on both private and public land since the initial launch in 2015. Names given to these gardens are a reflection of the hopes and aspirations of the homeowner as part of their vision for the world they want to live in. Suisun City homeowner and food forest keeper of “A Growing Future” demonstration garden, Cassandra, had her lawn replaced with what she calls “a secure source of local food for my family with a surplus to share with the community”. For food forest keepers in Solano County, these gardens are a source of inspiration, resiliency and connection with neighbors. For Benicia food forest keeper Nam, the garden provided something else aside from birds, bees, flowers, fruits and vegetables. “This garden provided a place for meditation and a peaceful space during difficult times for our family.”
This project is made possible by the funding and support of the Solano County Water Agency.
The Sustainable Backyard will expand to Dixon and Rio Vista in 2019. Visit www.sustainablesolano.org and www.facebook.com/sustainablesolano for updates and details about this expansion.
In addition to self-sustaining, water-efficient landscapes, Sustainable Solano also envisions an environmentally and economically sustainable local food system. In September of 2017, it was awarded a planning grant by the USDA to begin developing a business plan for Community Food Centers in all seven cities. These food centers will serve as a hub for local food activities: CSA deliveries, cooking classes, and community education increasing access to seasonal, locally-produced food, better health for residents county-wide and a stronger local food economy.
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The Cloverleaf Farm is a 10-acre, certified organic orchard and farm in Dixon bursting with juicy peaches, nectarines, apricots and figs. Emma Torbert and Katie Fyhrie lease the orchard from The Collins Farm and co-manage the Collins Community Farmstand.
For the 2018 season, the community farmstand, directly off of I-80 West at the Kidwell Exit, is open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00am to 3:00pm now through October 8th. In addition to fresh fruit, also enjoy fresh pies, popsicles, blackberries, organic Cloverleaf stone fruit, and organic vegetables from Hearty Fork Farm.
Cloverleaf Farm will be hosting several events at the Farmstand this summer like special U-pick days which will be advertised on their Facebook page and through their mailing list.
For information on purchasing produce or joining their fruit CSA, please e-mail email@example.com. Please go to Find our Produce to purchase a CSA share.
The Berkeley Food Institute launches its newest project, ‘Hungry for Change,’ a collection of compelling profiles showcasing the work of 20 emerging food system leaders across California who are advancing equity, health, and sustainability in food systems. These 20 up-and-coming trailblazers represent a broad range of geographic regions, areas of reform, and socio-economic backgrounds. What these leaders have in common: a desire to remake food systems in order to bring about greater equity, justice, sustainability, and health for all.
This project chronicles the successes, challenges, and innovative thinking of these trailblazers intent on making change on a local, regional, and national level. These farmers, policy advocates, social entrepreneurs, and social justice activists work in different fields, but share a vision of remaking and repairing food systems.
Hungry for Change grew out of BFI’s Changemakers project and takes the form of a print publication, written by Sarah Henry, and a 10-minute movie, produced by Fabian Aguirre and Maya Pisciotto of The Understory. Click here to watch film clip.
The project was generously supported by the California Endowment.