Growing Together

Vallejo Resilient Neighborhood

Neighbor Team: Kywanna, Luis

Our second Resilient Neighborhood team came to us with a unique set of hopes, goals and challenges that provided a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate how the Resilient Neighborhood model can be adapted to a variety of environments and circumstances. Their enthusiasm and openness made collaborating with them an absolute joy and brought much needed hope and inspiration to our organization as we had to adapt and determine how best to build community under the constraints of a pandemic that demanded physical distancing. Despite the obstacles and changes to our typical collaborative installation process, the team remained in high spirits and worked with us every step of the way to bring their new gardens into fruition. This is truly just the beginning for Growing Together, which is a shining example of positivity and resilience in the face of challenging times.

Design and Scope:

Permaculture designer Ojan Mobedshahi designed each home to address its unique features and challenges, which included getting creative working around hardscape, existing vegetation, and designing for smaller spaces. These challenges presented unique opportunities to focus on stacking functions, which means each element provides more than one function in the garden, like fruit trees producing food and shade or repurposed materials being used to build raised planters where access to the soil was not possible.

Shade and Temperature Regulation: Nine trees were selected and placed at the two homes to help regulate temperature while many also provided the added benefit of producing food. The new understory vegetation also plays an important role in reducing the ambient air temperature through transpiration, which moves water through the plant from the soil to the leaves where it can evaporate and cool the air. Two shade sails were also installed to provide much needed cover to exposed hardscape. Shade sails are an effective, low-cost way to help regulate temperature where planting vegetation is not possible.

Water: Roofwater was diverted into swales where feasible to reduce runoff and help recharge groundwater, and each yard was sheet mulched to improve the water-holding capacity of the soil and reduce moisture loss to evaporation.

Sustainable Landscaping and Food Production: The homes incorporated fruit trees and shrubs along with an assortment of edible perennials, herbs and pollinator plants. The varieties of plants were strategically chosen to provide diversity across the homes and produce a varied crop of food to be shared between the neighbors. Two raised bed vegetable gardens were constructed from reclaimed wood to provide growing space for annuals on top of hardscape, wine barrels were added to house smaller fruit trees on top of paved areas, and edible perennial vines were used to maximize growing area in a small space.

 

Plant Varieties:

Below is a list of some of the plant varieties used across the homes in Growing Together.

Coast Live Oak, Meyer Lemon, Pink Lady Apple, Mexicola Avocado, Blenheim Apricot, Santa Rosa Plum, Pineapple Guava, Mandarin
Pomegranate, Manzanita, Yankee Point Ceanothus, Artichoke, California Fuchsia, Rosemary, Bush Lupine, Evergreen Currant, Bee’s Bliss Salvia, White Sage, Cleveland Sage, Matilija Poppy, Chilean Guava, Coyote Mint
Lemon Verbena, Lavender, Comfrey, Oregano, Dill, Thyme, Yarrow, Feverfew, Basil, Assorted Annual Vegetables
Western Blue-Eyed Grass
Grape, Passion Fruit, Runner Beans

Installation:

The installation of these homes took place over a series of Saturday workdays in July 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing mandates, we were unable to hold the public educational workshops that are foundational to the program and building community connections. Instead we worked individually with each homeowner, bringing the designer and Sustainable Solano support staff together to complete the work while ensuring the neighbor-team received in-depth training and information on the installation of their new gardens. We hope that in the future these homes can host workshops to build skills and teach techniques that we would have loved to include during the installation process. The neighbor-team worked incredibly hard to complete the installations, unable to rely on the support of their larger community, and we commend them for their flexibility, perseverance and humility as we navigated these uncertain times.

Hopes for the Future:

Our collaboration with Growing Together has only just begun. As we are faced with navigating a global pandemic during a time that should be centered on building relationships among neighbors, we are looking forward to a time in the future that we can come back together and continue to build on the work that was seeded this year.

Growing Together Slideshow

Growing Together Resilient Hub