Food Forest Keepers: Mike and Eric
The Woodcock family has lived in the Vacaville area for four generations. My grandfather, Everette Woodcock, the family patriarch, lived along the old highway that is now Highway 80 in the early 1900’s. More recently my dad, Raymond, my self, and now my son, Eric, lives in our family home on Arrowhead Drive. I grew up in the 1950’s always having a backyard vegetable garden that we planted every spring. My father, Raymond, would start getting the soil ready as early as he could turn the ground. When my dad bought our house on Arrowhead we didn’t have much of a garden, grass in the front and grass and a plum tree in the back. I moved off to college and spent a couple of years farming with a friend in the Pleasant’s Valley area. Later, after my son was born, we moved back into the house. I built a green house, and filled the back yard with raised beds growing an amazing variety of herbs, flowers and edibles. My wife and I started our own little cottage business called “Herban Farmer.” She made wreaths and dried flower arrangements and we sold her creations and a variety of dried herbs at craft fairs around the area. We grew out of the family home and bought a home in Vacaville with little room for gardening. Dad replanted grass. I continued to hold on to the idea that there was a better way to live in suburbia. Then I discovered Sustainable Solano. I first learned about the “Food Forest” movement when I read about it in the Vacaville Magazine. My son and I applied to be one of the demonstration gardens that were proposed for Vacaville and were thrilled when we found out our home was selected. The program so perfectly aligns with our own core beliefs of building healthy families and healthy sustainable communities. We look forward to doing our small part to educate the community and share the process of building our own food forest called “Healthy Futures.”
1,042 square feet
Number of Swales:
Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater System
Roofwater Diverted to Swales
Total annual water impact:
The installation process itself was amazing. The first weekend we dug swales, sheet mulched and planted eight fruit trees. A crew of volunteers was there to help with the shoveling, planting, and moving of the mulch. The second weekend was the installation of the gray water line from the garage to the garden. Another group of volunteers showed up to learn about the installation process and lend a hand. The third and final weekend was when the garden took shape. More volunteers joined the project and the irrigation was completed and plants were set in place. A integral part of every Saturday was an educational workshop, which taught others the value of permaculture and it’s place in a water wise garden.
My family is grateful to Sustainable Solano and all of the community members who came to volunteer on the project. I am anxious to see what it will look like as the trees and plants get established. After seeing this process from start to finish I am a new convert for urban permaculture and an advocate for sustainable food forests. These food forests can take the place of front or backyard lawns, reducing our water consumption and adding a readily available supply of fresh food to our tables.
Vision for the Future:
I cannot wait to be able to bring baskets of fruits and vegetables to share with the teachers and students at the music education non-profit where I work, knowing that they came from my own yard. By cultivating and sharing the rewards our little plot of suburban land to create a useful and beautiful forest, I believe that we can inspire and teach others to do the same.