Help us Shape Our New Doing Good Business Awards Program!

By Sustainable Solano

We know that there are Solano County-based businesses that make a difference in their communities, and this year, Sustainable Solano plans to launch an awards program to recognize those businesses that stand out in their efforts to support people and planet.

And we’d like your help!

The Inspiration

Sustainable Solano has spent 25 years working to strengthen our communities through urban agriculture and community gardens, supporting the local food system, building community conversations and action around environmental and climate resilience, and youth engagement and empowerment.

Our work is informed by the practice of permaculture, which at its base level applies to creating environments that support a healthy, thriving ecosystem. This can apply to landscapes, but also to people, communities and businesses.

We are inspired to recognize businesses that, in their own ways, embrace the three ethics of permaculture: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.

For businesses, we see these ethics materializing in different ways:

  • Earth Care — A dedication to authentic sustainability practices that comes from direct intent, rather than greenwashing or government mandate
  • People Care — A dedication to outstanding treatment of employees, both in policy and in action.
  • Fair Share — A dedication to giving back to employees or the community.

How You Can Help

We want an advisory committee that will help to guide what this program looks like in our community. We want input from business leaders on how to define meaningful efforts in these three areas, and how to judge which nominees are head and shoulders above the rest. Ultimately, an advisory board will review and select the recipients. 

Help us to envision and shape a program that recognizes, celebrates and supports Solano County businesses that are striving to do good!

Want to help? Contact us at We will start the planning process in early March.

Winter at the Pace of Nature

By Jazzmin Ballou, Solano Gardens Program Manager

Every winter I find myself overwhelmed with the need for rest. This comes regardless of how busy I have been, how much sleep I have, or what my calendar looks like for the next week. It shows up as an inherent, unignorable need to slow down and retreat. When I process this in the context of the human world, I feel kind of crazy. Everyone else is continuing on as normal, working and attending social gatherings … and some people are doing even more of those things considering the holidays are upon us! It all seems so surreal to me: the way the human world never seems to slow down, often appearing to just move faster and faster. And then I look to nature. Nature, with her ability to tune in directly to her needs and move at a pace that serves all of her inhabitants. When did we lose touch with this process?

In the winter when I tune in to the pace of nature I find myself face-to-face with myself in all of my slowness. The fog soon clears and I realize my body as a member of nature is asking to move at the pace that the rest of the natural world is moving at. This need for rest is not necessarily because my body is tired from my life, but because my body is taking the hints from the natural world that this time of the year, winter, is intended for slowing down, hibernation, and stasis. I’m reminded of a quote from the book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May, who writes “In winter, I want concepts to chew over in a pool of lamplight — slow, spiritual reading, a reinforcement of the soul. Winter is a time for libraries, the muffled quiet of bookstacks and the scent of old pages and dust. In winter, I can spend hours in silent pursuit of a half-understood concept or a detail of history. There is nowhere else to be, after all.”

As we enter into the holiday season, a time that for so many of us signals travel to see loved ones, time off of work and school, and cozy time spent indoors, I wish you rest. Rest that is so sacred and full of ease, it mimics the process of the leaves surrendering to the wind, carrying them from their host tree to be composted back into the Earth. Rest that is so intentional it allows space for your own internal composting process, preparing you for the rebirth of spring.

The Vision for a SuSol Education Center

By Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano has had a vision for a while now: To have an office space that serves as a place of education around the many things we teach about, such as sustainable landscaping, water capture and reuse; cooking with seasonal, sustainable local food; and building community resilience.

We have been lucky to spend the past few years in our office at the Global Center for Success on Mare Island. This office space puts us near nonprofit partner organizations and the beauty of the Vallejo People’s Garden and the Pollinator Pathway garden we installed with them and Solano RCD in front of the building. But as our team has grown in number, we find there are limitations in a one-room office, both for our team members’ needs as well as ways we would like to interact with all of you in the community.

And so we are returning to that original vision.

We would love to find a safe and beautiful place where we can create and exhibit the solutions we’ve been teaching and demonstrating for nearly 25 years. These may include a permaculture garden or farm, sustainable water techniques, solar energy and maybe even chickens. There could be a commercial kitchen space for teaching classes and preparing food (or the potential to add such a space). We also need a shared workspace and a place to gather around a table for large team or partner meetings, and an area to house tools and equipment, promotional materials and office files. The property would need to be zoned to allow for office space and would need to be able to support visitors coming to the site for meetings, classes and demonstrations.

We’ve seen creative and innovative ways individuals, organizations and cities have supported such projects. In Berkeley, the Ecology Center runs EcoHouse, which was founded in 1999 when a group of individuals “collectively purchased and transformed a small, dilapidated North Berkeley home into a demonstration house and garden.” In American Canyon, the city offered up an old public works yard to be transformed into the Napa River Ecology Center in partnership with the American Canyon Community Parks Foundation. Santa Cruz Permaculture now stewards a 26-acre farm under a 30-year lease as part of its operations.

We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions for supporting this vision! Reach out to us at

Even with this active vision for an education center, Sustainable Solano is committed to continuing hands-on sustainable landscaping and resilience-building workshops, cooking classes, and internships within Solano communities, because these are the very heart of our work. Our goal is to bring neighbors together in ways that help them connect with each other, the Earth, and themselves.

Suisun City Climate Resilience Community Forum Engages Public Around Flood Risks

By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager

Panelists John Durand of UC Davis, Mayor Pro Tem Alma Hernandez, Emily Corwin of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District and Jaclyn Mandoske of Bay Conservation and Development Commission speak during the forum roundtable

Suisun City is vulnerable to increased flooding risks from sea level rise, king tides and storm surges that will threaten homes, businesses and jobs in the coming decades. The Suisun City Climate Resilience Community Forum brought together local environmental experts, city officials and city residents and community leaders to explore those risks, while informing a discussion around community-supported actions and solutions.

The Forum built upon the work of the city’s core team, which organized a Community Resilience Building workshop in June that led to a report by The Nature Conservancy.

Bringing together around 15 residents and a panel that included Mayor Pro Tem Alma Hernandez, Jaclyn Mandoske of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Emily Corwin of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, and John Durand from UC Davis, the Forum sought to engage community members on the topic to collectively work towards preventing and adapting to the threat of rising tides in Suisun.

The day started with an introduction by Alma Hernandez, followed by presentations on flooding issues and the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District’s ongoing and planned flood-related projects.

If you have been keeping up with our outreach efforts, you might already be familiar with the flooding projections published by the BCDC in 2020: an increase of 6 to 10 inches in water level by 2030, 13 to 23 inches by 2050, and upwards of 41 to 83 inches by 2100. This timeline is indicative of flooding due to sea level rise only, and does not include the additional threats that storm surges or king tides present to the city. When determining flood mitigation efforts, all three factors of flooding have to be considered in conjunction with one another. A mix of three primary strategies can be implemented by the city to curb the impacts of flooding: protect, adapt, and retreat. Protection infrastructure, such as levees, seeks to prevent flooding from occurring. Meanwhile, adaptation measures, such as adjusting building codes to prevent water damage, attempt to mitigate the harm that flooding can inflict. Finally, retreat cedes that flooding and damage cannot be prevented in a given area, so preexisting or planned development should be abandoned.

To illustrate how flood mitigation strategies can look in action, Emily Corwin presented on three projects within the radar of the sewer district:

  • The district is planning to establish community treatment wetlands on-site at the district. These wetlands will reduce the amount of excess nutrients being carried out into the Bay, while also helping to bolster the flood resilience of the district and surrounding properties. Additionally, these wetlands are planned to serve as a public educational resource about the Suisun Marsh and host walking trails.
  • The next project was the renovation of the Kellogg Pump Station. This pump station, directly behind residences on Maple Street, was damaged by fire in 2020, and improvements to the station are planned to both bolster fire and flooding resilience and provide a walkable path along its creek.
  • The last project pertained to improving the capacity of the stormwater systems to move water out of Suisun neighborhoods. This, in part, includes replacing older piping.

The district wants to incorporate community feedback into its projects and what should be prioritized in their efforts.

The group adjourned for lunch and came back together for the community forum. The panel was able to answer questions from participants, including clarification from the presentations, what organizations and stakeholders the city could partner with to tackle flooding vulnerabilities, how flooding would impact the Suisun Marsh and examples of how flood-mitigation measures have looked in nearby communities.

Even if you could not attend on Oct. 22, you can still make your voice heard by watching the video recording of the event and filling out our survey.

Participants also gave crucial commentary on how Sustainable Solano can improve our outreach efforts. This includes having greater representation from government leaders at future roundtables to enhance the ability of community members to communicate their needs to the city, and reaching beyond coalition-building with the adult population to offer more ways for students to get involved.

This forum would not be possible without the huge contributions of time and effort from the Core Team: Alma Hernandez, Anthony Adams, Aleta George, Jay Gunkelmann, and Mike Zeiss. Additionally, I would like to thank Jaclyn Mandoske, Emily Corwin, and John Durand for lending us their expertise on the panel and for taking the time to join us for these important conversations.

I would also like to thank our high school interns for helping film during this event, even after their internships ended, and for all their hard work over the course of the summer.

If you are interested in learning more about flood risks or want to get more involved, we are partnering with Adopt a Neighborhood to host another Flood Walk from 10 am-12 pm Saturday, Nov. 19. Additionally, from 10 am to 4 pm on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, we are installing a flood- and drought-resistant garden at a Suisun City home that was previously affected by fire. During the workshop, you can learn how to address similar hazards at your own home.

Climate & Environmental Festival Reconnects Community to Create Change

By Jonathan Erwin, Resilient Neighborhoods Program Manager

Sustainable Solano hosted Suisun City’s first Climate and Environmental Festival in October. From the long slumber of in-person events through the pandemic, it was great to finally see some friendly masked faces and engage with a like-minded community in Suisun City. Over the course of the day, presentations from San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Pathways Climate Institute and Vital Cycles provided a vision and tools for the future while an engagement fair highlighted many organizational efforts across the area as well as broader Solano County.

Amidst the hubbub of the festivities, this event made me realize the importance of connecting with each other. For the past few months, I have found it hard to stay optimistic about the future. With climate impacts happening every day, it wears on my mental state just how insurmountable the climate crisis can feel. Coupled with the pandemic, isolation and physical disconnection from our support networks can leave us feeling the brunt of unsolvable doom.

But there is light in the end. Our conversations through the event both with old and new faces, reconnected us with the larger community across Solano County working and advocating for issues around the climate crisis. We have power in numbers, and our community is energized as ever for change. From resource management, transportation and sewer districts, we have advocates for this type of work across a spectrum of organizations. And the ideas that the 120-plus attendees from the festival came up with represent broad and different strategies that we can use to advance our work at Sustainable Solano and across the efforts of Solano County.

We hope to see you out and about over the next few months to learn more about what your vision is for a more sustainable future. Have an idea now? Feel free to reach out to us at

Check out some of the presentations from the day in the videos below.

2021 Suisun City Climate & Environmental Festival Educational Talks

Adapting to Rising Tides in Suisun City & Solano County
Protecting the Marsh: A New Suisun Marsh Protection Plan
Nature-Based Solutions to Address Climate Change

Climate Advocacy & Policy Lack Coordination in Solano County

By Benjamin Miramontes, California Climate Action Corps Fellow

Benjamin Miramontes joined us this summer as a California Climate Action Corps Fellow with a focus on researching climate action plans, disaster planning and environmental resources in the county. In this blog, they offer their observations and reflections on what they discovered in the process.

Exploring the maze of climate policy and advocacy in Solano County over the summer has left a strange picture in my head. While proposed countywide and city-specific ordinances around climate change are a seemingly comprehensive labyrinth of hazard projections and safety updates, the end result seems to be akin to boards being tacked onto a ship that is already taking on water. Similarly, advocates who are doing important work and aren’t collaborating with others leaves a lot to be desired in terms of meeting the needs of any given community. Climate policy and the state of advocacy in Solano County leaves me — a young person who will experience the increasingly malignant effects of climate change — fearing what a continued trend of meeting the bare minimum and a lack of communication means for our future.

Benjamin Miramontes

This summer, I was accepted to become a California Climate Action Fellow, and through their network I began conducting auditing and research efforts for Sustainable Solano. I have found the experience valuable in teaching me about Solano County’s politics in addition to those of the Bay Area as a whole. While the experience has been overwhelmingly pleasant in terms of preferable scheduling, interesting projects, and respect for my time outside the office, I cannot help but be concerned for the nature of climate change policy being implemented today.

The first proverbial elephant in the room was the disconnect between the myriad of small organizations across the region. This disconnect is a common one, some could call it “silo think.” Generally speaking, it is the separation or lack of communication and collaboration between different groups that are working on the same efforts. I am not stating that all organizations in the Bay should form an amorphous hive-mind. Rather, I cannot help but wish there was more happening after tuning into this sphere for the first time in years. I wonder daily about the organization’s place in local politics and environmentally oriented work, let alone the place of nonprofits in their vast array of efforts across the nation.

I have met some clearly passionate people working in nonprofits and citizen organizations who have been doing important work for their communities over the last few decades. I struggle to reconcile with the fact that these groups do not collaborate as much as they could. Different groups have different projects with different angles. That is a good thing, and that is the inherent nature of grassroots organization. However, the lack of outreach I perceive is worrying. There should be more room for these groups to meet regularly, maybe even elect their own leaders to act as moderators for large gatherings. Why are there so few groups coming together to form larger coalitions when their issues are so closely aligned? An organization advocating for bike lanes, a coalition of tree planters, and a group organizing for green infrastructure all want different things, but are still oriented in parallel. I hope that the leaders in these groups begin pushing to meet and work together with one another at larger scales, for example, bringing in resources from Benicia or Vacaville to help push for policy somewhere else in the county, like Vallejo. I am imploring nonprofits and city governments to communicate more openly about their different projects and needs, so they can better support each other in the work they do.

Another worrying trend I am noticing is the nature of climate policy here in Solano County. New plans are drafted for evacuation in the event of a fire, levees are built to withstand greater floods, and so on. This policy is not bad by any means, but it is largely reactive, and in the case of something like building a levee or trenches for flooding, it is particularly static. There is not a lot of policy in place in terms of “pre-emptive” mitigation or adaptation. In particular, I am referring to policy which takes some of our changes in climate and creates advantages out of them. For example, why are we not saving every bit of rainwater that we can? Cities across the country are utilizing stormwater for green spaces in cities, which can help provide cleaner and cooler air for residents, particularly in neighborhoods or hub areas which have been historically underserved. Cities should take advantage of the funding they can use to invest in green infrastructure and energy for government buildings, homes and multi-unit housing. While tax benefits and breaks are granted to those who install solar panels, could we develop programs to help provide those same underserved communities or struggling small businesses with solar power? In short, cities should collaborate with one another and strive to address multiple issues at once with each new environmental ordinance.

In the end, these are just some ideas I want to bring to you to help percolate thought, and hopefully, action. Putting time, money, and effort into green programs and projects now will pay dividends in the future. This was also meant to serve as a surface level introduction into the role of nonprofits and grassroots organizations in Solano County. I implore you to do research into this if it interests you.