New Program to Focus on Air Quality in Fairfield

Sustainable Solano Awarded 3-Year, $260,000 Community Air Grant

By Sustainable Solano

Photo credit: Visit Fairfield

A new program that will focus on air quality concerns, causes and solutions will help Fairfield residents to address air pollution within the community.

Sustainable Solano was recently awarded a $260,000 Community Air Grant that will support the planning and implementation of this new program over the next three years. The goal of the program will be to build public awareness around air pollution, its environmental causes and health effects, and engage community members in ways to monitor and mitigate air pollution on an individual and community scale. It will launch later this spring.

“From the crosswinds to the local environmental conditions, poor air quality impacts the population of Fairfield greatly,” Sustainable Solano Executive Director Elena Karoulina said, citing the grant and highlighting its importance. “Our goal is to increase public awareness and strengthen community capacity to monitor and respond to air quality issues in real time with help of local youth leaders.”

The program will engage high school youth leaders through a Youth Air Protectors program. These youth will research the air quality challenges for their communities, create outreach campaigns and support community-based projects centered around air quality. The program also will increase the number of air monitors in and around Fairfield, and will build community resilience through air quality mitigation projects, such as planting trees or improving community spaces to make them more appealing for foot and bike transportation.

Ultimately, the youth involved in the program will create an air quality plan for the City of Fairfield that incorporates what they have learned through research and community engagement and could set the foundation for future air quality improvement projects. This plan could serve as a model for other Solano County communities, as well as the greater region.

Sustainable Solano was one of 33 community organizations and five Native American Tribes that received a total of $10 million in grant funding from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for projects that would help reduce air pollution in communities.

The Community Air Grants program is part of CARB’s overall efforts to implement Assembly Bill 617. Community Air Grants are designed to establish a community-focused approach to improving air quality and reducing exposure to toxic air pollutants at the neighborhood level. AB 617 is unique in that it requires CARB and air districts to work with residents, businesses and other stakeholders to tackle air pollution at the community scale. The current grants elevate community voices and their specific priorities regarding air pollution where they live.

As a result, the projects funded will help communities identify areas with the most harmful air emissions and then take actions to reduce exposure or address the underlying cause of the pollution.

“The Community Air Grants provided by CARB are an important tool to help residents and Tribal communities throughout the state identify and combat the harmful effects of local air pollution — and create a cleaner environment for their families,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph.

Read more from CARB’s press release about the Community Air Grants program and find additional resources 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, youth leadership, sustaining conversations and community gardens.

For more information, visit

About CARB

CARB is the lead agency in California for cleaning up the air and fighting climate change to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards. Its mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective reduction of air and climate pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.

Dixon Partnership Brings Together 2 Programs to Create New Garden Site

By Sustainable Solano
We are excited to build upon two of our garden programs to support a new demonstration food forest and community garden in Dixon that will provide produce for the community, educate children about connecting with food and the local agricultural community, and build another example of waterwise, sustainable gardening that can inspire and educate others.
This Dixon Community Church site will soon be converted from grass to a lush, waterwise community garden

The new Dixon garden, Gracious Garden, will be developed in partnership with Dixon Community Church and the Neighborhood Christian School. Neighborhood Christian School serves preschool through eighth grade and has been a part of the community for more than 40 years. The school partnered with Dixon Community Church in relocating the campus this past year. The church has served Dixon for more than 100 years and is on East A Street, where the garden will be highly visible to passers-by.

“We anticipate creating a first in the community food forest, filled with perennials and other diverse crops,” Principal Eden Callison said. “As much as 80% of the yield would be donated to our local food bank partners: Dixon Family Services, CornerStone Baptist Church … as well as in the future create a farmers market style event to continue to highlight and provide opportunity for students and families to sell items made from the garden and provide a full circle educational experience to students within our school and community.”

The vision is to combine efforts through Sustainable Solano’s Solano Sustainable Backyards and Solano Gardens programs to develop different aspects of the completed garden, creating a more robust demonstration site in the process. This is the first time the two programs would work together on a site from design through installation, and we hope it can create a model for future projects.

“I am thrilled that this will be our second demonstration food forest in Dixon and it will serve to educate a large population on how to replace a lawn with a water-efficient food forest garden that includes a section for annual food production,” said Solano Sustainable Backyards Program Manager Nicole Newell.

Tour a Demonstration Food Forest March 12

Solano Sustainable Backyards previously brought a demonstration food forest to a Dixon home in 2020, transforming that lawn into a sustainable landscape.

On March 12, the public can tour that two-year-old residential demonstration food forest garden, named Pollinators Paradise, and see how the site captures rainwater and roofwater in the ground to build healthy soil and provide more readily accessible water to the plants in the garden. This site was originally a water-hungry lawn, but now provides food for the occupants and habitat for wildlife, particularly through an abundance of plants to support pollinators. During the tour, permaculture designer John Scott will go over the steps to transform a lawn into a thriving, water-efficient ecosystem.

Learn about how to install a food forest garden by watching the series of videos below created during the installation of Pollinators Paradise.


Learn Hands-on Garden Techniques March 19 & 26

The installation of Gracious Garden will create an opportunity for hands-on learning about creating gardens that grow food, build community and support a healthier environment. On March 19 and March 26, hands-on workshops will install the first phase with a water-efficient demonstration food forest garden through the Solano Sustainable Backyards program, funded by the Solano County Water Agency. Designer Phil Gray will lead those workshops.

The community garden portion of the design will begin installation in April, and is supported through the Solano Gardens program, funded by Solano County. Designer John Davenport will lead workshops for that part of the project on dates that will be announced soon.

Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival to Showcase Resilience

For immediate release

Media Contact: Allison Nagel, communications manager

Interviews, photos and other materials available upon request

Suisun City will hold its first Climate and Environmental Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Suisun Harbor Theater.

The festival creates an opportunity for Suisun City community members and other Solano County residents to connect with organizations focused on the environment and climate resilience. Admission is free.

Suisun City will need to adapt and respond to increased flood risks from climate change, both from increasingly strong storms and sea level rise. The Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival is being offered by the City of Suisun City and Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods program as a way to build public awareness around environmental risks, and better inform public engagement around developing the city’s Flood Resilience Action Plan.

Participating partners include San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Suisun City Adopt-A-Neighborhood, Bike Mobile, Solano Land Trust, Solano County Resource Conservation District, Fairfield Suisun Sewer District, Suisun City, Solano County Library and MCE Clean Energy.

The Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival will include booths with family-friendly activities and informative talks on resilience. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission will address the threats from sea level rise and different strategies and solutions for Suisun City. Anne Freiwald and Lydia Neilsen of Vital Cycles will speak about creating climate-conscious landscapes — offering ideas for what residents can do in their yards for more resilience to climate challenges, from flooding to drought.

Nonprofit organizations and community groups are invited to join the festival to showcase their environmental projects and work in Suisun City and around the region. Tabling spaces at the festival are free and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Any group or organization interested in hosting a booth at the festival should contact Resilient Neighborhoods Program Manager Jonathan Erwin at

The festival, which will be held mostly outdoors, will meet the county’s current guidelines for health and public safety around COVID-19 protocols.

Find more details here as they’re announced:



Suisun City Climate and Environmental Festival

10 am- 3 pm Oct. 9

Suisun Harbor Theater

The City of Suisun in partnership with Sustainable Solano will be hosting the city’s inaugural Climate and Environmental Festival showcasing environmental projects and organizations from across Suisun City and the region. The event will include opportunities for residents and participants to engage with organizations to help save the environment and foster climate resilience in Suisun City.

Schedule of Events:
10 am-3 pm Resource and Engagement Fair

11 am Adapting to Rising Tides in Suisun City and across Solano County

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) will share their Adapting to Rising Tide’s (ART) Program work on sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation planning in the San Francisco Bay Area. This will include findings from the 2020 ART Bay Area report on sea level rise vulnerability impacts and consequences in the Suisun/Fairfield area, as well as BCDC’s work on regional sea level rise adaptation through Bay Adapt: A Regional Strategy for a Rising Bay.

11:30 am Climate Futures in Suisun City

Kris May from Silvestrum Climate Associates will discuss sea level rise adaptation opportunities and considerations in Suisun City. In collaboration with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the 2019 Suisun City Focus Area: Example Application of the Adaptation Planning Process report was created, which provides a hypothetical case study of sea level rise adaptation options in Suisun City.

12 pm Protecting the Marsh: A New Suisun Marsh Protection Plan

BCDC will also provide information about a major project to update the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan, a protection plan aimed at protecting the natural resources of, and public access to, the Suisun Marsh. The Plan, created in the 1970’s is undergoing an update to address a number of changes that have taken place since its creation. We are planning to have many conversations with stakeholders and the public, to gather input and perspectives, as we update the plan. We will present on the status of the update, and our plans for the future.

1 pm Transforming your Yard, Nature based solutions to addressing Climate Change

Anne Freiwald & Lydia Neilsen of Vital Cycles Permaculture will present nature-based solutions to addressing climate change impacts in your yard and community. Learn more about how your lawn and landscape can help make your home and community more resilient to flooding, drought and other climate impacts.

Participating partners:

  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • Suisun City Adopt-A-Neighborhood
  • Bike Mobile
  • Solano Land Trust
  • Solano County Resource Conservation District
  • Fairfield Suisun Sewer District
  • Suisun City, Solano County Library
  • MCE Clean Energy

Vendors and Groups interested in tabling should contact Jonathan Erwin at


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


About Resilient Neighborhoods

Sustainable Solano’s Resilient Neighborhoods program is to unite neighbors in working collaboratively, with the support of the greater community, to create robust and regenerative urban ecosystems that mimic nature in performing valuable functions like producing food, filtering air and cycling water. We hope to create a culture of collaboration and mutual investment in a brighter future, instilling new social and environmental connections within communities across the county. The program is funded by the Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation Foundation.

For more information:

Bounty of the County Returns Sept. 27-Nov. 7

Celebration of Solano County food will highlight local farms and independent restaurants

Bounty of the County, a celebration of Solano County agriculture and chefs, will feature a different restaurant each week starting Sept. 27 and running through Nov. 7. Each restaurant will highlight in-season ingredients grown on local farms in a special free sample item that will be given to restaurant customers that week. Sustainable Solano will highlight the event with weekly videos, including cooking demonstrations by the chefs and farm profiles.

This is the second year of Bounty of the County, which creates an opportunity to learn about local farms and the importance of local food, while drawing customers to independent restaurants that source locally. Last year’s Bounty of the County also featured wineries, which will be highlighted in separate events in 2022.

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.

Due to COVID-19, the celebration moved online in 2020 with virtual demonstrations and participating restaurants offering featured dishes. After the summer wildfires affected many Solano County farms, last year’s program also became a fundraiser, raising more than $10,000  for wildfire relief.

This year’s celebration continues in a hybrid format, with cooking demonstration videos with local chefs and video farm profiles shared each week on social media and the Bounty of the County webpage. Featured restaurants will offer in-season, complimentary samples made with ingredients from these local farms that customers can try during their week in the spotlight.

Sustainable Solano continues to organize Bounty of the County in partnership with the Solano County Fair Association while working toward the goal of a future in-person public event aligned with public health and safety.


2021 Bounty of the County participants include:

Restaurants: BackDoor Bistro (Vacaville), The Barn & Pantry (Dixon), Michael Warring (Vallejo), One House Bakery (Benicia), Rasta Mama’s Kitchen (Vacaville), Two60 Kitchen + Bar (Fairfield)

Farms: Be Love Farm, Eatwell Farm, Lockewood Acres, Terra Firma Farm, Umbel Roots


This year’s Bounty of the County was developed in partnership by Sustainable Solano and the Solano County Fair Association.



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


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 

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 

For immediate release

Media Contact: Allison Nagel, communications manager

Interviews, photos and other materials available upon request

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:

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

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 or 805-512-0901