Orchid Lily

Food Forest Keepers: Mike & Deborah

I grew up in the Allegheny Mountains in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It was a plateau, which had great farmland and wildlife. It was “The Roof Garden of the World.” In fact, the first nations agreed they wouldn’t fight over it or stake any claims but rather share it. There was enough game in the lush forests, plenty of fish in the clear mountain streams, and wild berries and fruit and nuts for all.

By the time I grew up this was all pretty much gone. Lake Erie was dead. The rocks along the creeks and streams were stained orange from industrial chemicals. As a small child I used to love when I got a ride past a mine. The ditches near them carried away fluorescent green and orange effluent. With hard-fought legislative efforts and the will of the people, the game and fish have returned. It’s wonderful what Mother Nature can do if we nurture nature rather than assault it.

As an adult I am an avid recycler even though all the bugs have not been worked out of that process. I always vote for “green” measures on the ballot. I have a keen interest in housing, which uses green systems. I dream that one day inner city as well as country living is “off grid” for all.

When my neighbor Winston turned his yard into a food forest with the guidance of Sustainable Solano, I had to know more. To my delight we have been selected to do the same!

Site Details

Installation Date:

November 2021


875 square feet

Sun Exposure:

8 hours



Number of Swales:


Secondary Water:

Lawn Conversion


Roof water diverted to swales

Total annual water impact:

59,143 gallons


Designer: Scott Dodson


Plant List:


Apricot, Bay Laurel, Cherry, Lemon (Meyer)

Lavender, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thornless Blackberry

Agastache, Borage, Comfrey, Lemongrass, Penstemon, Yarrow

Catmint, Strawberries

Daylily, Narcissus


Deborah and I couldn’t be more impressed by Sustainable Solano and Scott and the group of wonderful volunteers! Many hands do make light work. The installation went so smoothly and everyone was so enthusiastic that often it seemed more like a party than work. We are delighted with our food farm and are sure it will look less and less like a farm and more like a garden as it grows in. The way you worked with us on the design opened our eyes to things we hadn’t even hoped we could have. We are shopping for an appropriate sculpture or whatnot for the center of the garden and we have found mailorder outdoor orchids that are groundcover, and purple! Thank you, thank you. We have so much to be thankful for!

Vision for the Future:

As a youngster we had a great big “truck patch.” It was a food garden. And it was customary to share your surplus with neighbors and friends. In our community, August and September were “canning” months where the food was canned and stored for winter, often with friendly help. We had berries too. And it was also common for the kids in the area to go into the woods for berries, as long as it was OK with the landowner. They’d bring home pails full. Deborah had a similar childhood.

We call our food forest garden Orchid Lily, our favorite flowers. We’ve already put our garden bench and lawn chairs in the garden and are on the lookout for a sculpture for the middle of it. We’re discussing what plants we can add after checking with Nicole and Scott, of course. We’re planning a pergola in front of the porch and are so excited to see our garden plants settling in and growing! Next is a couple of vegetable gardens in the backyard.

Orchid Lily Slideshow

Orchid Lily