We are please to announce that the enrollment to our second training class is now open!


Sustainable Solano, in partnership with Solano County Small Business Development Center, is taking initiative to provide intensive training and to expand employment opportunities in the growing field of sustainable landscaping practices.

Why? Given the continuing drought, it’s important that water-retention techniques for landscaping be widely implemented throughout communities. Sustainable Solano’s aim is to give eligible individuals the basic training necessary to start and manage a “sole proprietorship” landscaping business that can design and help create more sustainable home gardens to conserve water and provide healthy food.

Focus Areas:

Rainwater harvest and retention; laundry-to-landscape greywater systems; edible landscaping; chicken-keeping; small business start-up and operation; Solano urban agriculture laws and more!

When:   October, 2016 –  March, 2017  (2 Tuesday evenings and 2 half-Saturdays a month)

Where:  Benicia

Who:     residents and businesses of Solano County are given the first priority; we’ll consider application from surrounding counties on a case-by-case basis (some restrictions may apply– please inquire)

Cost: Free

Preferred: background in horticulture and/or small construction / handyman / plumbing

Goal: launch new and/or support existing small businesses focused on helping local residents transform front- and/or backyards into thriving, sustainable ecosystems; support creation of a cooperative of people with hands-on practical sustainability skills for the Solano community.

To apply: please send Sustainable Solano c/o <info@sustainablesolano.org> a letter of interest describing your background, current business (if applicable), and your vision for your personal contribution to our community’s sustainability.

Interested? Here’s more info on the Land Caretakers Program:

Sustainable Solano (formerly Benicia Community Gardens) has partnered with Solano County’s Small Business Development Center to support the launch of several pilot small businesses engaged in sustainable edible landscaping.

In conjunction with our Benicia Sustainable Backyard Program, Sustainable Solano will train a select number of qualified local residents who have some foundational knowledge in horticulture and/or small construction (plumbing), in practical aspects of permaculture and sustainable landscaping, water re-use, chicken-keeping, and also, business, legal and human aspects of running a small business in Solano County.


Our vision:

After completion of the six-month training program, participants will be capable (and well positioned in the local community) to create their own sole proprietorship businesses to offer such services in Solano County. Sustainable Solano will provide ongoing support and promotion for those new businesses and will employ them, where appropriate, for other projects and programs in the community. We are creating a Land Caretakers Association of sustainable landscapers in Solano County to support this work.

We would also encourage and support our graduates to form a cooperative and work together to jointly offer services to local residents to transform their land into thriving ecosystems that use all the available resources wisely and that provide food, inspiration and beauty. (A cooperative arrangement would not prevent individual members to carry their own licenses and establish solo proprietorship businesses). The combined skill set should include: water retention on site (bio-swales, rainwater catchment and diversion to landscaping), water re-use (laundry-to-landscape greywater systems and potentially, shower-to-landscape conversions), permaculture food forest design and management, incorporation of edible plants into existing landscapes, conversion of annual vegetable gardens into more perennial food forests; construction of a chicken coop/chicken run and guidance in chicken-keeping, understanding of basic bee-keeping.

Our instructors and guest speakers are experienced sustainable landscaping professionals.

Focus Areas of Land Caretakers Training:

  • Permaculture and ecological / edible landscaping (perennial agricultural design and practices)
  • Water re-use (rainwater harvest/retention; laundry-to-landscape grey-water systems)
  • Chicken-keeping as an integral part of a sustainable household
  • Legal and business aspects of running a small sustainable/edible landscaping business
  • Human aspect (working with clients, listening for their vision, offering guidance)


By completion of the Land Caretaker’s program, participants will be proficient to:

  • Develop, design and start solo proprietorship business in sustainable edible landscaping;
  • Understand and work with basic characteristics of land: sun, wind, soil, water movement;
  • Demonstrate simple rainwater harvesting techniques including contour and diversion swales; roof rainwater catchment and diversion;
  • Install simple laundry-to-landscape greywater systems;
  • Convert established edible gardens into more sustainable, perennial-focused food producing ecosystems;
  • Incorporate perennial and annual food producing plants into established ornamental landscapes;
  • Develop on-going maintenance plan for established edible landscapes and permaculture food forests*, including further expansion and plant replacements (as needed);
  • Consult homeowners on how to incorporate chicken-keeping into household routines, outlining procedures and chicken care “basics”;
  • Understand basic beekeeping requirements and establish working relationships with professional beekeepers in Solano County (who can, in turn, incorporate bee colonies into sustainable landscapes of future clients);
  • Understand basic legal requirements for urban agriculture in Solano County (zoning, small animal husbandry ordinances, beekeeping ordinances, other local rules and regulations relating to local food production and other practical sustainability activities);
  • Understand small business start up and maintenance process, legal requirements, licensing, professional development;
  • Understand logistics and finance of running a landscaping business: start up minimal cost; cost analysis and job estimates; sourcing plants and materials; job scheduling; dealing with unexpected;
  • Gain insights into working with clients – the human part and heart of any business.


  • 72-hour permaculture design training is recommended, but not required. Programs teaching permaculture design and techniques are offered in a few Bay Area locations ongoing.