A cool, drizzly morning couldn’t stop the over two dozen people who gathered in a cozy group at the site of Sustainable Solano’s oldest demonstration food forests, “Birds, Bees and Beyond.” A Walk in a Food Forest’s third stop was hosted by Heather and Frank and their children, who volunteered their home and garden not only for demonstrating roof water catchment, laundry to landscape graywater reuse, permaculture landscape planning–but also for Benicia’s first permitted shower-to-landscape graywater installation.

Professional landscapers, gardening enthusiasts, permaculture students, and everyone in between, from Suisun, Benicia, Fairfield, Vallejo, and beyond Solano County came to hear John Valenzuela of Cornucopia Food Forest Gardens. John started his presentation with a brief overview of permaculture concepts and quickly honed into his passion of trees: pruning, grafting, guilds of trees and plants that exist in nature, and especially the edible ones native to, or thrive in, northern California. He provided fascinating historical and political context for the plants in the region, showing a deep love of place an understanding of how things came to be, and thus how things can be in the future.

Immediately following the presentation the guests were led out into the garden to see and hear about the site specific ideas applied to “Birds, Bees and Beyond”. Heather and Frank explained the process of working with a permaculture landscape designer and their hopes for the garden. John chimed in to point out elements that worked well such as herbal plantings that deter pests, things that he particularly enjoyed such as a front yard designed to invite the neighborhood in, and some things that might be done differently (such as an avocado tree very near the house).

“What you need to know for the future,” said a guest, a professional landscaper who had attended the previous talk, “Is that the next time John gives a talk, you should give him a pair of shears and he’ll prune your trees.”

“It’s true,” he agreed, demonstrating a 45 degree angle he’d like to see a branch at.

At the end of the tour, which ran overtime despite the rain, shears were indeed passed out for guests to take cuttings from the garden home.

“Thank you for this tour,” another guest, who had recently moved to Vallejo, said to the hosts. “I have enjoyed eating my way through your garden. And now I just want to go home and get started on my own!”

There will be no tours in December, due to Sustainable Solano’s “Awakening the Dreamer” Symposium and official launch. We hope you join us for the symposium–a natural extension of many permaculture concepts. And we look forward to seeing everyone on January 28th for the fourth stop of our “Walk in a Food Forest” Tour.

Stay tuned for an update of resources John mentioned during this tour’s talk.