Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Community Garden guide

People's Garden
Located at 1055 Azuar Drive, Vallejo CA 94592

American Canyon
Elliott Park
2234 Elliott Dr. (South of American Canyon Road)
The City of American Canyon set up this two-acre community garden as a place used by as many as 35 people each year to grow flowers and vegetables. The standard plot is 6' x 12' and costs $25 per year. This covers use of the land, water, and the city's tilling and preparing the soil each winter.

Benicia Community Garden
Marilyn Bardet [] (current as of 2010-08)
News stories:
* 2012-01 "Community Supported Agriculture Program Brings Fresh, Organic Produce To Benicia" by Elena Karoulina, Acting Executive Director, Benicia Community Gardens []
* 2010-08 "Benicia’s Community Garden Considers Expansion" by Samuel J. Adams from Benicia Magazine []

North Richmond Lot of Crops

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012-01-19 "Reinstating Local Food, Local Rules" by Emily L.

NOTE: This is a guest post from Siena Chrisman, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances at WhyHunger, with excerpts from Andrianna Natsoulas’ Food Voices.
WhyHunger is a leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment. Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin & current Executive Director Bill Ayres, WhyHunger works to put an end to hunger suffered by 49 million Americans and nearly 1 billion people worldwide. Find out more at
Andrianna Natsoulas is an advocate for social justice and environmental stewardship. She has worked at several organizations, including Greenpeace, Public Citizen and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. Currently, Andrianna is a consultant. For more information, please visit
In the spring of 2010, WhyHunger began a partnership with Andrianna Natsoulas, longtime food sovereignty activist and author of the forthcoming book Food Voices: Stories of the Food Sovereignty Movement. Food Voices captures the testimonies and images of farmers and fisherfolks across five countries who are fighting for a just, sustainable and sovereign food system; a food system that values quality over quantity, communities over individuals, and the environment over the corporate bottom-line.
Andrianna talked to Maine farmer, and WhyHunger partner, Bob St. Peter in 2011. After traveling and living in various places in the U.S. and around the world, Bob began to reject what he viewed as a privileged culture. He now farms to feed his community in Sedgwick, Maine. At a certain point, his interests in farming and living a simple life merged with his political leanings and Bob discovered a global movement of rural people and small farmers called the food sovereignty movement [].
“For me,” Bob says, “food sovereignty means being able to farm and care for a piece of land in a way that I feel is appropriate, without having market forces dictate what or how I grow. I get to make those decisions, as a steward of the land. I get to do that here in this place with my family in this time.”
Soon Bob began talking about food sovereignty principles within his own community and leading local efforts for change. On March 7, 2010, Sedgwick passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance — a food sovereignty ordinance. Bob is also the director of Food for Maine’s Future [], a board member of National Family Farm Coalition [], and an active member of La Via Campesina [].
“Rural Maine is known for being independent and willing to assert local control over governance. Through the organizing work — local farm, local food organizing work, this moment has arisen where people are being presented with a choice of the future for our community. On the one hand, there are regulations and market forces, including real estate, making it very hard to farm. On the other hand, we have people from across a political spectrum getting together and saying that we want to preserve this way of life.
“A group of us crafted a local food ordinance that would exempt direct farm sales – from the people who are producing it to the people who are eating it – from many state or federal licensing and inspection. Basically, regulations that are usurping our self-governance, our right to govern our own local food supply and to not have any undue burdens placed upon that. We are asserting our food sovereignty and saying that we have it under control and we can do a better job than the state and the department of agriculture and, certainly, the USDA and FDA.
“Generally, there’s the tendency to make things easy for the regulators. There is this tendency to concentrate and make everything so specialized, so you can judge it on quantitative measures, rather than qualitative measures. They say it is in the name of food safety, I think it is in the name of efficiency. It is easier to regulate one large operation than a bunch of small operations, but the regulations are making it difficult for small diversified farms who do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
“I think there’s been an ongoing debate in this country since it was officially founded about the role of farmers. If you are going to colonize or conquer people, you take away their ability to feed themselves. It has been shown time and again. And that, coincidentally or not, pretty much has happened in this country for the last 70 years. Rural communities have been stripped of their ability to feed themselves because of very specific policy choices at the highest levels of government.
“It’s not so much as tyranny of government per se, as it is tyranny of the corporations who are aided and abetted by the government. And that’s what’s undermined our ability to feed ourselves. The bankers should really find something better to do with their time. Growing potatoes, raising chickens. There are all kinds of things people could be doing better with their time than finance capitalism.
“The more the system that we have collapses under its own weight, the next time we have a billion eggs recalled because of salmonella, the demand for local eggs is going to go up. Same with spinach, same with whatever. The more people get sick, the more clear it is that that’s not the best way to do things. Then, people will start asking other questions. How did it get that way? Does it have to be that way? And our job is to come in with the answers, or with a direction. If we are effective as food sovereignty advocates and activists, we are going to help those people understand why we need a local food movement.”
After Bob’s community passed the Local Food Ordinance, four other towns in Maine followed suit. But the State of Maine is challenging the ordinances. In November 2011, Dan Brown, owner of Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, Maine, where a Local Food Ordinance was passed, was served notice that he is being sued by the State of Maine for selling food and milk without State licenses. In response, small farmers and communities are organizing and fighting the lawsuit. Dan Brown continues to sell his products, and his farm patrons continue to buy them. For more information, visit Local Food Local Rules [].

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012-01-16 "TimeBank & Trust: The Mira Luna Interview" by Willi Paul, presented by "Permaculture Exchange"
Mira Luna is an alternative economic activist, organizer, researcher and writer with a wide range of experience in transformative economic projects and a focus on community currency systems. She is the founder and coordinator of Bay Area Community Exchange Timebank, community connector for Community Living Campaign, writer and adviser for, co-founder of Just Alternative Sustainable Economics, volunteer for the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives. She serves on the Board of the US Solidarity Economy Network and the San Francisco Community Land Trust and was formerly co-coordinator of the San Francisco Really Really Free Market for most of its duration. Mira has been an environmental and social justice activist for over 15 years and was coordinator and adjunct faculty for New College's Activism & Social Change program where she received her Master’s in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community. Her internationally recognized blog on alternative economics is Trust is the Only Currency.
Mira Luna [Mira at]

Willi: Give us an integrated economic vision for a local bay area city in 2025? How are you developing and sharing such a vision?
Mira: I think there are tough times ahead, a lot of crises that will likely climax in the next 10 years. We need to build the infrastructure for the new economy while trying to imagine all the things that could go wrong. That's not easy or fun to do. The best way to deal with so many factors in flux is to design relatively simple and diverse solutions. Simple solutions leave less to go wrong and diverse solutions provide resiliency.

Willi: What would this look like in terms of economy?
Mira: A more simple economy with more direct flows from producer to consumer and vice versa. Less complicated goods to manufacture that can easily be produced locally by many people in many different ways. More services that directly meet our needs, rather than 5 middlemen, with many people being able to provide those services. We need to rapidly start replacing imports with local manufacturing and cottage production.
Let's take medicine as an example. Right now, you go to a doctor that had to go through a very expensive long training, she runs fancy tests and prescribes medicine. There are few people that can prescribe medicine, few companies who make the testing devices, few who do the tests and few that make the medicine. All of its expensive and there is a lot of scarcity in conventional medicine and too narrow flow channels for how many people are unwell. So if we had many people trained in barefoot medicine, like herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, massage, homeopathy, nutrition, Qi Gong, saunas and sweats, yoga, Ayurveda, etc. then we would have a lot of direct flows and a lot of diversity. I would approach all of our economic needs that way. There's many ways to convert solar energy into usable energy for humans. I think the region of the greater Bay Area is a good, realistic size for a sustainable economy that can provide the variety of goods that most people need.
In the future, we will be shifting back to a relationship-based and to some degree peer-to-peer economy. This means that the economy will look more like vast, intricate web, with many interconnected functions, nested and overlapping. It looks inefficient to the capitalist, but efficient towards what? A web supports you much better than a single line or two of thread. One thread breaks and that's it. The Timebank is helping to develop this web through exchange and connected unconnected groups to help each other. The Network of Bay Area Worker Coops is doing this by creating a web of relationship and exchange within the network. Just Alternative Sustainable Economics, is a project we started to tie together all the pieces of the alternative economy to support each other at the regional level. The US Solidarity Economy Network attempts to do this at the national level.

Willi: What are the hurdles in your personal strategic plan as you promote your transition to localization?
Mira: There isn’t a lot of funding for the work that needs to be done – developing alternative economic projects, taking them to scale, and building community. Funders are behind the curve. In the meantime we need to build a realistic bridge to the new economy so that people can survive while doing it. It's challenging for people who still have to have jobs for health reasons, a mortgage, family, etc. The Timebank is great for building that bridge because it rewards people with hours for the work of building the new economy and therefore that work is more sustainable. Another hurdle is the psychosocial habits we have that hold us back in the old economy - distrust, separation, competition, fear of scarcity, etc. In order to get there, we need to reduce our dependency on the old economy as much as possible. Right now it holds so much power, take away ours, and keeps us treading the hamster wheel in old habits that are destructive.

Willi: Are you attracting potent partners these days? Who are the strongest?
Mira: There is a lot of interest from potential partner organizations in the Timebank and other alternative economic projects. Seniors, people with disabilities, low income communities of color. These groups all need the new economy and so are the most eager to pioneer. Their lives depend on a new economy. Environmentalists are interested, but because many are white, middle class, able bodied people they are still living comfortably in the old economy and haven’t been as willing to step up to the plate in general as much as I’d hoped. There is less of an urgent push from them although they seem to definitely seem to get it.

Willi: What qualities in permaculture do you see as critical to building an alternative economy?
Mira: Biodiversity is something that is lacking in the mainstream economy. We get our needs met through fewer and fewer channels. This is a big problem for resiliency. If one avenue fails, we have catastrophe. The more elements we have the same function, the better. At the same time, the most promising elements are those that stack functions – for example, a local CSA providing jobs to youth, low cost organic food in more neighborhoods, funding to expand organic farming, space for animals, delivering on bikes to reduce fossil fuel use, and healing the earth.
Zones are also helpful in thinking about the economy. We should focus most on the zones closest to us and develop them, redeveloping the local economy at many levels, but starting with zone one. The largest zone is really skewed in taking over what should be our closest zones. In thinking about how we steal from the future by a debt based and growing, malignant economy, we can reinvest in our local ecology by doing away with interest or even using negative interest so that it becomes more attractive to give your money to local sustainable projects that create real wealth.
I think the whole process of developing and planning a permaculture site, observation, visioning, mapping, etc. would be really useful for redesigning the economy. Right now we go with the flow and it’s going in all the wrong directions.

Willi: Are you pro or anti capitalism? Neither?
Mira: Anti-capitalism, but not anti-market. I am opposed to making money off money and exploiting people and the Earth, but not in aggregating money for projects for the common good. I am also opposed to the concentration of wealth that capitalism encourages, which lead to huge power inequalities. Democracy and capitalism in its current form are incompatible. Because capitalism encourages growth and exploitation, I also see it as incompatible with sustainability goals in its current form. Capitalism is a multi-faceted beast, some parts may be salvaged, while other parts need to be swiftly discarded.
Many folks decry the greenwashing in the business sector. How do you dissect corporations, organizations and individual behavior to uncover corruption?
In all my years of activism and policy work, I see working on large or distant corporations’ behavior as mostly futile. The only way to have transparency, accountability, and democratic oversight is through local and regional economies. The further from the local you get, the more corruption and the less trust.
I have been outspoken in my criticism of permaculture schools who offer costly trainings with little regard to employment support. How are your projects creating jobs? Do you have any examples?
The timebank is creating jobs with a currency called an hour that you create at the time you provide a service –it’s a mutual credit system. It requires someone else to pay an hour, but it’s really just a guarantee that the receiver will help someone else out in the future. This way people can create their own jobs by using their skills without having to wait for money to appear at a business and then apply for the job. There isn’t much money out there these days, which is ridiculous because there are plenty of workers and work that needs to be done. Worker cooperatives also create jobs and more than conventional businesses because there isn’t someone at the top making a lot of money and worker coops will usually keep their workers in tough times instead of laying-off or selling off the business. Coop housing means people invest in place and community.

Willi: Do we need new symbols, stories and/or language to engineer the new economy?
Mira: Yes, we need new stories that will be about how people are tied together by helping each other, making the whole community stronger. We need stories of collective will, heroic gifts and reciprocity. We need stories that help shift our identity from me to we and illuminate our interconnectedness.

Willi: What is the role of competition in your new economic vision?
Mira: It’s quite limited. We need to engineer the new economic system so that the most well taken care of people are those that are the most cooperative, generous, caring, community-oriented, sustainable, and so on. Reputation systems are very important in this re-engineering. Our current money system only has one reputation element – how much money you have in your bank account determines everything. It’s a very incomplete picture of social reality that leaves the best people suffering because they are defined by their small bank accounts. In the new economy, we need ways of communicating and perhaps converting into currency good deeds and reputation. The smallest unit of this model is a gift circle where everyone is witnessing each other's gifts and reciprocating directly. The Timebank is a larger scale gift circle that allows people to exchange with people they don't yet know, but may become part of their community as trust is built.

Willi: How does time work for us and against us in a timebank? Do you want government to play a role?
Mira: You can only spend what you earned in a timebank and everyone’s hour is equal. This means you can’t make time off time like in capitalism. If you don’t have time, you won’t have hours. You can save them up though for the future in some timebanks and this can be a form of social security in old age. Governments are interested in Timebanks because they can provide lots of services at a small cost and take over functions that governments spends lots of money on, like taking care of people who are ill. So sometimes timebanks get grants from the government, which is helpful to get off the ground, but can create precarious dependency. If the government wants to support the Timebank, that’s fine, but ours will always be a member governed timebank.

Willi: Tell us about the Bay Area Community Exchange (BACE). What successes can you point to? What is on the horizon for 2012?
Mira: We just passed 1000 members and trading is happening often several times daily. We are forging partnerships with all kinds of community service organizations. These partnerships can be a strong force to get more active members and provide needed services on the Timebank. Also, we have a decentralized organizing strategy, allowing anyone to organize in their neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area or as a community forming an interest group on the Timebank using our software and operating under the core principles. We are encouraging more of this organizing as autonomous but cooperating local nodes of a regional reciprocity economy. We hope to improve the geographic organizing capability of the Timebank if funding comes in to help transition to more locally self-sufficient and interdependent neighborhoods.
We also want to have more in person swaps after the enormously successful Timebank Holiday Fair. Look for a Homesteading Skillshare Festival this year and more work with the SF Free School. Carebanks for seniors and people with disabilities are on the horizon. We are working in partnership with SF’s computer access program called BTOP to expand the Timebank’s reach where it’s needed most.
During the Great Depression, in the US, hundreds of thousands of unemployed people that got together to form Timebank-like exchanges to provide the currency to support clinics, foundries, mills, schools and so on. One in Oakland, was called the Unemployed Exchange Association. It definitely can be done though it's a little harder because we are so dependent on big banks. Of course, that's all just an illusion. We don't need banks for anything. They don't do anything but enslave us to their scarce, debt-based money.

Willi: Are there unique urban and rural needs and solutions to the present unsustainable economy?
Mira: Personally, I don’t think urban living is sustainable in the long run. It relies too heavily on resource import and export of waste. Most people employed in urban areas are inadvertently exploiting elsewhere in order to be able to have a job that provides no needed goods or services to society in a kind of pyramid structure. They are also disconnected with nature and cannot sense their disharmonies with it. The ecological feedback loops are missing in an urban culture. In the meantime, we need to build community in urban areas to make the transition. That is true for rural communities as well. Both have been disconnected and we need to be working together towards the transition. Urbanites need to start learning survival and homesteading skills and how to work with nature. These skills have almost been entirely lost in urban culture. Again, it’s a crisis of resiliency. We now have less than 1% of people that know how to grow food. We need training programs that train trainers in all the neighborhoods.

Willi: “New Hydrids: Paths to 21st Century Socialism from the Bottom Up” and a piece on OWS are on the home page of the US Solidarity Economy Network. Are you a supporter of Occupy? What is your understanding of their economic strategy?
Mira: Yes, I am a supporter of Occupy, although all OWS camps have their own ideals. I do think we need to occupy what’s ours collectively to build the new economy. We will need those resources. Some Occupiers are now moving from occupying the streets to occupying their economy – homes, workplaces, schools, clinics, etc. Although this phase is just beginning, US SEN is supplying information about alternatives to Occupy groups to move this initiative along.

Willi: How do you critique Wilson Riles’ Radical Alternative Currency System for Oakland?
Mira: Regular people need to be able to earn currency through work, otherwise the currency will not help much to eliminate problems of scarcity and unemployment. This needs to be built into the currency system to a greater extent. In particular, you need a way for low income people to get their hands on ACORNS without having to have cash. All of this can be easily changed in the design of issuance or by hiring lots of people to work for ACORNS on public projects that don't have jobs and accepting the ACORNS in taxes. For a similar model that was wildly successful, see the miracle of Woergl, Austria during the Great Depression.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012-01-14 "Banning McDonald's to Keep the Faith? Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, Calif., fight against the fast food chain" from "ABC News"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012-01-10 "Get Out And Buy Local! Winter Farmers Markets Are Thriving" by Suzi Parrasch
Not so long ago, the end of summer meant the end of fresh, local produce for most of the country, as farmers markets tapered down operations in early fall when the ground started to harden. But not anymore. According to the US Department of Agriculture, winter farmers markets have seen a 38% increase since 2010, and today there are more than 1,200 winter markets operating across the country.
“Consumers are looking for more ways to buy locally grown food throughout the year,” Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan said.  “Through winter markets, American farmers are able to meet this need and bring in additional income to support their families and businesses.”
As the USDA’s blog points out, winter farmers markets provide an opportunity for consumers to enjoy winter crops such as squash and pears, fresh from their local farmers. “Our sales at the winter market even out our income over the year, eliminating some of the highs and lows of our financial situation,” Skip Paul, a farmer at Wishing Stone Farm in Little Compton, RI, told the USDA.
Many markets move inside for the winter months, but not all.  “We have a fire pit to help people keep warm and a very loyal following,” Judy Stroske of the Loudoun Valley HomeGrown Markets Cooperative, which runs a winter market in Leesburg, VA, told USA Today. Stroske acknowledged the weather plays a role in what’s available week to week, but there’s always a selection of meat, honey, salsa, baked goods and dairy — and, as she asserted, no refrigeration worries.
As Merrigan told USA Today,”It’s a win-win for consumers and farmers.”
The USDA credits some of the growth in winter markets to the rise in hoop house technology. Hoop houses — simple, inexpensive steel tubing draped with plastic sheeting — allow smaller farmers to extend their growing season at low cost, especially in colder climates. In fact, as USA Today reports, the USDA began helping farmers pay part of the costs for hoop houses in 2009, and has since co-funded about 4,500 — many of them in Wisconsin and Alaska.
And here’s something that may surprise you, many of the states with the most winter markets are in chillier parts of the country. Take a look at the top ten list:
1. New York
2. California
3. Pennsylvania
4. North Carolina
5. Ohio
6. Maryland
7. Florida
8. Massachusetts
9. Virginia
10. Michigan
Don’t know if there’s a winter farmers market near you? Check out the National Farmers Market Directory [] and make it a New Year’s resolution to buy local — even in the winter.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

About the New Rules Project -
A program of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the New Rules Project started back in 1998 and continues to bring fresh new policy solutions to communities and states to ensure that they are "designing rules as if community matters". 
* It Takes a City – How better rules and regulations promote local self-reliance- this excellent article by David Morris published in In Character magazine (February 2007) provides a fantastic overview of the reasons behind our New Rules Project [].
* Communities: Building Authority, Responsibility, and Capacity []. A good overview article on the concept of local self reliance by David Morris, published in State of the Union, 1994.
 The New Rules Projects features a number of policy areas [] and several key programs and initiatives [], including: The Hometown Advantage, Telecommunications as Commons Initiative, Biofuels and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, and Climate Neutral Bonding.  Meet our staff [].

Why New Rules?
 Because the old ones don't work any longer. They undermine local economies, subvert democracy, weaken our sense of community, and ignore the costs of our decisions on the next generation.
 The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics. The rules call for:
* Decisions made by those who will feel the impact of those decisions.
* Communities accepting responsibility for the welfare of their members and for the next generation.
* Households and communities possessing or owning sufficient productive capacity to generate real wealth.
 These are the principles of "new localism." They call upon us to begin viewing our communities and our regions not only as places of residence, recreation and retail but as places that nurture active and informed citizens with the skills and productive capacity to generate real wealth and the authority to govern their own lives.
 All human societies are governed by rules. We make the rules and the rules make us. Thus, the heart of this web site is a growing storehouse of community and local economy-building rules - laws, regulations, and ordinances - because these are the concrete expression of our values. They channel entrepreneurial energy and investment capital and scientific genius. The New Rules Project identifies rules that honor a sense of place and prize rootedness, continuity and stability as well as innovation and enterprise.
 Click on any of the sectors listed and you will be taken to a web page that contains a list of categories of policy tools appropriate for that sector.

Questions and Answers -

Isn't it unrealistic to expect communities to be self-sufficient?
 Yes, it is. Localism does not mean self-sufficiency. Nations are not self-sufficient, and neither are communities. But nations that are self-conscious and self-determining are stronger because of it. The same holds true for communities.

But aren't there economies of scale?
 Yes, but empirical evidence has shown us that in many important areas--education, health, manufacturing, farming, the generation of power, for instance--it is not globalism and bigness, but localism and smallness that are more cost-effective, more profitable, more environmentally benign, more democratic, more enduring. The only thing that smallness lacks is power, the power to make the rules.

Doesn't localism pose a threat to those who are not in the majority? Doesn't it allow those with means, or power, to secede from responsibility for the whole, leaving the powerless behind?
 If localism were absolute, yes, it would do that. But it is not. Localism is an approach that allows us to sort out which roles are appropriate for which levels of government. Guarantees of basic rights must come from the federal level. Higher levels of government appropriately should set floors--e.g., a minimum wage or a minimum level of environmental compliance or minimum guarantees of political rights-- but not ceilings. They should not pre-empt lower levels of government from exceeding those minimums (as international trade agreements do, for instance.)

Why would localism guarantee efficient, environmentally benign development?
 It doesn't. There are no guarantees in a true democracy, because power rests with the citizens. But it does create the possibility. And without localism, we are guaranteed the opposite: rootless corporations with no allegiance to place, other than to the place with the lowest wages and least environmental restrictions; long lines of transportation, which are inherently polluting; and out-of-scale development that wrecks neighborhoods and destroys habitat. By its very nature, localism would shorten transportation lines, encourage rooted businesses, demand an active citizenry. Localism is a development concept that would enable humanly-scaled, environmentally healthy, politically active, economically robust communities.

Isn't localism simply nostalgia for a simpler time?
 No. Just as globalism is mistaken for progress, localism is often confused with a desire to reverse technology, or turn back the clock. There is nothing inherently progressive about globalization, and there is nothing inherently backwards-looking about localism. Localism has to do with (1) where decisions are made, and (2) the principles guiding those decisions. Those are issues that will and should remain central to society throughout time.

Is localism anti-technology?
 The new localism relies on some of the most sophisticated technologies (e.g. integrated pest management, flexible manufacturing, solar cells.) At the end of the 19th century, as we switched from wood to steel, from water wheels to fossil fueled central power plants, and from craft shops to mass production, technology seemed to demand larger scale production systems and economies. At the end of the 20th century, as we switch from minerals to vegetables, from fossil fuels to solar energy, and from mass production to batch production, technological progress encourages decentralized, localized economies.

Cornucopia Food Forest Gardens[]
Cornucopia Food Forest Gardens provide a continual abundance of beauty, nourishment, healing, fertility, and fun! while functioning as an ecosystem- taking care of the Earth and the People. It is a service by John Valenzuela.
John Valenzuela is a horticulturist, consultant and educator who has returned to live in Northern California after being based in Hawai’i for 15 years.
First introduced to the sustainable design theories and methods of permaculture in 1989, John studied and practiced tropical permaculture and taught extensively in the Hawaiian Islands. He has been a lead permaculture design course instructor at the Bullock Family Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington for over 10 years, and also has experience teaching in Costa Rica and now throughout urban and rural California, collaborating with leading permaculture organizations (see the Colaborative Community  page on this site)
His special interests are rare fruit, home gardening, trees, traditional agriculture, plant propagation, and ethnobotany. He is active in the Golden Gate chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers where he has been the Annual Scion Exchange coordinator for the last two years, and now serves as Chapter Chairperson.
He now lives and grows in North Eastern Marin County California,  where he is diversifying a food forest garden with over 150 varieties of fruit on multi-grafted trees, along with a small nursery, while practicing photography, developing educational materials, freelance consulting, team teaching, planting and maintaining gardens.
John is known for an engaging enthusiasm that matches his depth of plant knowledge.
More on Food Forests:

Food Forests- growing an ecosystem of abundance, by John Valenzuela
Also known as ‘Door Yard Garden’, ‘Mixed Garden’, Huerta Casero, and Kampong, ‘Food Forest’ is an term coined by Englishman Robert Hart to describe the intensive food, medicine, craft, and ornamental gardens of trees, shrubs, herbs and annuals that surround homes in Kerala India, Meso-America, Indonesia, and many other cultures. He recreated this, with appropriately selected species, at his own home in a cool Northern European maritime climate. The archetypical food forests found in the rainy and sun soaked tropical climates can encourage a very dense spacing of plants, this density may not be appropriate for all climates. For the more limited water and lower sun angle found in a Mediterranean climate, plants could be placed farther apart as found in the Mission Gardens of old California.
Of course the original food forests in this area are the native oak and pine forests, with understories consisting of patches of berries, green herbs and edible bulb crops adapted to California’s varied ecosystems, which were sustainably managed by local indigenous tribal cultures for thousands of years. With the Spanish missionaries came the ‘biblical trees’ common to Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle east, and beyond: olives, figs, grapes, pomegranates, citrus and date palms, along with deciduous fruit like apples pears, peaches plums, apricots, cherries. Also many fruits from Mexico and Central and South America were brought by the missionaries, including avocado, white sapote, bananas, capulin cherry, guava, and papaya, among others.
Later immigrants from the Eastern, and Mid-Western US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, brought increasing numbers of varieties and species. It was common in many communities to find mixed gardens of nuts, fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetables. Especially in neighborhoods with smaller yards, there was no choice but to have all their favorite plants all growing very closely together. Later, industrial economies put people to work in factories so they could buy produce from farmers, but they began to neglect their own gardens. Yet perennial food gardens such as food forests persist even when abandoned or forgotten, ready to provide when another generation is ready to tend and harvest. Tending a garden is something very basic to much of humanity. Even with all of our modern distractions, home gardening is still one of the most popular activities in the US.
The physical structure of the food forest imitates a wild forest, with many layers of vegetation, from tall canopy trees to smaller trees, shrubs, herbs, ground covers, root crops, fungi, and climbing vines. In addition, many of the forest ecosystem functions are replicated in a food forest: including enhancing the resources of water, fertility, and beneficial habitat. Basins are used to allow water infiltration for `zero runoff’, and recycled water is used from rooftop rain catchment and gray water sources. Mulch and compost crops contribute to the soil fertility cycles. Various habitats for beneficial creatures are enhanced in the food forest, providing pollen and nectar for pest predator and pollinator habitat, in addition to shelter for other pest predators including amphibians, reptiles, chickens, ducks, raptors and even bats. Human needs the food forest provides for feature a continuous year ’round harvest of a nutritionally diverse diet, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, fragrant and colorful flowers, lumber, fuel, fiber, dye and other useful materials for craft.
Food forests are really nothing new, some version of them are still to be found in our very own neighborhoods today, many originally planted generations ago. We are reviving this tradition with new plantings of diverse, productive and resilient ecosystems providing a backyard cornucopia in these uncertain times.

Collaborative Community: Excellent groups and individuals I am proud to work with-
* Bullock Brothers Permaculture Homestead with Douglas Bullock []
* Regenerative Design Institute with Penny Livingston []
* Occidental Arts and Ecology Center with Brock Dolman []
* Earthflow Design Works with Larry Santoyo []
* Jay Garden Designs with Jay Bretz
* Living Mandala with Jay Ma []
* California Rare Fruit Growers Golden Gate Chapter []
* Sentient Landscape with Geoff Hall and Kamala Bennett []
* Mendocino Ecological Learning Center with Maximillian Meyers []
* UC Davis, ANR Cooperative Extension Marin County with Steve Quirt []
* Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden with Wendy Johnson, Jenna Braeger, Henry Wallace []
* Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, Hall Middle School Food Forest, Larkspur with Rebecca Newburn []
* Merritt College Permaculture with Christopher Shein, Anders Vistrand, Ken Litchfield []
* Earth Repair with Lindsay Dailey []
* Alameda Master Gardeners Seminar with Delia Carroll []
* SF Permaculture Guild with Kevin Bayuk, Fred Bove []
* Common Vision Fruit Tree Tour with Michael Flynn []
* Earth Action Mentor with Doniga Markegard []
* Permaculture Marin with Dustin Kahn []
* Urban Permaculture Guild [], Esalen Institute [] with Kat Steele
* Benjamin Fahrer []
* Planting Justice
* Villa Sobrante
and many others. . .

Golden Gate Chapter, CRFG
 Growing unusual edibles in the San Francisco Bay Area -
The California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) is a non-profit organization headquartered at California State University, Fullerton, with chapters throughout the State of California (and elsewhere) and with members throughout the world. The members of the CRFG are professionals and amateurs all dedicated to the propagation of unusual fruits and vegetables, the acquisition and spread of knowledge about these plants and the enjoyment in doing so.
The Golden Gate Chapter of CRFG conducts meetings throughout the northern San Francisco Bay Area, usually in the odd-numbered months on the second Saturday of the month. Meetings almost always include speakers, tastings, a raffle of unusual plants and the chance to talk to people who live in your area and who share your interests. The major event is the chapter scion exchange in January, where cuttings from fruit trees, seeds, tubers and rootstocks are available, along with grafting instruction and expert advice on selecting, planting and growing these plants..
All are welcome. You need not be a member to attend, although membership in CRFG is encouraged. To receive our bi-monthly newsletter is only $10/year. For more information, contact us at:
Golden Gate Chapter, CRFG
 2209 McGee Ave
 Berkeley, CA  94703
or call Katherine Pyle at (510) 843-1657

[], founded by Willi Paul
"About Willi" biography from Planet Shifter magazine's website:
As a green certified business and sustainability consultant, Willi Paul launched Magazine [] on Earth Day 2009 to build a database of interviews and articles about innovation, sustainability, and the mystic arts.
His bliss renewed in 2011 when he designed [] to produce new mythic stories with modern alchemies.
His work now focuses on what is sacred is to us, the community building power of permaculture and the transformative energy in the new alchemy (ex: soil, sound, digital) and global mythologies. His online course [] is also offered to all at no charge.
Please see his cutting-edge article at the Joseph Campbell Foundation [] and his pioneering videos on YouTube. Enjoy []
Willi earned his permaculture design certification in August 2011 at the Urban Permaculture Institute, SF [].
He is the founder of the Permaculture Guild - San Mateo County [].
Please experience his Mythic Map: A Transition Tool for Creating Culture [], Chrysalis Songs for The Permaculture Age: Transmuting the New Myth [], Alchemy, Symbols & Sacred, his collection of new mythology [] and Mythic Mandate: online workshop & documentary [].
Mr. Paul launched his new job creation & innovation portal called the [] in late October 2011.
Early 2012 works include a new eBook called Tribes: 15 Illustrated New Myths for the Permaculture Age. [] and a Model & Initial Questions for Convergence 2012 + [].
Enjoy Sirens. Kristina Bennett's Interview with Mr. Paul [].
2012-01-08 "Public Park Helps Feed 200,000 People Every Month" by Beth Buczynski
Thousands of people go to bed hungry in the United States every day. Even though America is one of the richest countries in the world, many of its citizens don’t have the means to secure high quality, healthy foods for their families.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles of land sit vacant or unused. Some of these vacant parcels have market potential, writes Michael A. Pagano [], but many won’t rebound soon, if ever. What if instead of allowing these lots to collect weeds and litter, cities helped residents to transform them using edible landscaping []?
The City of Irvine decided to try just such an experiment. In 2008, the city was looking for a way to develop a 7-acre vacant lot that cost taxpayers over $4,000 a year to maintain (i.e. control the weeds). By collaborating with Southern California Edison and the Second Harvest Food Bank, among others, the City created the Incredible Edible park. Just over three years later, produce harvested from the park helps the food bank feed 200,000 hungry people every month []. The site now also includes a bike trail that connects to the Irvine trail system and the City has plans to add additional acres in the future.
Watch the video below to take a tour of the park with John from Growing Your Greens [], and ask yourself why there isn’t a park like this in every city.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012-01-04 "A Bill of Rights for Occupied Communities: A bill of rights that protects the rights to people and nature, but removes them from corporations? Your community could be next" by Thomas Linzey and Jeff Reifman from "YES!" magazine
* Thomas Linzey is the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund [], a nonprofit law firm which provides legal assistance to communities struggling to protect community self-government and the natural environment from corporate decision-making.
* Jeff Reifman is co-founder of Envision Seattle [], a rights-building effort modeled after CELDF’s work. He’s also a technologist, freelance writer and organizer. Visit his wesbite here [].
When communities try to keep corporations from engaging in activities they don’t want, they often find they don’t have the legal power to say “no.” Why? Because our current legal structure too often protects the “rights” of corporations over the rights of actual human beings.
If we are to elevate our rights and the rights of our communities above those of a corporate few, we, too, need to transform the way laws work.
As we wrote in Turning Occupation into Lasting Change [], mainstream progressive groups have failed by constraining their activities within legal and regulatory systems purposefully structured to subordinate communities to corporate power. Truly effective movements don’t operate that way. Abolitionists never sought to regulate the slave trade; they sought to transform the legal structure that supported it by treating slaves as property rather than people under the law. Suffragists did the same with the legal status of women.
This style of organizing moves away from traditional activism—mired in letter writing campaigns and lowest common denominator federal and state legislation—toward a new activism in which communities claim the right to make their own decisions, directly.
To help them do so, we’re offering the model Community Bill of Rights template below, a legislative template for communities that want to protect their own rights. It’s based on real laws already passed from the municipal to the national level—from Pittsburgh stripping drilling corporations of Constitutional “rights” to Ecuador including legal rights for nature in its Constitution. Think of the template as a menu to pick and choose what’s important in your community. It’s meant to provide a framework and a starting point, not necessarily to be used in its entirety.
Passing a new bill of rights is a way for activists to “occupy” their cities with new legal structures that empower community majorities over corporate minorities, rather than the other way around.
Community Bill of Rights of [your city]
This model was developed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. You can learn more about CELDF’s theory of change, its democracy school educational programs on corporate power and its global organizing efforts for community rights at their website:
You can also find the model Community Bill of Rights template for Occupy Communities as a google doc [] or as a pdf [].

Section 1 - Authority
This Community Bill of Rights is enacted pursuant to the inherent right of the residents of the City of [your city] to govern their own community, including, without limitation, the Declaration of Independence’s declaration that governments are instituted to secure the rights of people, and the [your state] Constitution’s recognition that all political power is inherent in the people.

Section 2 - Findings and Purpose
Whereas, the citizens of [your city] recognize that environmental and economic sustainability cannot be achieved if the rights of municipal majorities are routinely overridden by corporate minorities claiming certain legal powers; and Whereas, the citizens of [your city] believe that local legislation that embodies the interests of the community is mandated by the doctrine of the consent of the governed, and the right to local, community self-government; Whereas, the citizens of [your city] believe that the protection of residents, neighborhoods, and the natural environment constitutes the highest and best use of the police powers that this municipality possesses; Therefore, the residents of the city of [your city] hereby adopt this ordinance which creates a community bill of rights for the residents and communities of the City, and removes certain legal powers from corporations operating within the City of [your city].

Section 3 - Statements of Law - A Community Bill of Rights
3.1. The Right to a Locally-Based Economy
 Residents have the right to a locally-based economy to ensure local job creation and enhance local business opportunities. The right shall include the right to have local monies reinvested locally by lending institutions, and the right to equal access to capital, credit, contracts, incentives, and services for businesses owned by [your city] residents.
3.2. The Right To Affordable And Safe Housing
 Residents have the right to affordable housing, the right to a safely-maintained dwelling, and the right to be free from housing discrimination. The City shall ensure the availability of low-income housing stock sufficient to meet the needs of the low-income housing community. People and families may only be denied renting or buying of a dwelling for non-discriminatory reasons and may only be evicted from their residence for non-discriminatory causes.
 3.3. The Right To Affordable Preventive Health Care
 Residents have the right to affordable preventive health care. For residents otherwise unable to access such care, the City shall guarantee such access by coordinating with area health care providers to create affordable fee-for-service programs within eighteen (18) months following adoption of this provision.
3.4. Rights for Nature
 Ecosystems and natural communities within the City of [your city] possess inalienable rights to exist and flourish. The rights of rivers, streams, and aquifers shall include the right to sustainable recharge, flows sufficient to protect native fish habitat, and clean water. The City of [your city] and any resident of the City or group of residents have standing to enforce and protect these rights.
3.5. Right to Water
 All residents, natural communities and ecosystems in [your city] possess a fundamental and inalienable right to sustainably access, use, consume, and preserve water drawn from natural water cycles that provide water necessary to sustain life within the City.
3.6. Right to Sustainable Food System
 All residents of [your city] possess a fundamental and inalienable right to access, use, consume, produce  and distribute foods generated from sustainable farming practices, and to be free of infection, or infestation or drift by any means, from genetically engineered life forms or genetically modified organisms.
3.7. The Right To Affordable And Renewable Energy
 Residents have the right to access affordable and renewable energy sources.
3.8. Right to Constitutional Protections in the Workplace
 Employees shall possess United States and [your state] Bill of Rights’ constitutional protections in the workplace within the City of [your city], and workers in unionized workplaces shall possess the right to collective bargaining.
3.9. Right to Determine the Future of Neighborhoods
 Neighborhood majorities shall have the right to approve all zoning changes proposed for their neighborhood involving significant commercial, industrial, or residential development. It shall be the responsibility of the proposer of the zoning change to acquire the approval of the neighborhood majority, and the zoning change shall not be effective without it.
3.10. Right to a Free, Open and Accessible Internet
 (a) All residents of the City of [your city] shall possess the right to a free and open internet, which shall include, but not be limited to, the right to access, use, send, post, receive, or offer lawful content, applications, or services of the user’s choice.
 (b) All residents of the City of [your city] shall possess the right to be free from provider service and performance level discrimination based on the identity, source or type of individual content or service providers.
3.11. Right to a Citizen Managed and Accountable Police Force
 All residents of the City of [your city] have a right to a police force managed by a civilian police chief held fully accountable by an elected panel of citizens.
3.12. Right to Clean and Fair Elections Free from Corporate Interference
 Residents of [your city] possess the right to fair elections, which shall include the right to an electoral process free from corporate involvement.
3.13. Right to Clean Government
 Residents of [your city] have the right to clean government, which shall include the right to a City legislative process free from corporate lobbying and involvement.
3.14. Right to Marriage Equality
 Residents of [your city] have the right to gender-neutral marriages for both same- and opposite-sex couples.

 Section 4 - Prohibitions and Corporate Legal Privileges  
4.1. Prohibition on Corporate Personhood and Privileges
 Corporations and other business entities which violate the rights secured by this Community Bill of Rights shall not be deemed to be “persons,” afforded by the United States and [your state] Constitutions, nor possess any other legal rights, privileges, powers, or protections which would interfere with the enforcement of rights enumerated by this Charter.
4.2. Ban on Electioneering
 It shall be unlawful for any corporation to make a contribution or expenditure to influence any election within the City of [your city].
4.3. Ban on Lobbying
 It shall be unlawful for any corporation to communicate with an elected official within the City of [your city] urging support or opposition to pending legislation. This ban shall not be construed to prohibit open forum communications between corporate lobbyists and elected officials.

Section 5 - People’s Right to Self Government
All residents of [your city] possess the fundamental and inalienable right to a form of governance where they live which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded on the people’s authority and consent, and that corporate entities and their directors and managers shall not enjoy special privileges or powers under the law which make community majorities subordinate to them.

Section 6 - Enforcement
6.1. The City of [your city] may enforce this Community Bill of Rights through an action in equity brought in the [your court of jurisdiction]. In such an action, the City of [your city] shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.
6.2. Any resident of [your city] shall have the authority to enforce this Community Bill of Rights through an action in equity brought in the [your court of jurisdiction]. In such an action, the resident shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.

Section 7 - Severability
The provisions of this Community Bill of Rights are severable. If any court of competent jurisdiction decides that any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision of this Ordinance is illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts, or provisions of the Community Bill of Rights.

Section 8 - Repealer
All inconsistent provisions of prior Ordinances adopted by the City of [your city] are hereby repealed, but only to the extent necessary to remedy the inconsistency.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012-01-03 "Community garden program set to branch out"
CHICO — As part of a grant program being run by Chico State University, the hope is that more people will learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
The $500,000 grant includes community gardens, cooking classes and better access to locally-grown food by low-income buyers.
For the community gardens, it's early in the process and people can suggest locations. One of the most important things is to find people who are willing to be volunteer coordinators and helpers. The program helpers can access plants, seeds and resource guides.
The focus is on the Chico area.
Examples of existing community gardens include one at 14th Street and Mulberry, used by the Jesus Center. This was a vacant lot where food is now grown.
Another is at the Murphy Commons housing complex, on Notre Dame Boulevard.
Another garden has a partnership with the ARC, where people from the independent living program help grow the food. Yet another works with Opt for Healthy Living,
Monica Bell is handling phone inquires, and can be reached at 588-0441.
One of the key people working with the gardens will be Stephanie Elliott, who works with GRUB (Growing Resourcefully, Uniting Bellies). The group has helped community members with various projects over the years.
What they are looking for are people who say, "Wow, I like this idea. I want to be a part of it and am willing to run that garden," Elliott said.
"We give them the tools and techniques."
The location can vary from a front yard, to a quarter acre in someone's back yard, or a shared area.
Other aspects of the program include cooking demonstrations and about two events a month over the next two years. Those involved with the grant also will form a group that will continue to look at the nutritional needs of the community.
The idea for community gardens already has begun to generate phone calls.
The grant was awarded by the specialty crop program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funding is part of $55 million delivered nationwide, including $18.6 million in California.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012-01-02 "Is Organic Agriculture Bad for the Environment? Another Reason to Eat Locally" by Rachel Cernansky
The New York Times ran an important story about a growing shift in the organic agriculture industry away from sustainable practices. There are still no synthetic chemicals, but large farms growing organic crops often use monocrop agriculture, an inherently unsustainable practice that erodes soil quality, or use water resources so heavily that local aquifers become depleted.
The Times explains more []:
[begin excerpt]
The explosive growth in the commercial cultivation of organic tomatoes here, for example, is putting stress on the water table. In some areas, wells have run dry this year, meaning that small subsistence farmers cannot grow crops. And the organic tomatoes end up in an energy-intensive global distribution chain that takes them as far as New York and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, producing significant emissions that contribute to global warming.
[end excerpt]
But it's a complicated issue, as The Times story, which is based in part on a trip to Mexico, further explains:
[begin excerpt]
Many growers and even environmental groups in Mexico defend the export-driven organic farming, even as they acknowledge that more than a third of the aquifers in southern Baja are categorized as overexploited by the Mexican water authority. With sophisticated irrigation systems and shade houses, they say, farmers are becoming more skilled at conserving water. They are focusing new farms in “microclimates” near underexploited aquifers, such as in the shadow of a mountain, said Fernando Frías, a water specialist with the environmental group Pronatura Noroeste.
They also point out that the organic business has transformed what was once a poor area of subsistence farms and where even the low-paying jobs in the tourist hotels and restaurants in nearby Cabo San Lucas have become scarcer during the recession.
[end excerpt]
Organic Vs. Conventional -
Organic agriculture, even when produced on large-scale farms that are not necessarily sustainable, is still ultimately better for the environment than conventional agriculture, according to most experts. But conventional agriculture is not a baseline to be working from. A small car produces fewer emissions than a large SUV, but that doesn't mean everyone should be looking to cars as a sustainable means of transportation.

Eating Locally -
What this Times story does is point back to the argument for getting to know the farms in your area and buying from them whenever possible. You eliminate the emissions associated with transporting food the long distances that imports have to travel; chances are good that if a farm (organic and local farms are best) sells at farmer's markets and other small, local venues, it is using more sustainable practices than its large-scale counterpart; and when you buy locally, you're just about forced to also buy in-season produce.
As The Times story points out, the demand for tomatoes in the middle of winter is part of what drives the demand for importing tomatoes from far-away places that don't have the water resources to grow tomatoes on a large scale.
(Buying locally also allows you to eliminate some packaging waste, since imported organic produce often comes wrapped in plastic, like in the container above, or since many supermarkets do the extra packaging themselves to distinguish organic produce from conventional.)
So: by eating locally and in-season, you don't have to worry about whether the farm supplying your organic produce is depleting the water and soil in far-away places in ways that defy one of the founding principles of organic agriculture—sustainability.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012-01 "Community Supported Agriculture Program Brings Fresh, Organic Produce To Benicia" by Elena Karoulina, Acting Executive Director, Benicia Community Gardens. published in "Benicia Magazine"
 For all kinds of good reasons, the best food to buy is what's grown closest to us, and it's even better for our health and for the planet if the food is raised by organic methods. Small farms practicing sustainable agriculture in our region deserve support and need our dollars to stay in business. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program that provides such an opportunity, beneficial to both farmer and consumer alike: urban folks can make a difference in a farmer’s life and livelihood while enjoying a variety of very fresh, in-season, sustainably raised fruits and vegetables that come from the land around us.
 Benicia Community Gardens, our local non-profit, which currently supports two community gardens downtown (Swensen Garden, located behind Heritage Presbyterian Church, and Avant Garden, a “moveable” garden on First & D Streets), has chosen CSA as a new project to provide more choice for sustainable food to local residents. Our CSA partner, Terra Firma Farm, is located 40 miles from Benicia on 200 acres in Yolo County. Terra Firma sustainably grows over 100 diverse crops each year. You can learn more about the quality of their operation at Choosing to purchase organically raised food directly from the farm, Benicia residents can support a small, diversified farming operation that follows ecological land management practices. Unlike industrial agriculture’s methods, Terra Firma’s are truly sustainable: they encourage biodiversity, save energy and water, protect wildlife habitat, preserve and build topsoils through composting and cover-cropping, and therefore, do not involve use of toxic pesticides, herbicides or petroleum-derived fertilizers that end up depleting soils and contaminating groundwater. (Occasionally, the farm is allowed to use a very limited number of natural pesticides and fertilizers approved by the National Organic Program; you can read more about the rules at the Terra Firma website)
 A CSA program wouldn’t be possible without a central drop-off and pick-up site for the farm’s weekly deliveries and for the retrieval by CSA members of their individual boxes of fruits and veggies. Benicia Community Gardens has teamed up with Heritage Presbyterian Church, whose pastor, Beverly White, is proud to have her congregation helping to provide for more sustainable food sources for Benicians, and to be “involved as much as possible in the community.” Heritage Presbyterian has been host to Benicia Community Gardens’ first garden, founded by Dr. Ed Swenson in 1999, and provides for public use of their buildings, as well as helping to cook and serve meals once a month at St. Paul’s. They also sell fair trade tea, coffee, chocolate and olive oil to their members and friends to support various mission projects. Heritage Presbyterian’s participation in our “CSA-Central” program will extend their church’s good will even farther into our community.
 For the program to get started in January, we need at least 15 people to sign up with Terra Firma Farm. To become a member, please go to Terra Firma’s signup website, click on “New Members Sign Up,” choose “Benicia” and register. You’ll be asked to make your first payment; once we have 15 people registered, you’ll be notified about the delivery start date.
 Produce boxes come in 3 different sizes: small ($14), medium ($24) and large ($32). You pre-pay for a few weeks of delivery ($100 and up) and you can get a discount based on the prepayment amount. New customers can try CSA for 2 weeks; you’ll be asked to deposit $28 to cover 2 weeks delivery of a small box. Once you’ve spent all of your pre-payment, you receive an email notification requesting a new deposit. Alternatively, you can sign up for automated payments. For more details go to Boxes will be delivered every Wednesday, by 3pm, to Benicia Presbyterian Church and held there to be picked up by CSA members before 9pm. You will receive detailed instructions once you sign up.
 We hope that many of you reading this may want to give CSA a try and enjoy a unique opportunity to support one of our regional sustainable farms and have fresh organic produce from Terra Firma delivered almost right to your door!