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Archives for July 6, 2014

Locals learn gardening tips from Twilight Tour

Posted Jul. 6, 2014 @ 8:00 am

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Gardening tips during the dog days of summer

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Chef garden: Growing tips while you golf at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale

A resort hotel is an unlikely place to learn about farm work. But guests who check into McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale for concerts, craft beer and golf sometimes wander into a fertile kitchen garden that supplies Chef Kenny Giambalvo with fresh ingredients and inspiration.

Says Giambalvo, while standing knee deep in basil that he can use in salads, pesto, pastas: “I’m like a kid in a candy store where I want everything.”

The New York native worked with local farmers to supply his kitchen at urban restaurants in Portland, Southern California and the East Coast. But here, he consults with a team of gardeners to plan the season’s menu. And he can check on the progress every day by just walking yards from his restaurant pantry.

Chef gardens are common in Portland, where eating local is celebrated. But it is rare for most chefs to be so close to the action.

Noble Rot in Northeast Portland has a rooftop garden, where chefs harvest what they want to cook that night. Meriwether’s Restaurant in Northwest Portland has its Skyline Farm that produces most of what is used in the kitchen, but the farm is 12 miles away. 

The McMenamins hotel chain has kitchen gardens at other sites, but Edgefield is the largest. More than 5,000 pounds of food will be harvested this year, says Kim Kincaid, who manages a crew of six gardeners across the property.

On Aug. 13, people attending the McMenamins Edgefield Estate to Table Dinner held in the middle of the garden, will taste first-hand the benefits of picking herbs, vegetables and fruits and whisking them to waiting cooks.

Throughout the summer, diners in the hotel’s Black Rabbit Restaurant and Bar can order a salad made of fresh asparagus and strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, and other dishes made from fingerling potatoes, tomatoes and other foods grown here.

The half-acre vegetable garden, along with pears and cider apple orchards, are wedged between the golf course and manicured landscaping. Guests wander around and quiz gardeners about organic methods they could use at home.

The 74-acre property has a legacy as farmland. From 1911 to 1982, residents of the Multnomah County Poor Farm raised produce, dairy, hogs and poultry on this parcel, as well as about 225 additional acres.

The property, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was overrun with wild blackberries when Mike and Brian McMenamin opened a winery here in 1990, followed by a brewery and then a hotel.

Today, Mary Colombo, Edgefield’s edible landscape coordinator, and Kincaid help Chef Giambalvo plot out the seasons and time the harvests to supply ingredients picked when their flavor and size serve the chef’s ideal.

Kincaid, who has worked for two decades designing and installing kitchen gardens, is also a home cook, so she knows what chefs needs. But Giambalvo still surprises her with eggplant dumpling, roasted radicchio and brandy-soaked summer fruit pudding.

“Kenny likes not only the fava beans we grow but also the greens for his fava bean tendril and sweet onion salad,” Kincaid says, as she snaps opens a fresh-picked bean pod.

— Janet Eastman

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South Bay calendar: July 5 and beyond


Native Buckwheats, Bonbons for Bees: Learn about this versatile plant, a nectar plant for butterflies, bees and other pollinators. 7-8:30 p.m. July 17. Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave. Free. 650-260-3450,

Santa Clara Valley Koi and Water Garden Club Pond Tour: Visit six unique koi ponds with botanical gardens, model trains and more in San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 19, $5-$15, free for ages 12 and younger. Purchase ticket, then begin tour at any location. Addresses available at


Summer Garden Sculpture Exhibit: Sculptures by local artists are on display throughout the gardens at Filoli. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 7. Closed Mondays and holidays. 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. $8-$18 (includes guide and a map); group rates available.

Your Lawn Is Dead, Now What?: Presentation covers a variety of no-lawn landscaping styles and ideas. 7-8:30 p.m. July 9. Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road. Free. 650-260-3450,


Kelton House Farm: Celebrating 17th and 18th Century America: Joseph P. Gromack speaks about the Kelton House Farm (built in 18th century), its collection of 17th and early 18th century American furniture and decorative arts, and its landscaping. 7:30-9 p.m. July 15. Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. $15., 415-750-3600.

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E-learning initiative: Bringing scientifically-validated apps to classrooms

16 teams selected for a 2-month boot
camp to develop
interactive material to make learning fun and interesting.


An e-learning competition aimed at developing new interactive content for education is moving ahead as 16 teams have been selected to participate in a boot camp starting this month.

Ilm Ideas, an education project funded by the UK Department for International Development, started the Ilm Apps Challenge in May in collaboration with the Pakistan Innovation Foundation (PIF). More than 180 entries were received. After brainstorming and hackathon sessions in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, 16 teams were selected to take part in the boot camp. Four more wild card entries are expected to be announced by next week.

The two-month boot camp is starting from July 15. It will include training sessions and visitations to various schools.

At the end of the camp late in August, 10 final teams will be announced. The winning teams will receive funding from Ilm Ideas. In January, the teams will deploy their ideas in the field for three months.

Organisers of the competition said there was a shortage of scientifically-validated interventions for the education sector. This was something the competition aspired to address.

Talking to The Express Tribune, PIF founder Dr Athar Osama said e-learning was a relatively new concept in Pakistan.

“The idea is to promote learning through local content creation and gamification of education,” he said. Athar said any e-learning effort should be undertaken through a systematic process. “There may be a lot similar efforts on e-learning being undertaken in Pakistan, but all of it is being done haphazardly. We are not doing this just because somebody else is doing something similar. People who have such an attitude fail to focus on evidence-based technology,” he said.

“The PIF conducted an e-learning landscaping prior to the challenge to identify the nature of interventions being done in Pakistan,” Athar said. He said two to three scientifically-validated projects would be selected at the end of the competition.

“By the end of the competition, we should have some validated interventions for education so that if a donor wants to scale it up further, it can do so based on evidence,” Athar said.

3D science practicals

The team Arbisoft, which is taking part in the competition, aims to digitise all practical experiments of matriculation and O-level curriculum into 3D simulations.

The team seeks to supplement practical experiments for schools where labs exist and offer an alternate virtual low-cost platform for schools that do not have labs and equipment.

Arbisoft project manager Usman Younas said the idea aimed to give students a visual understanding of concepts.

“The desired output is for the students to be able to learn any science practical easily,” he said. Younas and his team created a prototype of two physics experiments in 3D simulation for the challenge.

Younas said e-learning tools were very important for Pakistan which lacked educational resources.

App for children

In trying to find culturally relevant content for their two-year-old daughter, Aiyaz Kidwai and his wife, both graphic designers, set out on a journey to produce creative technological content.

The result was a mobile app called Duddoo Aur Dhobi, developed more than a year ago.

Kidwai’s new idea is aimed at incorporating elements of local culture like professions, arts and crafts into the app.

“It is not really about converting textbooks into apps. It is about reviving rare and extinct elements of our tradition for our children,” he said.

Targeting children between the ages of six to nine, the idea uses localised history and sociology.

Kidwai said working people like the washerman, cobbler and gardener had a peculiar cultural standing in our society.

“Teachers and parents want interactive and interesting content that is locally relevant for children. These tools have a long lasting impact on children,” he said.

Making maths fun

GenITeam, a company specialising in mobile games and apps, proposed gamification of mathematics to make learning the subject fun and challenging.

Using word-based problems, the concept incorporates visuals and board game elements into apps, which can be used by students on smart phones or tablets.

GenITeam Marketing Manager Jibran Ghani said the app would utilise attractive styles to make learning fun and also offer an analytical tool for teachers to evaluate students’ performance.

He said they had already spoken to a number of schools where the beta version of the app would be launched. “Private schools are already incorporating tablets in their classrooms. The government needs to subsidise gadgets and encourage local content,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.

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Candidates say they would focus on funding smaller communities as SLIB member

From investing in air service to laying down fiber-optic cable, candidates who, if elected, would sit on the State Loan and Investment Board said smaller communities could diversify and economically expand with some help.

SLIB is made up of Wyoming’s top five elected officials: the governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor and superintendent of public instruction.

Sixteen incumbents and challengers from the Republican, Democratic and Constitution parties are running for one of the top five offices.

SLIB can approve a variety of grants and loans that can help Wyoming communities through programs administered by Wyoming Business Council staff members.

The WBC provides assistance that ranges from funding grants to help communities and their economic development organizations create a plan to attract businesses in the first place, to financing publicly owned infrastructure to serve the needs of business or attract companies.

It also has a program to help communities preserve old schoolhouses and government facilities to become community centers, said Ron Gullberg, spokesman for the business council.

Examples of funding include public infrastructure such as water, sewer, streets and roads; airports; rights of way; telecommunications; land; spec buildings; amenities in a business park, industrial park, industrial site or business district; landscaping; recreation and educational facilities; and other physical projects in support of primary economic and educational development, he said.

But the money isn’t magically endowed on a community. Communities and their economic development associations must approach business council staff members, work on applications for projects and apply for the money before the entire business council.

The business council can recommend grants and loans to cities, towns, counties, joint powers boards and tribes but not directly to companies, Gullberg said.

Business council recommendations are forwarded to SLIB, but SLIB doesn’t always rubber-stamp them. At the last SLIB meeting, for instance, it rejected the business council’s recommendation for partial funding for a project in Afton, instead funding it in full.

Candidates in competitive races shared their views on how they could and couldn’t help smaller communities achieve economic expansion and diversity.

Jennifer Young, Constitution Party candidate for secretary of state, and Sheryl Lain, Republican state superintendent candidate, said they would forward answers to the Star-Tribune but did not.

Gubernatorial candidate Cindy Hill recommended that people read her “Red Book 2” document on her website to understand her ideas.

Gov. Matt Mead, seeking re-election as a Republican: Mead’s spokesman, Renny MacKay, said there has been expansion and diversification under the governor’s leadership and Mead will continue to support that.

The technology sector is expanding, “for example, Ptolemy in Sheridan, UL in Laramie, Silver Star in Afton, Eleutian in Cody, Square 1 in Jackson and Mountain West Technology Networks in Casper,” MacKay said in an email. “There has been growth in manufacturing in Gillette, Laramie, Sheridan, Riverton, Cody, Powell, Evanston, Cheyenne and other communities. Examples include High Country Fabrication in Gillette, HiViz in Laramie, VacuTech in Sheridan, Legacy Molding in Riverton, and North Star in Evanston.

“All of these have meant more jobs and more opportunities in new sectors and growing sectors for people across Wyoming.”

Taylor Haynes, Republican, governor: “I think working on modern infrastructure, not just road and bridges but complete infrastructure, so a city and town can attract the industries. A key is information technology or fiber. I think we should run fiber through all of our cities and towns, and then the opportunity for various companies to connect would be there.”

Pete Gosar, Democrat, governor: “I think SLIB could help with infrastructure. I think some of these small communities have real infrastructure needs. Maybe they can take a look at finding a way to get those local business that are already producing goods and services, give them some opportunity to promote or market their product on a regional or national level (through the University of Wyoming Market Research Center).

Small businesses are the real job creators in Wyoming and in the United States. So we should support that wherever we can with the SLIB board, business council, Market Research (Center) and all those things that can help small businesses be successful.”

Ed Buchanan, Republican, secretary of state: “I think each geographic area seeks to attract certain businesses based on their unique niche in the marketplace. For Goshen County, we have an agricultural-based economy and seek to utilize our resources based on the raw products available for our area.

We have promoted the use of things like grain and straw to promote the construction and expansion of an ethanol plant, as well as a company that produced a lumber-like material out of straw and plastic. … As secretary of state, I would strive to become educated regarding a rural community’s niche products and market strengths so that I could fairly and objectively evaluate their funding requests.”

Pete Illoway, Republican, secretary of state: “If I were secretary of state, I’d like to see us to be able to see these outlying counties. (For instance) Big Horn, if they’re asking for a certain amount of money and they have a hard time spending the money to come down to Cheyenne, is to do closed-circuit (television) or Skype.”

Ed Murray, Republican, secretary of state: “Let me point out my 11,000 miles I’ve spent so far has been about a listening campaign to understand and respond to the local towns and communities and their needs. … It doesn’t matter where we are in the state — it can be north, south, east or west — there’s a strong concern in our smaller communities that they’re being ignored by the state in their needs for funding and the predictability of funding.

So as a member of the SLIB, I will be a strong voice and advocate for investment in our local communities that will help or improve infrastructure development, workforce development and quality of life, all of which are the building blocks for economic growth and diversification and business.”

Clark Stith, Republican, secretary of state: “In general, I think it’s the proper role of government to make investments where the market would not otherwise adequately invest (such as old main streets.) … There’s an appropriate role for the State Loan and Investment Board to play for investing in infrastructure projects that benefit cities and towns.

So I strongly support those types of projects that are designed to make communities business-ready, but what I’m against is corporate welfare. I’m against picking winners and losers. You don’t pass an old friend to make a new one.”

Mark Gordon, Republican incumbent, treasurer: “From the point of view of the SLIB, what we do is lots of infrastructure projects and so on to help them, and I think we’ll continue doing that.

You know, the business council has a number of programs that they try to foster economic development in small communities, but you know, what’s really going to make a difference there is helping entrepreneurs get started. … A lot of it is just trying to foster good entrepreneurs to try to provide them with good tools and support (such as teaching small business owners how to write business plans).

One of the biggest issues we have in Wyoming for economic development, which is going to be a big challenge, is good air service. That’s one area where the state may have to spend a little more effort on.”

Ron Redo, Republican, treasurer: “I would basically say that (money) should be fairly distributed on a basis of population, partly. I realize some communities have unusual problems and might need more help. I would have to say (grants) would have to be evaluated pretty carefully how it’s done.”

Jillian Balow, Republican, superintendent of public instruction: “As state superintendent and SLIB member, I will be in communities talking about infrastructure, project needs and desires, etc. Communities with infrastructure to support and desire to have can vie for projects.

This takes planning and coordination at the local level and with the state. SLIB members have a responsibility to know what communities want large projects and work with them on infrastructure so they can vie for larger or new projects.”

Mike Ceballos, Democrat, superintendent of public instruction: “If (communities or economic development boards) are sitting down to say, ‘We’ve got a business that we’d like to come here’ or ‘We’d like to attract this type of business; we need to develop a business park,’ then … I think as a state elected official, you would be trying to help them, directing them to the right places. Share your expertise.

The blessing is I’ve done that. … I was on the LEADS board from (the late 1990s) through 2011. I was state president for Qwest. (Qwest) would assist any community and had assisted Casper in the past, if they could call in for information they needed.

Most often if a community is trying to recruit a business, then they need help in (telecommunications) infrastructure.”

Bill Winney, Republican, superintendent of public instruction: “I look at small communities, and my take on that is first you need to look for grants, just because they don’t have a tax base (for loans). Then you look at, well, what kind of industries or businesses you could put in there. Certainly the Internet would be part of that.”

Reach political reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

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Green Opportunities faces big changes – Asheville Citizen

DeWayne Barton would have teamed up with aliens six years ago if that’s what it took to give some of the young people in his neighborhood a shot at a better life. Fortunately, he settled on Dan Leroy instead.

“We were very different, but we didn’t have to know each other to know we were working for the same thing. We had the same goals, ultimately,” Barton said. “I would have worked with a Martian to meet those goals. We both would have. What we wanted to achieve was deep, and it was big. We both had that vision.”

Barton and Leroy will end a six-year partnership this year as co-founders of one of Asheville’s most successful young nonprofits, Green Opportunities, which announced recently that it will seek new leadership in coming months. The pair will step down as co-directors to make way for a new leader, which they hope to have in place this fall.

Having started as a small job training program, running out of a garage on less than $80,000 a year, Green Opportunities has quickly grown into one of the area’s nonprofit darlings, connecting youth and adults from low-income Asheville and Buncombe County neighborhoods to sustainable, green jobs in the area.

The organization is also spearheading an ambitious $4 million project to revitalize one of the area’s most significant segregation-era landmarks, which will become its home in coming weeks.

“We’ve undergone a lot of changes in the last several months, and we’re going through more in the next few,” Leroy said. “We’ve grown up into something a lot larger and a lot more complex than I could have predicted. It opens up a lot of challenges and a whole new set of opportunities for us.

“It’s been phenomenal, watching this grow,” Leroy said. “It’s an amazing thing.”

Growing opportunities

To date, GO has trained more than 500 students to work in construction, small start-ups, in kitchens — anywhere that sustainable jobs can be found. The organization targets those with the greatest barriers to finding good, decently paying jobs: those with criminal histories, no high school diploma or just little job training.

Leroy and Barton met in 2008 through city officials, who told them they were essentially shopping around for the same start-up: a job training and placement program that met two community needs rarely considered together.

They were an improbable pair but ended up filling a nonprofit niche they didn’t know existed.

“Dewayne was looking at it from one perspective, recognizing that the Burton Street community needed an infusion of opportunity to give young people a way out of getting into trouble,” Leroy said. “Pairing that with the environmental aspect, the need to address the consequences of climate change, it was a way to address poverty and community health and true sustainability.

“These things are both critical, urgent needs, and no one was really working on them together,” he said.

Barton, a longtime resident of the Burton Street neighborhood and founder of the area’s community Peace Gardens — one of Asheville’s first community gardens — said he was frustrated at watching parts of the community thrive, while others looked the same or worse than they they did 20 years ago.

“My number one goal was to help the people in the community with the most obstacles — the people who had the most to overcome to lead a better life, who were being skipped over,” Barton said. “The environment was a platform for that, and it was something that affects the people I wanted to help the most.

“The people impacted by poor environmental conditions are people in these communities,” he said. “But they’re not connected with it in a positive way — in solving it.”

The program started just before the height of the Great Recession, staying afloat and even growing through an economic downturn that hit most Asheville nonprofits hard.

“I think it just hit this sweet spot, addressing the needs that people were seeing everywhere of poverty and environmental impact,” Leroy said. “People got behind it really quickly.”

The organization has faced fundraising challenges in the past couple years, Green Opportunities development coordinator Billy Schweig said, but hasn’t lost funding or had to make serious cuts to programming.

The organization has confronted rumors in recent weeks of fiscal problems, he acknowledged, but he insisted the organization is in good financial shape.

“Funding, primarily in the form of grants, has dried up in the last year or so,” Schweig said. “But as rapidly as things grew, I think it was just a matter of finding out what was sustainable.

“It’s been a really meteoric rise, one that I think speaks to how necessary this organization was to the community,” Schweig said. “I think it’s been an amazing model to show that sustainability is only sustainable when everyone has access to it, when it’s more than just rich white people who have a hand in it.”

Changes at hand

The organization’s operating budget of about $1.3 million has remained steady, Leroy said, and the nonprofit is in “the best cash flow state we’ve ever been in.”

And with that success, Leroy said, have come some big organizational changes.

GO has worked over the last year to narrow its focus, he said, shedding some of its smaller programs and social enterprises to focus on two main programs.

They’ve also consolidated programming, which used to be separated into groups of 18- to 24-year-olds and “adults,” now joining the same classes.

Today there are two distinct curricular tracks in the technical training portion of GO. One focuses on the built environment — interior and exterior — called the construction and maintenance track. The other track focuses on cooking and food preparation skills, the kitchen-ready track.

Training cycles last for 16 weeks, including direct life skills and technical skills training, after which members get job placement and ongoing support services.

The kitchen-ready classes cover basic food service and technical skills. A portion of the class is devoted to life skill training, covering nutrition, resume writing, interviewing, job search, and job retention skills. The use of local and seasonal food products is a key component of the training, and the program works in partnership with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, MANNA FoodBank, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville and Asheville City Schools.

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association actually funded the initiative in 2011 that led to Green Opportunities’ adoption of the program.

Some of the smaller components, like the organization’s weatherization program and another landscaping enterprise, have spun off into smaller businesses owned by GO graduates, who then partner with the organization to take on jobs.

Reid renovations

The organization’s highest profile project to date has been the $4.3 million renovation of the aging W.C. Reid Center — a space Barton sees as a symbol of the wounds GO has always worked to heal.

The planned upgrade of the center, funded mostly by a $3.9 million federal Housing and Urban Development grant, will turn the former segregation-era school building into a job-training center for GO and administrative space for the Asheville housing authority.

The Livingston Street School was a segregated African-American elementary school built in the early 1900s. After integration, the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department used the building primarily for youth programming.

“To be able to give life to a building that’s so tied into the African-American community, a place that a lot of people thought was really on the road to a wrecking ball, I think that means a lot,” Barton said. “We don’t want to stop there — this is just the A in the alphabet — but it’s a good place to start.”

The Asheville housing authority, which won the award in 2011, will move in later this year, though GO staff hopes to be in later this month. The building’s position in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods made the center a strong contender for the grant, HUD officials said. The average family income of the area around the center, which is next to several public housing complexes, is $8,139.

Along with GO, other tenants of the renovated center will include instructors from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, tutors to help struggling students earn school credit and a computer lab.

Leroy said he and Barton will stay on with the organization as long as it takes to find a new leader, though their demands are high. The nonprofit has formed a task force for the search.

“It’s going to take a special person, for sure,” Barton said. “It needs to be somebody with the heart to do this work, somebody with their heart in the communities we’re working in.

“But it also needs to be somebody who can wade through the bureaucracy that comes with leading a nonprofit,” he said. “They’ll have to surf both those things.”

When asked about his legacy to GO, Barton’s answer is characteristically short and to the point.

“The hustle continues,” he said. “That’s it.”

About the nonprofit

For more information about Green Opportunities and its programs, visit

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Trowel & Glove: Marin garden calendar for the week of July 5, 2014

Click photo to enlarge


Garden exchange: The Marin Open Garden Project encourages residents to bring their excess backyard-grown fruit and vegetables to the following locations for a free exchange with other gardeners on Saturdays: San Anselmo from 9 to 10 a.m. on the San Anselmo Town Hall lawn; San Rafael from 9 to 10 a.m. at Pueblo Park at Hacienda Way in Santa Venetia; Mill Valley from 10 to 11 a.m. on the Greenwood School front porch at 17 Buena Vista Ave.; Tamalpais Valley at 427 Marin Ave. from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.; and Novato at the corner of Ferris Drive and Nova Lane from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Go to or email

Harvest exchange: West Marin Commons offers a weekly harvest exchange at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Livery Stable gardens on the commons in Point Reyes Station. Go to

Gardening volunteers: The Novato Independent Elders Program seeks volunteers to help Novato seniors with their overgrown yards on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. Call 899-8296.

Nursery volunteers: Volunteers are sought to help in Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy nurseries from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at Tennessee Valley, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at Muir Woods or 1. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays or 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the Marin Headlands. Call 561-3077 or go to

Nursery days: The SPAWN (Salmon Protection and Watershed Network) native plant nursery days are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and weekends. Call 663-8590, ext. 114, or email to register and for directions.

Garden visits: Marin Master Gardeners and the Marin Municipal Water District offer free residential Bay-Friendly Garden Walks to MMWD customers. The year-round service helps homeowners identify water-saving opportunities and soil conservation techniques for their landscaping. Call 473-4204 to request a visit to your garden.

Garden volunteers: Marin Open Garden Project (MOGP) volunteers are available to help Marin residents glean excess fruit from their trees for donations to local organizations serving people in need and to build raised beds to start vegetable gardens through the MicroGardens program. MGOP also offers a garden tool lending library. Go to or email

Harvesting volunteers: The Marin Organic Glean Team seeks volunteers to harvest extras from the fields at various farms for the organic school lunch and gleaning program. Call 663-9667 or go to

San Francisco

Botanical garden: The San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, at Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park, offers several ongoing events. $7; free to San Francisco residents, members and school groups. Call 661-1316 or go to Free docent tours leave from the Strybing Bookstore near the main gate at 1:30 p.m. weekdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. weekends; and from the north entrance at 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Groups of 10 or more can call ahead for special-focus tours.

Floral palace: The Conservatory of Flowers, at 100 John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, displays permanent galleries of tropical plant species as well as changing special exhibits from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. $2 to $7. Call 831-2090 or go to Volunteers are sought to serve as Jungle Guides and docents. Call 637-4326 or email

Around the Bay

Landscape garden: Cornerstone Gardens is a permanent, gallery-style garden featuring walk-through installations by international landscape designers on nine acres at 23570 Highway 121 in Sonoma. Free. Call 707-933-3010 or go to

Rose ranch: Garden Valley Ranch rose garden at 498 Pepper Road in Petaluma is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Self-guided and group tours are available. $2 to $10. Call 707-795-0919 or go to

Burbank’s home: The Luther Burbank Home at Santa Rosa and Sonoma avenues in Santa Rosa has docent-led tours of the greenhouse and a portion of the gardens every half hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. $7. Call 707-524-5445.

Olive ranch: McEvoy Ranch at 5935 Red Hill Road in Petaluma offers tips on planting olive trees and has olive trees for sale by appointment. Call 707-769-4123 or go to

Garden volunteers: Wednesdays are volunteer days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center at 15290 Coleman Valley Road in Occidental. Call 707-874-1557, ext. 201, or go to

Farming 101: Guido Frosini of True Grass Farms speaks about “Rejuvenating Grasslands” at 7 p.m. July 8 at the Petaluma Seed Bank at 199 N. Petaluma Blvd. in Petaluma. Free. Go to to register.

Botanical garden: Quarryhill Botanical Garden at 12841 Sonoma Highway in Glen Ellen covers 61 acres and showcases a large selection of scientifically documented wild source temperate Asian plants. The garden is open for self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. $5 to $10. Call 707-996-3166 or go to

Maple talks: “The Mid-Summer Maples Series,” with expert talks and discussions at 1 p.m. each day, is from July 11 through 13 at Wildwood Farm at 10300 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood. Call 707-833-1161 or go to

The Trowel Glove Calendar appears Saturdays. Send high-resolution jpg photo attachments and details about your event to or mail to Home and Garden Calendar/Lifestyles, Marin Independent Journal, 4000 Civic Center Drive, Suite 301, San Rafael, CA 94903. Items should be sent two weeks in advance. Photos should be a minimum of 2 megabytes and include caption information. Include a daytime phone number on your release.

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‘Learning Garden’ to be planted at Walsingham Academy

WILLIAMSBURG – Walsingham Academy plans to transform an under-utilized courtyard into a “learning garden,” an exciting place for students to discover nature and a peaceful spot to honor one of the school’s most loved leaders.

School administrators say the garden idea has its roots in a recent ceremony honoring Walsingham Academy president Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle, who recently celebrated her 50th year of service to the Sisters of Mercy.

“We thought, ‘What could we do that would be meaningful for Sister Mary Jeanne and meaningful for the children, because that’s really where her heart is?'” said Mary Johnston, Walsingham’s director of curriculum development. “At the same time, we wanted it to be an extension of our beautiful campus.”

The courtyard itself is a sunny space between the lower school cafeteria and the preschool, measuring about 125 feet by 200 feet. Contributions from faculty members will get the garden off the ground before summer’s end, Johnston said. She laid out a vision for what the garden could be: a seating area surrounded by flowers and trees, perhaps with an arbor, with raised beds and walkways and spaces dedicated to student projects – maybe even an area where a teacher could take a class for story time.

Johnston said the project will also benefit from the experiences of the school’s many faculty and staff members who already enjoy gardening and landscaping – including Jeff Frye, Walsingham’s director of facilities.

Frye said he has seen gardens in several other schools work very well, and said he looks forward to being a part of Walsingham’s garden. He said the school has an opportunity to show students how to interact with nature on a practical level.

“We have an area that has some good growth potential,” he said.

Johnston, herself a Walsingham graduate and former classroom teacher there, compared the project’s potential to a school garden cultivated across town at Matthew Whaley Elementary.

“It just makes sense,” she said. “If you want children to understand the world, then you need to bring nature into their lives in a very real way.”

The award-winning Matthew Whaley garden – dubbed “Mattey’s Garden” – has become a learning tool for the students, a source of pride for the school and even a relaxing place for the public to enjoy, according to the garden’s manager, Genrose Lashinger.

Lashinger said each grade is responsible for a certain area within it. The local Master Gardener organization helps with upkeep, and donations come from the Parent Teacher Association and other community members to support the garden’s monetary needs. Lashinger, who taught at the school for 34 years, said the students learn not just science and math concepts but also historical concepts, such as indigenous plants and Native American crops. Students have also looked to Mattey’s Garden for inspiration for art and poetry. The garden was commissioned in 1999 as a “Roots and Shoots” project that united children – the “shoots” – and adult mentors – the “roots” – together in nature. It features a pond, a pavilion, an herb garden and more.

“We call it our outdoor classroom … You can do almost anything,” Lashinger said. “The kids just love it. It’s so amazing to see children realizing that carrots come out of the ground instead of a plastic bag.”

Johnston said she hopes the Walsingham garden project will gain momentum once parents and community members see it start to take shape.

“Our parents are so interested in helping their children to grow … I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw people coming to us saying, ‘I’d like to donate this so that my child and my child’s classmates can experience this,'” Johnston said.

She added: “I have every belief that it will come together as it grows. Right now, we have what we need to get a nice start.”

Sampson can be reached at 757-345-2345.

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