April 2020 Newsletter

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"Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "
- Paul Hawken

      Connect with us!

Sustainable Solano - April 2020

We're finding new ways to work and build community in the current environment

What's Growing 2020?

All of us at Sustainable Solano hope you are safe and well as we navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team members are adjusting to our new reality — connecting virtually, refocusing from public events and activities to a more reflective, deeper inquiry to the nature of our work and ways of strengthening the programs, teaching children at home, cooking, cleaning, learning to be with our loved ones around the clock, walking our own neighborhoods and trying to maintain a presence of mind and a strength of spirit in these challenging times. 

While our world has changed drastically in the past few weeks, we remain dedicated to supporting our communities. We've created an online Community Resilience page to share constructive, positive solutions with all of you. Let us know if you find a resource that helps you! We would love to share it with our communities.

We are seeking ways to offer inspiration — ways of finding strength and light from within, to connect with our higher self and see the good and beauty around us. The Community Resilience Resources include ways to get outdoors or take virtual tours from home — enjoy a concert or visit an art museum online or step outside and plant a Victory Garden. Aside from growing your own food, now is a good time to connect with your local farmers and the restaurants and retailers that support them. More than ever, we need to keep our local food system going strong.

We are also moving to bring you more ways to connect in a virtual space. Our annual Demonstration Food Forest Garden Tour & Talk will be conducted through an interactive online talk, garden tour video and Q&A session this year. We are scheduling online cooking classes using seasonal local ingredients, and finding ways to bring more of our demonstration food forest gardens to you through video tours. Stay tuned for more details. Don’t be surprised if you receive our newsletter updates a little more often in your inbox to keep you abreast of new offerings.

In challenging times, all things, good and bad, seem to amplify, and we see examples of both daily. We are inspired by the goodness and strength of so many people, and yet devastated to see many systems in distress. We hope that this unprecedented crisis will help us rethink our ways of living, to re-orient our societies towards a more resilient and regenerative worldview, and create a caring economy that works for everyone. Can we heal the Earth and all who suffer?

May you all be well and take care of each other!


—Elena Karoulina
Executive Director


"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Upcoming Events

We are reworking our in-person events to create online options. Check our calendar for upcoming events!

Friday, April 3

Plant Sale at Avant Garden
3-5 pm, Avant Garden, Corner of First and D streets, Benicia


Gather some plants for your spring garden! We'll have onions, kale, chard, parsley, collards and mustard greens. We will adhere to physical distancing and ask that you do the same to keep everyone safe. $3 per pot, cash only, please bring the exact amount.


Thursday, April 9

Farm-to-Table Virtual Cooking Class
4 pm, Register for a Zoom link

Join Sustainable Solano’s Local Food Program Manager Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan for a lively online demonstration cooking class that celebrates spring ingredients and supports local farmers. Learn tips and tricks for storing ingredients and cooking seasonally from a CSA box. Using Solano-grown specialty crops, Chef Steph will prepare a Spring Salad with Peas, Pistachios & Pecorino with Lemon Vinaigrette. Register here!


Saturday, April 18

Farm-to-Table Virtual Cooking Class
11 am, Register for a Zoom link

Join Sustainable Solano’s Local Food Program Manager Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan for a lively online demonstration cooking class that celebrates spring ingredients and supports local farmers. Learn tips and tricks for storing ingredients and cooking seasonally from a CSA box. Using Solano-grown specialty crops, Chef Steph will prepare an Asparagus Salad with Sesame-Tangerine Vinaigrette. Register here!


Saturday, April 25

Virtual Demonstration Food Forest Garden Tour & Talk
10-11:45 am, Register for Zoom link

Join us for Sustainable Solano's first virtual demonstration food forest garden tour!
Start with a live informative talk from leading local permaculture expert John Valenzuela of Cornucopia Food Forest Gardens. John will cover permaculture and explore how permaculture follows nature as a guide in the garden, our communities and beyond.
We'll then share a video tour of one of our demonstration food forest gardens that shows what can be done to create edible, waterwise landscapes that support communities and provide natural habitat. There will be time at the end for a Q&A with John.
This event will help kick off a series of virtual video tours of gardens from throughout the county. Register here!



What We're Learning


City Repair and Reclaiming the Public Commons

We recently had a chance to talk with Mark Lakeman, co-founder of The City Repair Project in Portland, about the work of inspiring community-led projects. Enjoy this video of his TEDxSantaCruz talk on "Badass Democracy: Reclaiming the Public Commons."



Connect and Reflect with Sustainable Solano

By: Allison Nagel, Communications Manager

Sustainable Solano is seeking ways to share what inspires us within our local community. Our team, volunteers, Food Forest Keepers and others in the community are sharing how they are finding ways to connect with each other and the earth during this time while finding time for reflection. See what we're up to here and share what you're doing. [Read more...]


What Would Love Do?
By: Nicole Newell, Sustainable Landscaping Program Manager

March 12 was the first day that the collective unease of the coronavirus was on everyone’s mind. I arrived at the Heart Based Leadership workshop and was greeted by a Be Love sign, which made me smile. This daylong intensive workshop for women on personal growth and development wasn’t cancelled.Heart-based leadership on the surface seems light-hearted — rainbows and unicorns. These workshops always end up being much deeper than expected.  [Read more...]

Stocking Your Pantry for Uncertain Times
By: Lisa Núñez-Hancock, Culinary Arts Instructor

Whether it is fire season, an earthquake, a pandemic, the busy pace of life, or unexpected guests, it is always a good idea to have a well-stocked pantry of healthy, nonperishable items on hand. Eating healthy foods, maintaining a good gut microbiome, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress are all important to optimum health. Here's a list of staples to keep on hand and ways to find them locally.  [Read more...]


On the Fifth Anniversary of Our Garden
By: Nam Nguyen, Food Forest Keeper

The wonga wonga is in bloom, reminding me with its bunches of cream trumpet blossoms that despite what our personal or communal pandemic worries are, spring is upon us. And that I had to take a moment to appreciate that the Food Forest that you all helped install is coming to its own. Why, it’s old enough to take off to Kindergarten. Or in its case, Gartengarten. And take off it has. [Read more...]


‘The Happiest Little Farmers’: An Update From Oklahoma
By: Kathleen Huffman

Sustainable landscaping designer Kathleen Huffman left Solano County in 2019 to return to her family farm in Oklahoma. Kathleen sends this update, reflecting how those seeds planted here in Solano have grown in her work back home. [Read more...]


Recipe Spotlight

As part of promoting Solano County's specialty crops, we will share a new delicious recipe each month that highlights the bounty of Solano County's local produce. Have a favorite recipe we should include? Share it with us at

Asparagus Salad with Sesame-Tangerine Vinaigrette
For April, check out this recipe that highlights asparagus at the peak of its season even as it incorporates end-of-season citrus. [Get the Recipe...]

Community Resources


Community Resilience Resources
Sustainable Solano has created a list of helpful resources including food and other assistance, ways to get outdoors, ways to help and sources of inspiration. Check it out and send us other resources we should consider to

Volunteer and Help Others
Volunteers are still needed. Find ways to safely volunteer and help out in your community here. You can also connect with neighbors online.

Find Assistance
Learn how to apply for unemployment, disability and paid family leave and other assistance here. Also find links to assistance for small businesses and small farms here.

Food Assistance
Here's where to find free meals for children age 18 and younger in English and in Spanish.

Solano County parks and Solano Land Trust public access properties
Starting March 27, these parks are closed to the public. Click here for more information.

Plant Nurseries
Many are staying open, some with adjusted hours and plant availability. Find the latest here and check in with them for more information. Read this partner blog from Harmony Organics on how they're partnering with an area business to make more plants available.

Restaurants and Retailers
Restaurants and retailers that source locally have had to adjust hours and many have added products and services to support social distancing. Here is a list of some local restaurants and retailers. Check with them on what they are offering.

Local Farms
Local farms continue to deliver produce through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and at farm stands and farmers markets. Here's what some local farms have available. Many have been overwhelmed by recent demand and have CSA waiting lists. Check with the farms for the latest information.

Learn More
Many of our partner organizations are creating virtual programs, such as the 'Designing for Distaster' Zoom presentation with John Valenzuela and David Shaw from Santa Cruz Permaculture from 7-8:30 pm April 8. The class is based on Rosemary Morrow’s 'Earth Users Guide to Permaculture,' and followed by an activity to design strategies for making your home and communities more resilient and secure. You can register here.


We're always looking for insight from partner organizations and small businesses to share through partner blogs or in our newsletters. Want to share what you're doing? Contact us at

May Preview

Note: Please check on our website closer to the dates of these events as all are subject to change as the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation changes.

May 7, Solano Local Food System Alliance Meeting

The Solano Local Food System Alliance will hold its quarterly meeting to review progress and set upcoming goals for its work to create an environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just and equitable local food system in Solano County. Find out more about the Alliance’s work here.

May 16, 9 am-12 pm, Benicia Community Gardens Cleanup Day (Avant and Swenson gardens, Benicia)
It is not required that you have a box at either garden; everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate. If you have a garden bed, this is the perfect opportunity to contribute volunteer hours. For those who don’t have a garden bed, it’s a good chance to see how it all works and sign up for a garden bed! Cleanup activities will include weeding and prepping garden beds, among other activities. More details here!

Stay Tuned!

We'll be announcing upcoming dates for cooking classes, workshops and the next Vallejo Resilient Neighborhood! Check our calendar for upcoming workshops.

Want to engage? Be creative?
If you are a blogger, photographer, or just interested in volunteering, please join in! If you are interested supporting a sustainable future in Solano County, let's talk at 

Something to share? 
Newsletter deadlines are the 3rd Friday of the month. Please email to


Sustainable Solano's website has information about our exciting programs, upcoming events, and other community news.

Go to to check it out.

Copyright © 2020 Sustainable Solano, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Sustainable Solano
PO Box 1215
Benicia, CA 94510

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