March 2020 Newsletter

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"It's only when we operate with head and heart in harmony that we can achieve our true human potential."
- Dr. Jane Goodall
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Sustainable Solano - March 2020

Lemuria's Kristina Fink leads a workshop on winter fruit tree pruning. Kristina is also a participant in Sustainable Solano's Land and Water Caretakers certification course.

What's Growing 2020?

While the Spring Equinox is still weeks away, gardens around Solano County are already starting to unfurl leaves and flowers in the recent warm, dry weather. Even as we celebrate the riot of color, we are also working to help local residents, landscaping professionals and others build the skills and resources they need to capture rainwater and greywater and plan gardens with lower water demands to make their communities more resilient during such dry conditions.
Spring marks a busy time at Sustainable Solano, with garden design and installation workshops, cooking classes and other learning opportunities planned for this month even as we prepare for our annual Demonstration Food Forest Garden Tour in Benicia and Vallejo on April 25 and our first Bounty of the County event Aug. 29. We're seeking independent restaurants interested in participating in the chef competition during this celebration of local food. If you are a chef interested in sourcing local food, contact before March 30.
We hope you can join us at these and other events!


Calling Local Cooks!

Love to cook with fresh seasonal produce? Want to share your skills? As part of building public knowledge about the importance of buying local farm products and using specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, beans, tree nuts and culinary herbs, Sustainable Solano is seeking people passionate about teaching cooking to lead classes. Find out more here about this short-term, part-time position with a commitment of about two days a month.


Welcome to Our New Listening Circles Staff

This month we welcome two new team members who are expanding the work we do through our Listening Circles program. Welcome to Sierrah Abdul and Cameron Long!

Sierrah appreciates learning about others’ stories and perspectives. She understands that while not everyone has the same background, everyone’s voice is important. As Listening Circles Coordinator, she assists with organizing communities for meetings and documenting those meetings. In this position, along with her unique point of view, she aims to provide reliability, positive energy and support. Sierrah holds associate degrees in communication, liberal studies for elementary teacher preparation, social science and arts and humanities and a bachelor’s degree in communication. She is most likely to be found exploring new adventures and following her curiosity. Those interested can meet Sierrah at a nearby Listening Circle.


Cameron is excited to join Sustainable Solano in developing the urban forest throughout Solano County as Arborist. Raised in Sonoma County, Cameron spent much of his childhood exploring the oak woodlands and native plant communities of the North Bay. His love for the nature he grew up around inspired him to pursue a degree in Plant Sciences when he transferred to UC Davis in 2018. Since being at UC Davis, Cameron has developed a passion for urban forestry and sustainable landscaping. He currently leads horticulture projects across the campus, focusing on designing and implementing low-maintenance, water-wise, and mostly native gardens. His interest in urban forestry and landscaping stems from a passion for connecting people with nature. Developing thriving ecosystems within the cities that people live in can be accomplished through thoughtful urban green-space planning, and Cameron strives to be part of the solution.

Upcoming Events
Saturday, March 7

Redesign Basics: How to Design for the Expanding Food Forest Garden
1-4 pm, Register for Address, Benicia


Tour the Birds, Bees and Beyond demonstration food forest in Benicia and discuss the redesign, then help move plants. Permaculture designer David Mudge will give a guided tour of the existing established five-year-old food forest garden. This is a chance to see the wise water features: diverted roof water and laundry-to-landscape and branched-drain greywater systems. The house is expanding and so is the food forest. We will discuss the opportunities and challenges with the redesign and then as a community we will help move the existing plants to their new location. There will be some plant giveaways. Register here!


Saturday, March 14

Benicia Community Gardens Cleanup Day
9 am-12 pm, 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!

Wednesday, March 18

Farm-to-Table Cooking Class and CSA Tour

6-8 pm, Heritage Presbyterian Church, 1400 East Second St., Benicia


Join Sustainable Solano’s Local Food Program Manager Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan for a lively demonstration cooking class that celebrates spring ingredients and supports local farmers. Take a brief tour of the Community Supported Agriculture Center in Benicia, then 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, Sautéed Radishes and Spicy Quick-Pickled Vegetables. Generous tastings and recipe packets included! Registration required ($10 per person/$15 for two).


Thursday, March 19

Farm-to-Table Cooking Class

7-8:30 pm, Registration is Full, Benicia


Chef and Culinary Arts Instructor Lisa Núñez-Hancock will show how to take a mid-March CSA box from Eatwell Farm in Dixon and turn it into a delicious and nutritious vegetarian Colcannon. Join us and learn how to make this updated version of an Irish comfort food classic using local and seasonal vegetables. All participants will get to sample the dish, take home recipes and be entered into a raffle for an Eatwell Farm CSA box! Registration is full, so keep an eye out for more cooking classes!

Saturday, March 21

Benefits and Challenges of Chickens in the Garden and Tour of Food Forest
11 am-12:30 pm, Register for Address, Vacaville

Master Gardener Tina Saravia will discuss the garden benefits and challenges of keeping chickens. At the end of the talk you will get an opportunity to tour the Mangia food forest garden and see the wise water features and creative use of re-purposed items in the garden. After the tour you are invited to bring a dish to share at a lunch potluck. Learn more and register here.

Saturday, March 29

Demonstration Food Forest Garden Workshop
10 am-4 pm, Register for Address, Dixon

This public, hands-on installation workshop series will create a demonstration food forest garden in Dixon, creating an opportunity to learn about rainwater capture and how to plant and mulch for a waterwise garden that builds healthy soil and yields food. On this first day, learn how to create swales, which are trenches that capture rainwater in the ground, divert roofwater to those swales, plant trees and lay mulch to protect and build healthy soil. Register here!


Connect With Us


Swenson Garden, Benicia, 5-6 pm, Fridays in March

Meet with Program Manager Nicole Newell to ask questions about Sustainable Solano's work, sign garden agreements, plan for the April 25 garden tour or help out in the community garden!


What We're Learning


Heart-Based Leadership, Vacaville, March 12

A day-long intensive workshop for women on personal growth and development, being a heart-based leader, being authentic, speaking up, listening and bringing out the best in others.

Rethinking Nonprofits: Aligning Equity and Justice with Your Organizational Structure, Oakland, March 13
This training will explore how to infuse the governance, management, and operational practices of our organizations with our values of social, racial, gender, and ecological justice through the practice of deep democracy.




Design Workshop Guides Participants In Sustainable Garden Transformation

By: Kassie Munro and Nicole Newell, Program Managers

We are continually striving to find the best way to provide as many people as possible with the tools they need to transform their outdoor space into a more regenerative landscape, but we don’t have the capacity to install gardens for every interested homeowner. We created the Sustainable Garden Design Workshop with the hope that this resource can help get more people started with one of the most challenging parts of a landscape project — the design. The workshop provided an opportunity for attendees to be guided by a professional designer through the whole systems thinking design process with a focus on wise water management, soil health and permaculture elements. [Read more...]

Alliance Members Reflect, Connect to Deepen Local Food System Conversation
By: Kassie Munro, Program Manager

The Solano Local Food System Alliance held its first quarterly meeting of 2020 at the beginning of February to continue its collaborative effort to foster a strong local food system within the county. Alliance members began by reflecting on insights gathered during the October listening sessions, including the nuanced importance of building community health and community wealth, and the strong interest around developing robust farm-to-school programs.  [Read more...]


Save The Butterflies and The Bees — Our Favorite Pollinators Are in Jeopardy
By: Cristina Goulart
Originally published by the Russian River Watershed Alliance 

Sustainable Solano works to bring organic solutions that take a whole-systems approach to how we interact with the environment. That means encouraging the use of techniques that work with and support natural systems, which includes supporting those beneficial insects people love to attract to their gardens. These insects serve many roles, including pollinating plants and eating harmful insects. We wanted to share this blog post to highlight the importance of protecting our beneficial insects through the choices we make — including making the conscious decision to handle weeds or pests in our gardens through methods other than chemicals that have systemic effects on pollinators. [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

Rogue Radishes!
For March, we are sharing two radish recipes. Learn how to make Braised Radishes and Spicy Quick-Pickled Radishes. [Get the Recipe...]

April Preview


April 4, 10 am-4 pm, Demonstration Food Forest Garden Workshop: Understory and Drip (Register for Address, Dixon)

This public, hands-on installation workshop series will create “Pollinators Paradise,” a demonstration food forest garden in Dixon, creating an opportunity to learn about rainwater capture and how to plant and mulch for a waterwise garden that builds healthy soil and yields food. This day adds plants to the ecosystem as well as drip irrigation, and is an opportunity to see a yard transformed into a customized food forest based on permaculture design principles. Register here!

April 4, 11 am-12:30 pm, Farm-to-Table Cooking Class and CSA Demonstration (The Lazy Barn, 735 Texas St., Fairfield)

Join Sustainable Solano’s Local Food Program Manager Stephanie Oelsligle Jordan for a lively demonstration cooking class that celebrates spring ingredients and supports local farmers. Come see which Community Supported Agriculture offerings are coming soon to The Lazy Barn, plus learn tips and tricks for storing ingredients and cooking seasonally from a CSA box. Chef Steph will prepare an Asparagus Salad with Sesame-Tangerine Vinaigrette and Sautéed Radishes and highlight the health benefits of these Solano-grown specialty crops. Generous tastings and recipe packets included! Registration required ($10 per person/$15 for two).

April 18, 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!

April 25, 9 am-2 pm, Demonstration Food Forest Garden Tour (Gardens in Benicia and Vallejo, Tour starts at Avant Garden in Benicia)

Join us for Sustainable Solano’s annual spring Demonstration Food Forest Garden Tour in Benicia and Vallejo. Tour through a dozen private and public gardens that show what can be done to create edible, waterwise landscapes that support communities and provide natural habitat. The day will start with a talk from a permaculture expert before participants embark on the self-guided tour. Learn more and register here!


April 25, 8:45-11 am, 'Dig in Deeper' Private Garden Tour (Starts at Avant Garden in Benicia)

Join permaculture expert John Valenzuela for a bonus tour of a private garden as a special addition to the Benicia/Vallejo Demonstration Food Forest Garden Tour. Participants will attend John's public talk and then follow him to one of the demonstration food forest gardens for a guided tour of the property. John will discuss the secondary water features of this garden, the plant selection and placement and will answer questions from participants. Space is limited. Learn more and register here!


Stay Tuned!

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

Partners and Community Member Events


Bird of Prey Workshop and Hike at Rush Ranch
March 7, 10 am-2 pm, Solano Land Trust
Learn about eagles, hawks and falcons – the ways they fly, what they eat, where they hunt and rest, and why they migrate long distances or stay in one place all year. Check out other Solano Land Trust events this month here.

Year-Round Garden Planning Workshop
March 7, 11 am-1 pm, Grow a Pear Nursery, Vallejo
Learn what, how and when to start planting for a well-timed and productive year-round garden here in the Bay Area using organic methods. The workshop will cover propagation, companion planting, cover crops, perennials, what your soil needs to get through the year, preventing pests and diseases and drip irrigation. For all levels of gardener. Register here and learn about other workshops this month.

The Work That Reconnects: Courage for the Healing of Our World
March 13-15, Aptos 
Join Santa Cruz Permaculture for a transformational group process that builds motivation, connection, solidarity and vision, renewing the courage to act for the healing of our world. Through a series of creative and experiential exercises, The Work that Reconnects opens space for radical truth-speaking and personal and collective empowerment. Learn more and see other programs this month here.

Benicia’s Free Compost Giveaway hosted by Republic Services
March 14, 9 am-1 pm, East Second Street Public Parking Lot, Benicia
Supplement your soil in time for your spring vegetables. Bring your own container — five-gallon buckets work best — for up to 30 gallons per household. Bring a driver’s license for each household. Benicia residents only. Residents can also donate gently-used clothing, costume jewelry, house goods, bicycles, toys, and games to the Reuse Roundup to be distributed through Faith Food Fridays. Learn more here.

R&R in the Kitchen: Recipes & Lifestyle Tips for Relaxation & Healthy Sleep
March 14, 2 pm, John F. Kennedy Library, 505 Santa Clara St., Vallejo
Feeling stressed? Want to enjoy better sleep? Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to optimal health. Join Chef and Culinary Arts Instructor Lisa Núñez-Hancock at the JFK Library for this community workshop and learn tips for better sleep and recipes that will help you relax.

Drip Irrigation Basics
March 18, 6-8 pm, Florence Douglas Senior Center, 333 Amador St., Vallejo
Learn the basics of different types of irrigation systems and become familiar with key components in this class from the city of Vallejo. Focus is on drip irrigation design, component identification and best installation practices. This is the first of two workshops, with the second on water-wise plant selection.

'101 Ways To Go Zero Waste' Book Signing
March 22, 4 pm, Alibi Bookshop, 624 Marin St., Vallejo
In 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, Kathryn Kellogg, a Vallejo resident, shares tips and more, along with DIY recipes for beauty and home; advice for responsible consumption and making better choices for home goods, fashion, and the office; and even secrets for how to go waste free at the airport. “It’s not about perfection,” she says. “It’s about making better choices.” This signing is hosted by Cultivate Community Food Co-op.

Soil Health and Irrigation Water Management Workshop for Farms
March 27, 8 am-12:30 pm, Harry Price Training Room, 490 Chadbourne Road
A100, Fairfield

This workshop for farmers will talk about how to assess, improve and maintain soil health and how to improve irrigation water management.

Sweet Peas Garden Fair & Farmer’s Market
March 28, 9 am-3 pm, Sweet Pea's Boutique, Vacaville
Sweet Peas Garden Fair & Farmers Market will be filled with meeting and learning from your local farmers, growers, bakers, makers and friends. Featuring organic gardening, bee keeping, farming, raising backyard chickens, gluten free food options and more. Learn more here.

Santa Cruz Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course
April-September, Santa Cruz
Permaculture is an ethically based whole-systems design approach that uses concepts, principles and methods derived from ecosystems, nature-connected communities, and other time-tested systems to create human settlements and institutions. This certificate course meets one weekend a month for six months and includes the internationally recognized PDC curriculum. The course brings in leading designers and teachers from around the region, each experts in different areas of permaculture. The curriculum is augmented by an additional 38 hours of hands-on practice and field trips! Throughout the course, participants also work in teams to create a permaculture design of a local property.

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.

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

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