Spring Has Sprung in the Garden!

AND A NEW YEAR OF GROWING IS UNDERWAY!

PLEASE MEET OUR 2017 CROP OF VOLUNTEERS

WHO ARE READY TO…

TBG Opening Day 2017 – Version 2

CUT DOWN COVER CROPS THAT WERE GROWN IN THEIR

BEDS OVER THE WINTER MONTHS…

Cut Cover Crops

WITH SO MANY NITROGEN-FIXED ROOTS,

EVEN OUR COMPOSTING BINS RECEIVED SOME.

HERE THE VOLUNTEERS ARE LISTENING TO

BILLI HAUG, OUR COMPOSTING INSTRUCTOR,

DISCUSS THE INCREDIBLE BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING…

Composting Workshop 2017

THE FOLLOWING WEEKEND, WE ENJOYED OUR

SEEDLING SEMINAR WITH LOCAL MASTER GARDENER,

CAROL ROSSI.  WITH EVERYONE SO EAGER TO

PUT THEIR SEEDLINGS IN THE BEDS, CAROL HAD

A REAL CHALLENGE CONVINCING US NOT TO

PLANT UNTIL THE SOIL REACHED AT LEAST 60 DEGREES!

AND THEN, IT WAS!

AND THE REAL FUN BEGAN…

TWO LOCAL GIRL SCOUT TROOPS

ARE JOINING US IN THE GARDEN THIS YEAR.

HERE ARE THE DARLING DAISIES (TROOP 32005) …

Daisy Troop 2017

AND OUR LOVELY GIRL SCOUTS (TROOP 32467)…

Version 2

…WHO ARE ALSO OUR NEW “COMPOST SPRITES,”

HELPING EACH WEEK TO TURN AND WATER THE

COMPOST BINS!

Our first Compost Sprites!

 TO CAP OFF OUR START TO SPRING,

WE ENJOYED A LOVELY EVENING IN THE GARDEN…

…TOGETHER…

SHARING WINE, SNACKS AND STORIES ABOUT

OUR PLANTING ADVENTURES, BUT ESPECIALLY ENJOYING

AN INTRIGUING PRESENTATION ON THE TOPIC OF

“ECOTHERAPY”

WITH DARLENE DEROSE OF THE

CONTRA COSTA MASTER GARDENERS’ ASSOCIATION.

HER WORDS INSPIRED ALL OF US TO SPEND

AS MUCH TIME AS WE CAN IN NATURE AND WITH

OUR ELBOWS DEEP IN OUR GARDEN BEDS…

Social 4:1:17

WE HOPE YOU ARE ALSO ENJOYING A

LOVELY START TO SPRINGTIME IN YOUR

OWN GARDENS!

THE HIVE

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Happy New Year!

hive-holiday-wishes-to-you

From the Hive and the Bounty Garden,

we send you our best wishes for a very happy 2017!

We hope this year in the garden brings you

joy and peace.

~~~~~~~~

So how did 2016 end in the Garden?

With the beautiful combination of rain and sun last year, the Bounty Garden produced a bumper crop for the Food Banks of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.  Even as Summer turned into Autumn, the beds continued to produce late harvests like these…

maryanns-radishes

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As well, with the Autumn leaves falling, we began to look forward to our 2017 composting program.  With the help of the John Baldwin School’s Girl Scout Daisy Troop #31429, we stocked them up until our Leaf Bin was overflowing!

Version 2

the-leaf-bin-fills

Now, we are just weeks from the start of the 2017 program.  Each bed was sown with clover cover crop seeds at the close of last season and …

cover-crops-growing

…each bed now stands ready to be tilled in with the incredibly nutrient-rich clover.  This will give a big boost to the many wonderful and varied crops our 2017 volunteers will grow to supply the Food Bank with nutritious and delicious vegetables throughout next year.

As this Winter turns into Spring, we hope to see you in the Park.  Please do stop by the Garden and see what is sprouting up!

Best wishes,

The Hive

“C” is for “Colors” as well as…

Colors

Fall has arrived and along with the changing weather outside comes such beautiful colors, simply illustrated by this tower of tomatoes grown here at the Bounty Garden.

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These beauties were nurtured by our Volunteer, tomato “whisperer” Min Kuo, who has been with the Bounty Garden every year since its inception.  Min has a very special sense for how to grow exquisite tomatoes and he leaves us in awe every season. We owe such a large debt of gratitude to Min for showing us how to grow tomatoes through hot, dry or wet summers!

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Community

While supporting the many important efforts of the Food Bank, the Garden also provides a place for gardeners of every kind to join in the adventure of growing so many nutritious and delicious types of vegetables.  Some volunteers are completely new to the process of growing their own vegetables, others are reviving methods that their parents or grandparents taught them, and still others may have been tending to their own home gardens for decades.  We all enjoy knowing that we can always be of help to or seek help from a fellow volunteer!

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Ken Hazleton, whose bed we followed this season, is seen here cleaning it in preparation for planting his cover crop seeds.  He and his wife, Barbara, grew the most beautiful cucumbers from seed this season…in soil blocks that they made themselves!  It was an inspiring experiment that we’re sure others will want to repeat.

Contribution

In September, Bounty Garden volunteers and Hive members joined up for an annual trip to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

Field Trip Coordinator Janet Howes says, “It is always fun to see where our veggies go and the phenomenal effort this Food Bank puts forward.”

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Photo of Bounty Garden volunteers at Food Bank sign

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Volunteers Zuzana Foster (l) and Janet Howes (r) were all smiles helping sort and package fresh produce during the visit and building friendships through volunteering.             

Competition 

While our plants were busy competing for their most beautiful harvests this Fall, the Bounty Garden also entered some friendly competition…Sloats Nursery’s “Most Ugly or Interesting Vegetable Contest.”

Lucky for us, this bunny-shaped tomato popped up in the bed of Volunteers Cyndy Cotton, Janis Blaise and Vicki Glockner just at the right time and jumped right into Junior Volunteer June Day’s hands to take FIRST PRIZE!

june

And fun, too, that the Garden’s logo is ………….a bunny!

Camaraderie

The Bounty Garden sends a big thank you to the local Blackhawk Bloomers!  This enthusiastic group of gardening pals made a wonderful donation to assist the Garden in installing its new Butterfly Garden this year. In the Summer, they joined Founder Heidi Abramson for a tour at the Garden to see first hand the results of the butterflies’ and bees’ hard work!  As upcoming volunteer gardeners in 2017, we look forward to growing vegetables and friendships with this group who loves the pollinators.

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The Blackhawk Bloomers visit the Bounty Garden

Closure

As we say goodbye to our 2016 gardening friends and look forward to our 5th year in the Bounty Garden, we say BRAVO to a community that prioritizes helping others, and in our case those are the food-insecure in Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

After a wonderful 2016 program, we are putting the vegetable beds in resting and replenishing mode.  Thank you, Volunteers, for tending to your beds, adding nutrients to the soil and seeding with cover crops to add nitrogen and growing power for next year’s volunteers.  We couldn’t do it without you, nor would we have nearly as much fun!

fall-peas

We look forward to seeing you in February!

The Hive

Cool Summer Mornings in the Garden…

There’s something so special about a cool, quiet Garden morning with a robust harvest season ahead……

Hello Summer!

At The Bounty Garden, our once fragile April seedlings are now vigorous, happy plants heading for harvest.  Below is just one example of the unbelievable growth our beds have had in the past three months…attributable to the loving attention shown by such hands-on, caring volunteers!

The Lofy Family makes growing a family-affair! In April, when they planted their bed…

The Lofy Family at planting

…they chose to plant cherry tomatoes specifically so the children could enjoy the fun of harvesting them…

…and now it’s time to begin!

Lofys' 7/2/16

 

It is just midway through our growing season, but we have already been rewarded with almost 1,000 pounds of fresh, organic food to donate to the programs of the Contra Costa and Solano County Food Bank.  Some of the earlier-maturing crops this Spring went directly to the Manna Hot Meals program in Concord, one of the Food Bank-supported programs, so that it would enter the food chain as quickly and as freshly as possible. That first delivery has resulted in a relationship with their kitchen which is very rewarding.  Now each week, both The Food Bank and Manna Hot Meals make pick ups at The Garden to ensure that our fresh organically-grown veggies are enjoyed at the peak of their nutritional value.

Stories We Like To Hear

In March, The Bounty Garden delivered arm loads of fresh spinach to The Manna Ministries in Concord. Manna Ministries hosts a soup kitchen every Thursday evening and a food pantry on Saturday mornings in Concord at Concord Christ Community Church of the Nazarene.

Volunteer cook, Sandra Navarro, said, “We were so glad to know ahead of time so we could decide how to use the gorgeous spinach that same day.”

According to Director Janelle Stewart, “We call it Manna Hot Meals because we don’t just serve soup.  We offer a delicious and nutritious well-rounded dinner each Thursday.  Our Hot Meals are prepared by some amazing cooks.  Currently we have three main volunteers that come once or twice a month to cook the meals for us.”

 

Louise with Spinach

Our Harvest Coordinator, Louise Platt,

with the harvest crates going to Manna Hot Meals

 

We’ve welcomed many lovely visitors to the Garden this past Spring…

In April, the Athenian School in Danville came by to offer a helping hand in recognition of their annual Tim Holm Day of Service.  Led by their headmaster, Eric Niles, a robust group came to the Garden and gave our Barn a brand new coat of white paint. We are so grateful for their hard work and their bright smiles!

Eric and his team hard at work

Eric Niles and his happy team paint the Barn.

 

In May, Girl Scout Troop #33752 had a lovely surprise for the Garden!  After collecting recycling in their homes and turning it in at the Walnut Creek recycling center, the Troop presented the Garden with the proceeds.  We were so touched by their gesture and the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into it.  While visiting the Garden on May 11th, the troop dug deep into a compost pile to discover what lives inside.  It was good fun!

Daisy Troop 5:11:16 Girl Scout Troop #33752

Connecting through the Town of Danville Senior Center, we also enjoyed sharing the Garden program with more than 30 Danville area seniors in May.  The group listened to the story of how the Garden began and what we are aspiring to do in 2016.  Following the presentation and tour, Danville historian Beverly Lane continued the day with a walking history tour of Hap Magee Ranch Park.

We continue to strive to learn in our little organic garden…

…and this summer that included an education in how to attract more birds, bees and other beneficial wildlife to pollinate the Garden and thereby increase our harvests.  Thanks to a generous donation from the Blackhawk Bloomers Garden Club, we now have a pollinator garden installed in a central location to the beds!

Trenches

 Hive member Eric Schneider and volunteer SRVHS Senior Kevin Madsen put a lot of muscle into digging trenches and installing the irrigation lines to the new pollinator garden. 

Pollinators Meanwhile, Hive members Amelia Abramson and Marilynn Gray-Raine put their muscles into digging ample holes for the new pollinator-attracting plants.

With the new garden in place, we look forward to even more bountiful crops for the Food Bank!  

We are enjoying a wonderful growing season in the Garden and invite you to stop by if you are visiting the Park.

We wish you a beautiful summer,

The Hive

Spring is here!

Oh boy, it’s Springtime at last and we are so excited to launch into our fourth year in The Bounty Garden with all 32 beds ready to produce bountiful harvests for the Food Bank.  With the beautiful rains that have graced us this season, the Garden is humming with birds, bees, garden volunteers and ready soil.

In preparation for the Garden’s new and returning volunteers, Hive members rolled up their sleeves for an annual day of Barn Love…

Eric Schneider put final touches on our new deer barriers, while…

Eric with Deer Barriers

Janet Howes put her painting skills to use,

Janet with Bucket

Kathy Torru gave the leaf bin a big boost of leaves, and

Kathy with Leaves

Kellee Reed raked just about everything in sight!

Kellee with Rake

Ready!

On February 27th, The Bounty Garden held its 2016 “Opening Day.”  Volunteers met for the first time, learning about how the Garden works and picking their bed numbers for the season. Opening Day concluded with each gardener selecting which vegetable(s) they want to learn about and grow for the benefit of the many programs supported by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

And so we are off and running…

The following weekend, composting expert, Billi Haug from the Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority, filled the Barn to capacity with both Bounty Garden volunteers and public visitors. Billi explained the basics and the not-so-basics of composting and fielded many interesting questions on topics ranging from “Can you compost with pine needles?” to “How do I best raise red wiggler worms?”  And Billi’s sage advice for those anxious to get composting in the late Winter?  “Go shopping and wait until Spring comes around.”

Composting Workshop 2

On Saturday, March 19th, the Garden hosted its Seedling Workshop.  Our garden guru/instructor, Carol Rossi, had an eager group of gardeners ready to learn all that they could about how to best grow or purchase their specific seedlings.  It was an information-packed two hours and everyone left with a burning desire to get their hands in the soil!

This month, we will see seedlings, both purchased and home-started, popping up everywhere in The Bounty Garden. Thanks to the green thumbs of our volunteers, the Garden beds are filling with vigorous organically-grown seedlings and visions of plentiful harvests.

Two such green-thumbed volunteers are Barbara and Ken Hazleton.  Following the Seedling Seminar, they decided to put the advice they’d been given to the test.  Not only did they grow their own cucumber and tomato starts, they even made the soil blocks in which the seedlings grew!  How was the experience?  “We are experimenting with starting in regular pots and soil blocks.  The soil blocks are a little tricky to figure out at first since the ratio of ingredients needs to be more exact but they seem to be working.  Soil blocks are popular especially in Europe.”  Here is a photo of the beautiful set up they built in their garage in which to grow their healthy vegetable starts:Barbara and Ken

and one of their cucumbers starts grown in a soil block:

Hazleton's Seedlings grown in their own soil blocks at home

As the season progresses, “Fresh from the Garden” will stop by the Hazleton’s bed and show you how their homegrown vegetable starts are doing… or you might want to stop by Bed #4 and take a peek yourself!

And while you are in the Garden, please come take a look at Bed #11. In true community spirit, the Girl Scouts came in full force for their orientation on March 2nd.  Bed #11 has nothing to worry about with the enthusiastic group of girls of Junior Girl Scout Troop #32568 and their troop leaders nurturing its harvests.  Look for beautiful cucumbers and tomatoes later this summer.

Junior GS Troop 32568

We hope you are enjoying the start of what looks like a wonderful growing season ahead!  With such a positive and energetic group of volunteers, we are excited to see and to show you the the fruits (well, actually ‘vegetables’) of their labor at The Bounty Garden.

Until then, we wish you the very best,

The Hive

 

 

 

Happy New Year

 

Thank You, 2015!

While the drought brought unique challenges to the Garden in 2015, it was also a year of valuable lessons and confirmed commitments to providing a consistent source of fresh organic produce to the Food Bank’s immensely important food network.

Looking back, 2015 was destined to be a challenging year for all gardeners in Northern California. Unseasonably warm days dominated our normally cool months and thwarted the growth of tender young seedlings. The young plants that survived were then greeted with bouts of rain, just as their flowers were beginning to set. The flowers that were able to set and develop fruit were met with harsh high temperatures, low water allocations, and hungry critters coming down from the hills in search of food and water. All in all, it was a challenge to grow each and every beautiful, nutritious crop.

These less-than-desirable conditions, however, nurtured a desire to develop new program elements at the Bounty Garden to help lessen the dramatic effects of future unpredictable weather patterns on our harvest totals. Should the drought conditions continue…we realized that the water retention capability of the soil in our beds is critically important. The addition of our on-site compost and chopped leaves from our new leaf bin (constructed in December 2014 by Danville Eagle Scout Dashiell Miner, Troop #223) will aid our soil tremendously in its ability to store and use moisture. When the Park’s leaves began to fall in October, two wonderfully enthusiastic Girl Scout troops filled our new leaf bin to overflowing and helped us to ensure that 2016 volunteers will have ample leaf mold with which to amend their beds.

Daisies under leaves

(Daisy Troop #31523 – celebrating their hard work on October 14, 2015)

GS Troop 30678 leaves

(Girl Scout Troop #30678 – horsing around on October 24, 2015)

The second large program addition in 2015 that was developed in response to our drought was the building of semi-permanent deer barriers around each raised bed in the Garden. Even in normal years, as hot seasonal temperatures deplete the food and water sources in the natural areas surrounding our communities, more wild animals (especially deer) venture into our neighborhoods in search of sustenance. In one night, a whole season’s crop can be destroyed. Starting in 2016, Bounty Garden volunteers will no longer need to rush to the Garden in response to surprise visits from hungry or thirsty deer and other wild critters. Each bed now has a removable hardy net surrounding it that is easy to remove when a gardener wants to work on his or her bed, but not so easy for a grazing deer or burrowing raccoon to work around! And for an added benefit, the permanent posts will very nicely act as supports for our sunshades when the temperatures escalate.

Deer Barriers and a Full Leaf Bin

(Our new deer barriers, November 2015)

With our new deer barriers in place, cover crops having been grown to improve the nutrients in our soil, leaves and compost ready for furthering enriching the soil, we feel prepared and excited to see what the new year ahead will bring! We hope it will be overflowing with nutritious and delicious crops for the Food Bank, as well as happy and fulfilled volunteers who have so graciously given of their time and energy to improve the lives of those in our community who may not have had enough in 2015. With gratitude in our hearts, we wish everyone a joyous and bountiful New Year.

The Hive

 

How Does the Garden Grow?

With relationships

At The Bounty Garden, we are fortunate to have the National Charity League onboard as volunteer growers. These special mother/daughter relationships continue to help the Garden grow. They work together from the beginning decision about what vegetable to grow, right down to the final harvest.

NCL Bed 19 - by Nancy and Lauren Huen

This Summer, Nancy Huen and her daughter, Lauren, grew a surprising crop of purple tomatoes! Though they were counseled to not harvest or taste these beauties until they ripened, they were a delight to witness.   Nancy shared, “The opportunity to be with my daughter was a gift. I am so happy that she heard The Bounty Garden story and I hope this experience will be an inspiration for her to continue working in her community.”

Beth

And purple seemed to be the color this Summer! Volunteer Beth was all smiles as she harvested purple peppers. “I didn’t realize they were going to be purple when I planted them,” she said. “This is so fun.”

With the passing seasons

CC1 Harvest Wksp

This Winter, Hive member Louise Frederrickson and her Grandson Max had a good time with their cool season crop of lettuces in Bed #31. Later in the Spring, their same bed offered up a hearty crop of onions. It is fun to see the seasons pass and the continuing bounty each carefully cared for vegetable bed produces. And in this case, we get to watch Max grow, too!

WC Harvest Wkshp

With a watchful eye

At TBG, we keep a watchful eye on practices that bring the best harvests. Currently, we are experimenting with cover crops to help naturally return nutrients to the soil and encourage high crop yields for The Food Bank.

This Summer you’ll see our first cover crop of Red Cow Peas growing in many of the beds.

Cover Crops at 3 Weeks

The peas have been treated with inoculants which “fix” nitrogen to their roots. In the Fall, when we till in these roots, this nutrient will be returned to the soil and the vegetables’ growth and nutrient value should benefit.

Cover Crop Innoculant

Watch for more information about our adventures in growing cover crops in our Fall update.  Until then, we hope you have a wonderful remainder of your Summer!

The Hive

Spring Has Sprung

Early Spring Radishes

Early Spring Radishes

If you take a peek in the Bounty Garden’s vegetable beds at this time of year, you will see that both Spring and Fall vegetables are springing up! The Spring-Cool Season crops like spinach, chard, lettuce, beets, carrots and radishes are maturing rapidly now and these multicolored vegetables will find their way into the Food Bank’s network of pantries and distribution points within two days after leaving The Bounty Garden.

DAGC Volunteer harvesting their first crops!

DAGC Volunteer harvesting her bed’s first crops!

This season, members of the Danville Alamo Gardeners’ Club have joined as volunteers and we are so happy to have their green thumbs working along with us.

Last month, our Composting Workshop featured lecturer Billi Haug from the Contra Costa County Solid Waste Authority who shared her vast experience in composting with current volunteers and members of the public. Full of enthusiasm and information, Billi visits each growing season to educate new and returning volunteers about the different methods of composting and the importance of feeding your soil.

We feel especially grateful to have Billi as a part of our team this year because the Garden is currently exploring alternative methods for meeting the growing nitrogen/green needs of our expanding composting program. Due to California’s current drought conditions, many sources of fresh green clippings have disappeared, and the Hive is evaluating such alternatives as growing cover crops or using alfalfa meal to supplement the greens in our “green-brown” composting system. We look forward to finding ways to both increase the amount of crops we can harvest for the Food Bank while also maintaining the nominal amount of water used in the Garden.

There is always a new and wonderful challenge to meet in all our gardens, and we invite you to come in and share your approaches or ask us about ours.

We hope you are enjoying a beautiful start to Springtime in your garden,

The Hive

With Gratitude

As we closed the garden gates on 2014, The Bounty Garden now has two years under its belt and we send our thanks to the wonderful people who have given their time and smiles to make it the happy, bountiful garden that it is.  In 2014, the vegetables grew and so did we. The Garden’s volunteers proudly contributed over 3500 pounds of organic fresh vegetables to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties… including everything from leafy greens to bountiful root vegetables.

CarrotsBesides the lovely greens, something else sprouted up in the Garden, too. We now have a new leaf bin. Thanks to Eagle Scout candidate, Dashiell Miner, corralling leaves for our composting program is now much easier. We send a big thank you out to Dash for his contribution to The Bounty Garden which both helps us in our composting effort as well as in diminishing our need for plastic leaf bags.

In addition, we would like to express our thanks the Athenian High School for their bi-annual workdays in the Garden. An active, enthusiastic group of students comes twice each year to assist us with the “heavy lifting” which includes such projects as distributing mulch on our pathways, digging new trenches to divert water away from the Barn, and wheel barrowing loads of fresh organic soil into our new beds. They are an inspiration and we so appreciate their help.

Athenian Crew Assists the BG

As our rested vegetable beds head into the 2015 planting seasons, we wonder what lessons Mother Nature will teach us this year or, for that matter, what our new volunteers will teach us. Already, our new team in Cool Crop 1 is posing insightful and delightful questions.

The Hive looks forward to a bountiful 2015 and to a new year of working alongside our wonderful volunteers who come together to support the programs of the Contra Costa Food Bank.

Happy New Year,  The Hive

We’ve Had a Growth Spurt!

The Bounty Garden is happy to announce that we’ve had a growth spurt. Earlier this summer, we were fortunate to be able to add eight more vegetable beds to the Garden, bringing our total number of beds to 32!

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With a full roster of volunteers, there was room to grow. The additional beds offer “The Hive,” the Garden’s management team, an opportunity to plant continuously without taking away spaces away from community volunteers.

There is now room for all!

With most generous donations from John Montgomery Landscape Architecture and The Danville–Alamo Gardening Club, the new beds received the same tender loving care as our original beds. They were again constructed using rough, chemical-free redwood and filled with the same organic soil that has been producing such plentiful harvests thus far.

And the best part is……as we grow, our bounty grows, too.

Last year, The Bounty Garden donated over 3000 pounds of fresh vegetables to The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Fingers crossed, we will easily top that this year with 32 hardworking beds:

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The Bounty Garden is 100% non-profit and structured to run on a minimal budget. We cannot thank the Danville Alamo Gardening Club and John Montgomery Landscape Architecture enough for their generous donations that nurtured our growth spurt!