Olivewood Gardens is a gem hidden in National City. Originally built in the late 1800s, the Victorian home is surrounded by vast organic gardens and demonstration gardens for hosting cooking classes, nutrition classes, and gardening workshops. I helped Diana Bergman, program director, lead a workshop called Starting and Sustaining Your School Garden. I taught sections on watering, weeds, critters and curriculum. And I learned so much from the other participants — dedicated parents from schools, Farm to School leadership teams, Natural Resource Conservation District employees, and others. What a wonderful group of people! And Olivewood is a true paradise. Here’s a link to their website. http://www.olivewoodgardens.org
Cobb is an age-old building method using a mixture of mud (clay), sand, and straw as a binder (apparently it produces lactic acid as it ferments, which binds the minerals together). When I was in Africa as a college student, I lived for a few weeks with a Samburu family. One night it rained hard, and the grandmother in the family rushed out into the rain. I wondered what she was doing, and then discovered that she was taking advantage of the rain to repair her house, plastering the outside with a mud-dug, grass mixture. She was an expert in cobb building, like every Samburu woman.
Joe Kennedy is also an expert in cobb building. An architecture graduate of UC Berkeley with MA’s in architecture from SciArch — Southern California Institute of Architecture, and in Peace Studies from Notre Dame, Kennedy has built cobb structures all over the world. In this project, he is teaming with Patricia McCardle of Solar Cookers International, to try to create a durable solar cooker that can be built and used in refugee camps in Chad. McCardle is the editor of the Solar Cooker International journal, and a former member of the US diplomatic corps. She has brought solar cookers all over the world, and has observed the problems with a variety of the cookers in large camps: durability. Her idea and Kennedy’s expertise will hopefully solve that problem.
Yosemite’s high country is the perfect place to see every aspect of geology you can think of — from volcanoes and lava, to glaciation and melting. The rangers can explain it all!
Wild Willow Farm lies in the Tijuana River Valley, about 3/4 mile from the Mexican border, and 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The farm has a farm school, teaching suburbanites like me to farm organically. Experts in horticulture and permaculture are teaching our class of 20 urban refugees of all ages — from 19 to 55.
So far, we have built garden beds, harvested kale and collards for the farms CSA — Community Supported Agriculture — and transplanted seedlings, and cleared hoop
August in Yosemite’s Tuolomne Meadows, we found a high glacial tarn that was full of frogs. Everywhere we stepped, Pacific Tree Frogs hopped out of our way! And between rocks in the tarn were fat tadpoles. A thin ribbon snake slithered away through the rocks — doubtless, he was FULL of frogs. Later, a ranger told us that the reason this little lake had so many frogs while others had none was that this lake had no trout.