Farm & Orchard

A 5-Acre food forest | 15 Minutes from DownTown Oakland

 

We have lots of work to do as summer unfolds on the farm in El Sobrante.  With more than 400 trees now planted on-contour in earthscape features called swales - we are now focused on supporting those trees and planting fruiting shrubs in between rows.  We're approaching the incredible milestone of having 1,000 varieties of edible plants in the soil in El Sobrante!  Come help - we can absolutely use your energy and help in making these trees as happy and healthy as possible.

Farm Volunteer Schedule

We are having volunteer days EVERY Thursday and Friday on the farm - unless otherwise posted.  Weekend opportunities are limited to one Saturday per month.  This page will be regularly so that you may stay up to date on what we have done, and what we will be doing by simply checking back here often.  Bookmark this page.

Here are the upcoming volunteer days.  Let us know you are coming - please RSVP in advance!  

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Thursday, August 18th

Friday, August 19th

Saturday, August 20TH

Thursday, August 25th

FRIDAY, AUGUST 26TH

THURSDAY, September 1st

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd

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Weekday Morning Session:  9am to Noon

Weekday Afternoon Session:  1pm to 4pm

Weekend Sessions: 10am to 1pm

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Complete the volunteer form below including the date(s) you plan to attend.  

 

We will send parking and meet up instructions to you once you've signed up.  Please arrive on time or early.  If you show up late, please don't expect to get a personalized introduction to the days activities or to the rest of the volunteers. Latecomers may have to fit in where they can - grab a tool similar to what others are using - and get the download from another volunteer on how to help.  We eat lunch for 30 minutes between sessions.  You can definitely sign up for both sessions and stay the whole day with us - we like that.

Please bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and a lunch if you plan to eat between working sessions.  Wear a hat, gloves, sturdy shoes and long pants.  There is poison oak on the property; while it is limited to certain areas (and we're working to remove it entirely) it is best to be covered for protection.

 

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TASKS ahead

  • Continue planting understory shrubs
  • Master valve and flow metering in place
  • Plan + Design a solar system
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Work Log

July

  • Irrigation up and running!
  • Continue planting understory shrubs

  • Move remainder of nursery operation to East Oakland.

JUNE

  • Move nursery plants and materials to east oakland
  • Fine-tune irrigation for fruit trees
  • Weeding, mulching, and general tree care

 MAY

  • Begin planting remaining fruit trees and understory
  • Weeding + mulching
  • Fertilizing & cultivating
  • Nursery work
    • Grafting
    • re-potting last years plants
    • start remaining seeds

ApriL

  • Weeding + mulching
  • Fertilizing & cultivating
  • Nursery work
    • Grafting
    • re-potting last years plants
    • start remaining seeds

MARCH

  • Digging up thistle
  • Weeding around fruit trees
  • Fertilizing & cultivating
  • Nursery work
    • Grafting
    • potting on
    • healing in
    • mixing soil

FEBRUARY

  • Continued planting trees
  • Support nursery propagation.
  • Put up hoop houses for nursery plants
  • Plans laid for future medicinal gardens
  • Huge amounts of potting soil mixed 
  • Propagated nearly 10,000 trees and shrubs from cuttings - taken in Humbolt, processed on the farm, and moving to East Oakland nursery

JANUARY

  • Began nursery operations on the farm, potting on tens of thousands of young fruit bearing plants
  • Mulch swale pathways with wood chips
  • Mulch swale berms around trees
  • Wiring of irrigation system to central timer
  • Got lots of rain, infiltrated deeply by our swales.

 

2015

DECEMBER

  • Built shelving in the shed for vertical organizing
  • Retrieve enormous fruit tree order from Rolling River Nursery
  • Final assembly of irrigation manifolds
  • Elevate poly drip lines on wire above swales
  • Begin planting trees!

NOVEMBER

  • (90% Complete) Irrigation Infrastructure: 
    • 1,500 ft of trench
    • water pipe and electrical conduit  buried 24" deep
    • Pressure testing, then backfilling
    • Pulled wire through conduit
    • Assembled 24 manifolds
    • Install wiring and central timer; so we can irrigate on automated schedule that adjusts to live weather.
  • (Underway) Run irrigation to all swales in preparation for revegetation

OCTOBER

Now that we have so much of our infrastructure in place, it seems the real work of building the orchard is upon us.  In October, we ambitiously hope to:

  • Stabilize and compact all the swales on the hillside
  • Stabilize exposed soil with burlap and mulch
  • Broadcast clay-rolled seeds (nitrogen fixers and ground covers) across the berms of all swales and pathways
  • Spread straw over ground cover seeds
  • Mulch the ditches of every swale

SEPTEMBER

  • Collected almost 1000 lbs of thistle and cardoon flower heads to prevent seed germination
  • Stabilized large stretches of hillside with mulch and burlap in preparation for rains
  • Put up shade tents
  • Dug the water-harvesting swales on-contour that will provide the structure of our orchard-to-be.  We will use the ditches at pathways, and the berms to plant trees.
  • Moved the goats and their pen to more lush pastures
  • Rolled seeds in clay for future propagation (protection from birds, and germination insurance)
  • AND installed a level pad for our new shed!

 

Farm Wish List:

TOOLS

            Heavy duty (two axel) trailer for hauling compost and farm equipment

            Portable Generator 

MATERIALS

            Wood chip, wood chips, wood chips!  for mulching our trees

            Seeds: Comfrey, yarrow, ceanothus, calendula, and other nitrogen fixing or bee friendly ground covers

            Organic Matter for Compost: Spent beer grains, horse manure, and so on.

           Two 30+ foot aluminum utility poles 

SERVICES

Help with the design and building of a solar or wind powered water pump

Help designing a 5-acre irrigation layout

Groundwater Testing + Well Digging

Topographical Surveying 

Experienced Orchard Advice

Integrative Pest Management Training

If you have any of these items, or anything else you think might be useful to us as we build the farm, please send an email to Andrew@plantingjustice.org and let us know!
 

Acknowledgments

Big thanks to our in-kind donors who supported in 2015:

Mr. Espresso in Oakland, States Coffee in Martinez, and Catahoula Coffee if Richmond  - donors of burlap bags

Mack Tree Company & Timberland Tree Care in El Sobrante - dropoff of free arborist wood chips for mulch

And to one anonymous donor who generously provided $10,000 for us to purchase the materials for our orchard fencing!