Five Acre Mother Orchard
Our 5-Acre food forest
Our 5 Acre Farm and Orchard in El Sobrante is home to an incredibly diverse collection of fruiting trees and shrubs; currently housing 700 varieties across hundreds of plant families. Apple, apricot, avocado, currant, elderberry, fig, feijoa, peach, pear, plum, pomegranate and many, many more are now planted in the downhill berm of roughly 1 mile of water harvesting swales crossing the contours of the open south facing hillside here.
The land we are cultivating now was a ranch and orchard throughout the early 1900's. In the residential buildout of this area through the 50's - the surrounding landscape was divided, sold, paved and covered with homes. Our farm site was preserved then because of the steep slopes and land-slide prone soils along the creek here. Even so - developers continued to eye this land for dense suburban development; in fact 38 home were approved for construction here before locals organized to defend the creek that runs along the property. In 2010, the co-operative Wild and Radish purchased the land with a commitment to ecological stewardship, preserving wilds, tree planting, and plans to build a small residential ecovillage on 1/2 acre. Enabled by the sustained organizing of concerned citizens, this landscape has escaped many of most direct impacts of suburban development that have claimed so many special spaces in this area. Planting Justice is very fortunate to hold a long-term $1/year lease on these 5 acres. The south facing slope is ideal solar exposure for growing; the land is located in horticultural zone 15 - an ideal climate for growing diverse fruiting collections; and it is near highway 80 making access for our staff and visitors relatively easy and giving us easy access to local markets. Now managed with permaculture and agro-ecological principles - this land will remain a haven for birds and wildlife even as it produces thousands of pounds of produce for local communities and creates good green jobs within our organization.
This is not your average production orchard. Every time we take cuttings from our fruit trees - we will carefully bundle and label them by variety, take them to our nursery in East Oakland, and nurture them for 12-18 months before they are offered for sale online. Right now we have just a few trees already producing fruit, but in a few years there will be much more. We plan to sell our organically certified produce to local restaurants, and create a CSA fruit share that can be had for sliding scale cost. Additionally, Planting Justice is looking forward to incubating value-added cooperatives that will use the fruit to make pies, jams, and other products for sale in local marketplaces.
Growing food, growing jobs, growing community!
BEGINNING FARMER TRAINING PROGRAM
Planting Justice is collaborating with several other groups to offer this new educational series.
The Bay Area Farmer Training Program provides the education, training and tools for a new generation of farmers in California's Bay Area to create socially-just, ecologically sustainable and economically viable urban and peri-urban farm businesses. Exceedingly high recidivism rates, increasing immigrant populations, a scarcity of living-wages for vulnerable citizens, and the rapidly aging farmer population all combine to create an urgent need to champion collaborative strategies in community development and seed opportunities to access training, land, and jobs in urban areas. Between MESA's experience connecting educators, mentors and farmers around the world, and Planting Justice's years of innovative and successful re-entry programs, we bring a wealth of experience to the Bay Area Farmer Training Program!
This program supports immigrants, refugees, formerly incarcerated, and under-resourced beginning farmers in having strong voices to lead their communities towards thriving, equitable and resilient food systems. Co-Lead Farm Educators Ana Galvis Martinez and Paul Rogé offer a comprehensive program featuring experiential learning, site visits, participatory presentations, anti-oppression trainings, online curriculum, and ongoing mentorship support for those who aspire to farm as a career path.
Come work with us!
We regularly host individuals, community groups, schools, and businesses out on the farm for volunteer work days on the farm.
Sign up to Volunteer on the Farm using the form below
With more than 600 trees now planted on-contour in earth scape 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 1,100 varieties of edible plants growing 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.
We are having volunteer days every Thursday on the farm - unless otherwise posted. We are hoping to offer one Saturday volunteer opportunity per month, in order to accommodate those who are only available on weekends. This page should be updated 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 to return easily - and if you find out of date information here, please feel free to let us know!
Here are the upcoming summer volunteer days. Let us know you are coming! - please RSVP in advance using the form below, and for Thursdays indicate if you will come for the morning or afternoon session. Thanks!
Thursday Morning Session: 9am to Noon
Thursday Afternoon Session: 1pm to 4pm
Saturday Sessions: 10am to 1pm
THURSDAY, September 7th
THURSDAY, September 14th
THURSDAY, September 21sT
THURSDAY, September 28th
THURSDAY, OCtober 5th
THURSDAY, OCtober 12th
THURSDAY, OCtober 19th
Saturday, OCtober 21St
THURSDAY, OCtober 26th
THURSDAY, November 2nd
THURSDAY, November 9th
THURSDAY, November 16nd
THURSDAY, November 23Rd
THURSDAY, November 30th
Please complete the volunteer form below including the date(s) that you plan to attend!
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 and know how to identify it.
Once you have completed the form below and click "Volunteer" a link and password will be displayed in place of this form. Use these to access further instructions.
Farm Work Log and Notes
- Continue planting understory shrubs
- Continue weeding existing plantings
- Plan + Design solar system
- Plan + design of future farm structures.
Farm Wish List:
Heavy duty (two axel) trailer for hauling compost and farm equipment
Organic Matter for Compost: Spent beer grains, horse manure, and so on.
Wood chips, wood chips, wood chips! for mulching our trees
Seeds: Comfrey, yarrow, ceanothus, calendula, and other nitrogen fixing or bee friendly ground covers
Two 30+ foot aluminum utility poles
Help with the design and installation of a solar array
Help with the design and installation of gravity based fertigation system
Groundwater Testing + Well Digging
Experienced Orchard Advice
Integrative Pest Management Training
If you have any of these items, skills, 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!
Awesome volunteer support from several regular volunteer individuals, and others who visit less regularly
Regular volunteer groups from Buddhist Peace Fellowship
And several one time volunteer groups including: Pandora Internet Radio, UC Berkeley Students, an
And thanks to the in-kind donors who support us with regular material needs:
Mr. Espresso in Oakland and Catahoula Coffee in Richmond - donors of burlap bags
Contra Costa Tree and Stump Removal in El Sobrante - dropoff of free wood chips for mulch
And to one anonymous donor who generously provided $10,000 for us to purchase the materials for our orchard fencing!