Farm & 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.  Learn more here.

 

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 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.

Schedule

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 volunteer days.  Let us know you are coming - please RSVP in advance using the form below.  

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THURSDAy, Dec 1st

THURSDAY, DEC 8th

THURSDAY, DEC 15th

Saturday sessions will return in January, 2017

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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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Please complete the volunteer form below including the date(s) 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.


Name *
Name
Please only RSVP for dates we have listed above for hosting volunteers. For groups larger than 8 - we may be able to setup a custom session for you.
Tell us what you are excited about


Farm Work Log and Notes


TASKS ahead

  • Continue planting understory shrubs
  • Continue weeding existing plantings
  • Plan + Design solar system
  • Plan + design of future farm structures.

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2016 Work Log

September

  • Continue planting understory shrubs
  • Weeding existing plantings
  • Prepare planting area for cane berries
  • Sick goats on poison oak areas
  • Irrigation master valve and flow metering in place (ie. protection against leaks!!)

August

  • Weeding perennnials
  • Training grapes
  • Continue planting understory shrubs

July

  • Irrigation up and running on regular schedule!
  • 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 Farm Activity Log

 

Farm Wish List:

TOOLS

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

            Portable Generator 

MATERIALS

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 

SERVICES

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

Topographical Surveying 

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!
 

Acknowledgments

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, States Coffee in Martinez, and Catahoula Coffee if 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!