It was a Super Sweet Summer Share Faire

On Saturday, Transition Palo Alto held its first ever Share Faire at Common Ground Garden and what a great place it was to have a Share Faire!  With plenty of space to spread out, that’s just what we did around the beautiful garden space.

Our neighbors shared lots of skills.  Diane Ruddle taught us how to make white kimchi.  Hillie Salo showed us how to save tomato seeds.  William Mutch demonstrated the fine art of sharpening blades.  Wendy Breu showed us how to make fine crafts out of paper.  Hamsa Ramajayan had a gaggle of kids to show how to make fairy gardens.  And our host, Paul Higgins, demonstrated watering techniques AND showed us how to thresh, winnow and mill – using a bicycle-powered mill assembled by the girl scouts! – wheat grown in the garden.

There were, of course, lots of things to share:  books, clothes, household goods, garden goods and produce and much more.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped set-up, operate and clean-up the Share Faire.  We can’t do this without a community.

We’ll look forward to returning to the wonderful Common Ground Garden for another Share Faire soon.

 

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Farewell gathering at Full Circle Farm

Garden share enthusiasts and participants in the South Bay Bioregional Hub came to Full Circle Farm for a last garden share and gathering July 23.

The garden shares will be continuing, and organizers will be on the lookout for a new public venue.  Meanwhile, the plan is for participants to take turns hosting in their driveways.  We’ll share info about where the garden share is each month.

Nectarines!

A bunch of TPAers adopted nectarine trees at the Masumoto Family Farm this year. The farm is a multi-generational enterprise of the delightful and inspiring Masumoto family. The farm specializes in peaches and nectaries, which Nikiko Masumoto calls the ‘anti-convenience fruit’ because they require lots of attention and care to produce the fragrant and juicy fruit loved by so many.

The first crew harvested on July 22, and a fine time was had by all. The next crew is due to finish clearing our three trees on July 29th.

There will be lots of fruit, and when that happens, it’s time for a skillshare!  Whether or not you participated in the harvesting, you’re invited to a skillshare on July 30 in Sunnyvale. Join in as we prepare and preserve much of the fruit, and then enjoy a potluck dinner. Send email to barbaraweinstein2@gmail.com to RSVP and for the skillshare location and other details.

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Local Garden Share at Full Circle Farm – A Retrospective

Change happens.  In the nearly 7 years since the first Local Garden Share kicked off in Palo Alto, Garden Shares have come and gone, grown and shrunk, and changed times and locations.  They spawned Transition Palo Alto’s Share Faire, which has had its share of change over the years.  We are glad to say that the concept of Sharing remains strong in Palo Alto and the South Bay.

The Local Garden Share at Full Circle Farm, under the guidance of long-time Transitionista Victoria Armigo, has been a particularly stable presence in Sunnyvale.  Nearly every Fourth Sunday morning since 2011, Victoria and a group of gardeners have met at the small farmstand in the front of Full Circle Farm to share the produce of their gardens, nearly anything related to food, and themselves – they created community.  Alas, that will be coming to an end:  the last Local Garden Share at Full Circle Farm will take place on July 23 at 11:00 AM.

This bit of sad news did not happen due to lack of interest.  As you may have heard, Full Circle Farm will be closing at the end of July.  The Santa Clara Unified School District has chosen not to renew its contract with the farm, which will be leaving the property as soon as Summer Camp winds up in early August.  (SCUSD has indicated that they will manage the property as some kind of publicly-accessible urban agriculture.)

The Garden Sharers of Sunnyvale are still contemplating the future of Local Garden Shares in their area.  They are thinking of rotating the Share from home to home.  It is also possible that the Share will find a new permanent home somewhere in the neighborhood.  Stay tuned to Transition Palo Alto for developments on this.  And if you’d like to help, or simply want to visit Full Circle Farm one last time, please come on out to the Farm at 11:00 AM on July 23 – bring the produce of your garden, bring anything related to food or gardening, but most importantly bring yourself and build community.

Living in PA

I’ve lived in Palo Alto for 10 years now, the Bay Area for 18. Admittedly, this is not a very long time compared to some, but it’s longer than many of my neighbors, and by at least a decade, the longest I have lived in one place in my 40 years.

Still, as a one-and-a-half-generation East Indian, raised in the deep South, former scientist, eco-passionate stay-at-home-mom, sometimes I feel I don’t fit in. Other moms take kids to a plethora of museums miles away, know which is the hot new date night restaurant, bike miles and miles, attend pilates, and make homemade brownies in the same week. Instead, my days are peppered with conscious, difficult choices that juggle responsibility and mediocrity – we are late for school, so should we drive, bike, or walk? Shall I pick up that piece of trash? That one? That one? Can we let the dryer run – just this once? And those fruits – pick, let rot, or leave to wildlife? Pick up another orphaned mug I don’t really need, or leave it to fill a potential landfill? Let the kids wander while I cook, or play with them, watch them, and let dinner burn? Do they like to do yoga with me, or it is just an excuse for screen time?

These are the questions I ponder while I make that second batch of yogurt after the first failed (spent too long playing cards with my daughter), or pick apart moldy raspberries with my hands to save for freezer jam. There is joy in this – the not-knowing which way is right, exploring what works for us, fumbling our way to sustainability.

In my heart, I know it’s not enough, not nearly, not fast enough for what is coming, but this is the slow world of my choice, the one that lingers in vision. I wonder if others could see that being really intentionally in this world is a process that evolves even for the passionate, may they, too, might try. Maybe we can support each other as we dabble in the new, and take tiny steps towards giant leaps. All while the kids are watching.

June 30 Fifth Friday – To the Ends of the Earth – film and discussion

NOTE DATE CHANGE – IT’S THE FIFTH FRIDAY THIS MONTH!!

“To the Ends of the Earth” follows concerned citizens living at the frontiers of extreme oil and gas extraction, bearing witness to a global crossroads. They call for human ingenuity to rebuild society at the end of the fossil fuel era.

The people in the film are uniquely positioned to watch this global crossroads unfold. For example, the mayor of an Inuit village in Canada’s high Arctic who is concerned that seismic testing for oil in the ocean is blowing up the eardrums of the animals that the Inuit hunt to survive. Or the environmental lawyer who goes on a journey to areas that produce energy for the tar sands of Alberta — he learns of the massive inputs of energy that have to be put into this resource — and the reasons why the second largest oil project in the world is economically unsustainable. Or the river conservationist in Utah who fights to protect the Colorado River from oil shale projects that would disturb its headwaters.

“To the Ends of the Earth” brings forward the voices of those who not only denounce the rise of extreme energy, but also envision the new world that is taking shape in its stead: a future beyond the resource pyramid, a post-growth economy.

Friday June 30, 7:30-9:30pm
Fireside Room, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E. Charleston, Palo Alto
FREE (donations appreciated)

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Building fences – and bridges – at Phoenix Garden

It was a perfect spring morning May 20 for work and relaxation at Phoenix Garden in San Mateo. (For more on the garden, check out Kris Jensen’s TPA blog post.)

Volunteers helped erect deer fences to protect a new orchard and other designated planting areas. William Mutch demoed his smooth scything technique, and several folks got into the ‘swing’ of it. And a new sign was erected to show what the garden will like when all the areas are complete.

After work, relaxation. We gathered together as the South Bay Bioregional Hub for a potluck and brainstorm about how sustainability activists can help each other. It is a co-creation project where people meet every month at an interesting project site to combine work and bridge-building in the hope of making more and more sustainability and community projects successful. As one example, Chris Searles shared information about his BioIntegrity project, which connects potential donors to environmental stewardship and restoration opportunities. To help build more bridges outside of these gatherings, we use the CrossPollinators – a website where sustainability change makers can share knowledge about community organizations and projects. Also, check out this cool video about how the Cross Pollinators helped the Freedom Farmer’s Market develop a website and marketing materials within just a few hours, just by bringing the right people together.

To learn more, check out The CrossPollinators, including the South Bay Regional Hub section.

Phoenix Garden has a work day the third Saturday of every month. If you’d like to learn more, contact Kris Jensen (krisxjensen@gmail.com). You can also check your TPA email and newsletter for details about garden work days.

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The CrossPollinators is an open-source digital platform where you and other changemakers can share your knowledge of community organizations and projects to help regenerate the world.

May Fete Fair

Since my children were babies, we have been going to the Palo Alto May Fete Parade and Fair. This Children’s Parade has vintage automobiles, local school bands, floats from each school and local community organization, and children biking, scootering, riding strollers, and walking down the middle of University Avenue, as onlookers cheer and announcers describe each group – in short, it’s a testament to community in and around Palo Alto. This year’s theme was “Who is your hero?” – so there were plenty of superhero costumes and buttons that announced each person’s personal hero.

The parade is followed by a Fair in Heritage Park, where food trucks offer food, children and adults attend booths full of low-tech games and information about community resources, and prizes are offered. This is where we came in – my friend Priya and I hosted the Transition Palo Alto table (which was also strategically placed next to the Zero Waste table!).

We taped up a paper wall to be our garden, and the children wrote and drew on flowers and leaves, answering the prompt “I am a Planet Hero when I…” – answers ranged from biking and recycling to saving bees and planting trees. We filled our paper garden with ideas.

Priya and I also demoed her adventure, Pebble Pod, which is a subscription box that will have ideas for bringing families together around culture, community, and environment. We showed how to make a simple solar oven from the black box – using chopsticks, cling wrap, newspaper, foil, and tape. Kids were thrilled with the idea of making s’mores inside, and adult visitors were interested to learn that the temperature inside can get as high as 200oF!

I’ll be marching again with my children next year, albeit with a new school group, because this is what community is about.

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