Tag Archives: Garden Wheel

Loaves and Fishes

This is not the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

~ David Whyte ~ from The House of Belonging

The pilot project garden in the Santa Rosa Junior College neighborhood is thriving. Green Sangha Sonoma County met for retreat today and tasted the fruits of our labors. It feels so right to plant, tend, and harvest local organic food right in our own community, rather than depending so heavily on produce transported by polluting vehicles.

Of the Green Sangha Sonoma County Garden Wheel Project, Joanna Macy has this to say:

Dear Debra,

Thank you for sending this inspiring report of the Garden Wheel Project.
What a beautiful example of the Great Turning in action. I love to think of the lives it touches and the connections it weaves!



Our Sangha is aligning with 350.org to launch our Green Sangha Sonoma County Garden Wheel project on October 24. As many ecological activists know, “350” is the magic number used to empower our legislators to act on climate protection. No more than 350 parts per million of carbon in our atmosphere will sustain a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted,” according to Bill McKibben of 350.org. Yet scientists report that through non-sustainable practices, we have exceeded this number-the latest report indicates that there are 399 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere.

Bill McKibben will be speaking in Santa Rosa the evening of October 2 at Sonoma Country Day School, Jackson Theatre. This will be the kick-off event which propels us into joining 80 other countries to create a global day of action in preparation for the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December.

We will have our retreat on the October 24 day of action, and plant the first of four edible landscapes that will benefit neighborhood food exchange and food donations at FISH, (Friends In Service Here) Food Pantry in Santa Rosa which provides 24-hr. emergency supply of food to hungry people, no questions asked. The days of creating miracles, with loaves and fishes, (tomatoes, lettuce and apples…) has arrived.

During our retreat today, our letter action revolved around inviting our federal, state and local legislators to both of the events planned in Sonoma County. Our mission is to invite our leaders to join us in supporting the decisions that come out of Copenhagen, and to be a part in actualizing real climate protection initiatives in our county.

This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it’s too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it’s possible. Bill McKibben, www.350.org


The Wheel Just Keeps On Turning

By Debra Birkinshaw

(See photos of the garden planting below.)

JoAnna Macy says of the Great Turning, “It is a name for the transition from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. It identifies the shift from a self-destroying political economy to one in harmony with Earth and enduring for the future. It unites and includes all the actions being taken to honor and preserve life on Earth…Now, in this very time, three rivers — anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings — flow together. From the confluence of these rivers we drink and awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a living Earth, source of all we are and know. Despite centuries of mechanistic conditioning, we want to name, once again, this world as holy.”

There is a grand yet attainable project going on in our county that is a part of this Great Turning, as in the turning over of soil, the turning of thirsty lawns into edible Edens, and the turning toward transition in our community. A collaborative project of Green Sangha Sonoma County, SRJC Neighbors For Sustainability, and Edible Landscapes, the Garden Wheel Project incorporates the teaching of permaculture principles with hands-on gardening, food exchange, and food donation.

The Garden Wheel Project is already building connections, community, and increased neighborhood food security by bringing neighbors together to install food-focused gardens on at least four JC Neighborhood residential properties. The gardens will emphasize neighborhood food production, low water use techniques, and plants that attract beneficial insects, birds, and other beneficial wildlife to the area.

Garden Wheel participants are working to secure initial funding through a CAB, (Community Advisory Board) Community Improvement grant. Funding for the replacement of thirsty lawns with low-water-use plants and/or permeable landscape materials, such as mulch and bark, is also available through a Green Exchange Rebate Program offered by the City of Santa Rosa.

The gardens will be replicable models for neighborhood food production in our county, and designs and plant choices will produce as diverse a harvest as possible, which will facilitate trading. Surplus from the gardens can be traded at the JC Neighborhood produce swaps, (launching in July 2009) and donated to FISH, a neighborhood organization that provides food to people who need it. There is a vision to include some school gardens in the future, to safeguard this practice for future generations.

As the coordinator for the Stewardship of the Earth project, part of the New Social Contract being revived at our Peace and Justice Center, I want to draw for our readers the connection between peace and justice work and this project. There can be no peace without sustainability. We work together to assure our community that there is an abundant flow of resources locally; therefore, there is no need to panic, take up arms, and invade other countries in search of plunder. It is time to turn over a new leaf.

Susan Lamont of Edible Landscapes is teaching us about how to lay out the garden.

Debra, Angela, Terra, Rebecca, Ian and Trathen

Susan, Angela, Elva and Trathen

Sandra is one of the masterminds and networking wonders for this project.

Angela, of Edible Landscapes, and Terra look on as Rebecca and Ian plant.

Planting is under way. There are many edibles in this garden now-oregano, thyme, basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, sweet potatoes, beans, peas and tomatoes. There are also raspberries, a lemon verbena, and an aloe plant. I want to plant edamame for some more protein.


Debra Birkinshaw is a board member of the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County and an organizer for Green Sangha Sonoma County. To get involved in the Garden Wheel Project, you can email her at: cognizant2@hotmail.com.