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SF Bay Area Permaculture?

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Hey, so I'm very interested in permaculture.

Right now I'm still in college, and living with my parents. Flat broke but have a ton of free time.

So... the question, What can I do? What are some suggestions.

Right now my parents own a 1 acre lot which they've been trying to develop into housing. Not working out too well with the city. So I figure I might as well practice here, for when i'm (eventually) on my own...

It's a zone 8-9(ish) area. The soil is heavy clay, as is typical in this area. Before we bought it, it was sprayed for years. It's probably been 4 years since the last herbicide spraying. Nowadays the fire department sends us an angry letter when we don't keep it mowed/sprayed in the summer months (anything above 6inches is a fire hazard).

I'm interested in Hugelkultur, I can easily get unlimited truckloads of woodchips from the landscapers delivered for free... But have no access to heavy machinery, so I'd likely be doing any digging/moving by hand...

I haven't been able to find much about permaculture for my climate, it seems like most permaculture is done in much colder places. (like where snowfall is greater than 1inch every five years)

Thoughts? Ideas? Advice?

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Hey there. I too am a fellow bay area resident. There are a few places that offer good resources for topics you can find in this forum. I also live with my parents right now. Although I will be shipping out to the Air Force in 2 months, so no long term projects for me. Its funny because I think of permaculture being more of a warm climate thing, only because I lived in hawaii for some years and was exposed to the permies over there.

We do have a compost pile we put all of our kitchen waste in.
I have some snails I am raising for escargot, helix aspersa, I found all throughout the yard.
I made a small aquaponic system, that is going well, I will also be selling it when I leave, so if you are interested let me know.

A good way to learn about your local climate is visit farms in the area. You can learn a lot by visiting and taking tours.

Workshops are also a good way to learn. I just went to the bio gas workshop this weekend in Ukiah. It was very informative. I also will be going to a wild harvesting walk in San Francisco park this Sunday.

here are some good resources:


You don't really need heavy machinery to make a hugel bed. Just a shovel, patience, and hard work,

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Hey Badgerman and Oracle
So you want to start a garden, First get a book called "Strawberries in November". It's the only book I've found that is written for the Bay area gardener. It tells you which plants to grow in which months.
You both live in the bay area, as do I. I have two gardens, one a home garden in Oakland and the other in Hayward as a demonstration permaculture garden at the university. The university garden was started February 23 and I'm having great results.
With the demonstration garden I'm trying different methods and seem to be having good results with everything.

Badgerman: you have a one acre field of weeds that the fire department wants maintained. First mow or weed whip everything to the ground, that's called chop and drop. Then cover the whole field with 4 inches of wood chips.

Congratuations you just created your first microclimate. The dark wood chips will warmup the area and hold the heat for those freezing cold summers that the bay area is known for. Collect your neighbors greenwaste and layer it on top of wood chips. Try to lay down two inches of brown waste and cover with just enough green grass clippings to hide the brown. In a year this will have rotted down to pure black gold. When you have the mulch a foot thick send out another email and I will advise you to the next step.s

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Golden Gate Gardener is another Bay Area specific book
There's several permaculture e-mail lists for the region too
I'm in N Oakland
eco-innovator & pollinator
Posts: 116
Location: Los Gatos, California Zone 10a (30°F to 35°F) Steep South Facing Slope, Rocky Soil, Ph 7.1
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Where are you in the SF Bay Area?  San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula, and South Bay have different climates and they are a bit spread out as well.  I have spent the last year working on my yard in San Carlos (Peninsula), but it will take another year or two to really get going.

I strongly recommend joining the California Rare Fruit Growers Association - http://www.crfg.org/ ; There are a lot of people there with good advice.

Two San Francisco sites:

Common Grounds is a BioIntensive model, not true permaculture, but a good resource on the Peninsula http://www.commongroundinpaloalto.org/

Check out the spiral garden if you're in Oakland.

If anyone else is in the SF Bay area please let us know. and let us know what part of the bay area you're in.
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Hi All.

I am just minutes from Hayward and working on getting my garden up and going.

I am resuming the raising of rabbits and guinea pigs and have lots of room.

I am trying to replace non-edible plants on our property with plants that we can eat or feed to the rabbits in the hopes of eventually being able survive with what we have in the yard if the need arises.  (More as an experiment and lesson for my homeschooled kid than fear of that happening.) 

I would love to meet up with locals and share our experience and produce, work with others breeding meat rabbits, etc...

Off to find Strawberries in November, thanks for the recommendation!

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Anyone interested in exploring the wonderful world of Home-Grown Spirulina?  Learn all about growing algae for superfood and biofuel in an upcoming AlgaeLab workshop!

DIY Algaculture Workshop:

Grow your own superfoods and biofuels at home...

Sunday, June 12th, 11-5 pm

Ace Monster Toys (maker's co-op), 6050 Lowell St, Oakland CA 94608

Grow plentiful food and fuel in a small space.

Algae can make impressive amounts of food or fuel but do not require land, soil, or fresh water. They can be harvested every day, producing many times more output than land crops, and some of them (e.g. Spirulina) have amazing health benefits as food.

You can grow algae too — in your own home — and I would love to show you how.

Come to the Hands-On Home-Grow Algae workshop. Go home with your own Personal Photo-BioReactor and everything you need to grow your own Spirulina superfood algae in your own home!

One personal algae photo-bioreactor in one sunny window can provide enough spirulina to significantly supplement the diet of one person every day. Larger installations can provide biofuel and organic fertilizer, and perform important services, such as cleaning up water, and eliminating greenhouse gases from exhaust.

In addition to an introduction to an overview of algae farming, and a discussion of the practicalities of setting up your own farm, we will have an extended hands-on section of the workshop where I will show you how to set up and run your personal photo-bioreactor kit — it’s easy!

Special offer: along with the workshop, all participants will be able to take home a one liter bottle of live spirulina culture to start your own tank or pond — this alone is worth far more than the course fee…

Check out www.algaelab.org to register for the workshop and to check out our other happenings. We sell complete and very affordable kits with everything you need to grow, harvest, and eat your own live Spirulina superfood!  If you pick up the kit at a workshop, it will include a 10-gallon tank. If you buy the kit online, you will have to provide your own tank. If you already have some kit components, email us and we can sell you a cheaper kit without some items…

DIY Home-Grow Algae for Biofuels and Superfoods
Kits, Components, and Culture
Posts: 10
Location: California
tiny house cooking bee
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There's a new permaculture center in Santa Cruz that was started a couple years ago. It's called Santa Cruz Permaculture, and they offer PDCs, workshops, and are planning on offering other services and classes. Their next PDC starts in April; I highly recommend it! Here's more information: http://santacruzpermaculture.com/education/permaculture-design-course/
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