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Class Descriptions

Urban Gardening
listed alphabetically

GREEN means GO These classes are OPEN for registration
RED means STOP,THIS CLASS IS FULL contact us to get on the waiting list
, please check back later.

Pre-registration is required and exact location is given once you have registered.


Many classes will repeat if there is enough interest. If a class is past or you do not get in on time,
please contact us and we will let you know if another session is forming.
Classes are for age 12 and up unless otherwise indicated.


All About Avocados
Sunday April 27, 2014 1pm-5pm
Instructor:Jillian Steinberger
Location: Tour starting in Oakland TBA
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
In this class you will learn that yes, you can grow avocados. Well be carpool caravaning on an adventurous driving tour to visit vigorous avocado trees in the East Bay. Some people have planted with success and others have inherited established trees when they bought their property. Some established trees have 2’-3’ diameter trunks, are over 40 feet tall, and produce hundreds of pounds of fruit which can lend itself to neighborhood sharing and gleaning. We’ll address why so few have been planted here, and why experts are now recommending planting more. We’ll discuss best planting and growing techniques. We’ll also talk about the many varieties we can grow here – from Hass to Reed and many more – including which are hardiest for our microclimates, and how to plant for a year round crop. We’ll learn about pollination, cultivation, fertilization, pruning and harvesting. We’ll also talk about health benefits and culinary and cosmetic uses for avocados, and share recipes.

Raised Bed and Container Gardening: Edibles
Sunday May 18, 2014 10am-1pm
Instructor: Kitty Sharkey
Lcation: East Oakland
Cost: $35-70
sliding scale
Growing edible plants in containers has many advantages for the urban gardener. Whether you have limited space, poor soil, or problems with gophers and other pests, container gardening may be a alternative solution to planting directly in the ground. In this class we will explore different types of planting containers including ones you can make yourself, growing vertically, soils and amendments, what types of plants to grow including annual and perennial fruits and vegetables, and caring for container plants. Seeds or starts will be available for you to take home and try in your own garden.

Bare Root: Selection & Planting of Your Urban Orchard
Sunday February 9, 2014, 2pm-4pm
Instructor:K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
Enjoy the amazing taste of fresh sun ripened fruit from your own backyard! This course will lead you through selection and planting and general care of fruit trees and berries., including consideration of site selection, planting techniques, tricks for maximizing fruit production in small spaces and best varieties for our East Bay climate.

Biochar for Soil Fertility and Eco-Resilience
Instructor:Paul Taylor
Saturday September 13, 2014 1-5pm
Location: Fruitvale
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
Come learn about the multiple benefits of Biochar for home-scale gardeners and commercial and small-scale land use. Biochar is a 2,000 year-old practice that converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and mitigate climate change. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and native soil management practices. In this presentation Paul Taylor, author of The Biochar Revolution will discuss the specific benefits of using biochar in agriculture as well as potential global benefits through more widespread use. We'll learn how to build simple devices for making biochar at home and we'll see one of these devices in action. We'll also learn how to blend and apply biochar to enhance soil fertiility in the garden as well as how it can be used in vermiponics, aquaponics and hydroponics. Copies of the book, The Biochar Revolution will be available for purchase as well as small Biochar ovens.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About COMPOST! (but were afraid to ask)
Sunday April 13, 2014 1pm-4pm CANCELLED
Instructor:K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
Hot compost, cold compost, lazy composting, worm composting, compost tea and more. Come get the low down on options for turning your kitchen and yard waste into gold standard amendments for your garden. We’ll take a look at what is needed to create the optimal hot compost pile and then explore variations on this theme to discover the perfect composting style for you and your garden. Given time and availability in the garden we’ll get some hands on practice turning compost, harvesting vermicastings and brewing up and applying a compost tea.

Community Design Clinic: Urban Gardening
Wednesday April 23, 2014 7pm-9pm
suggested donation, no one turned away.
Location will be announced in our April Newsletter or contact us for location.

Join others from the community to sip a glass of wine or tea and talk about all things garden. We'll have a couple of our instructors on hand to facilitate and answer questions on a wide variety of gardening topics from watering to weeds and beyond.

Dormant Season Fruit Tree Graft
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Sunday February 9, 2014 10am-12:30pm
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale plus $10 supply fee
Grafting is a wonderful way to make more from less in a small urban orchard and begin to explore the joy of variety in fruiting plants. In this class we will learn and practice methods which may be used for grafting dormant scion (cuttings) onto both rootstock and mature trees. You will gain an understanding of plant propagation and the role of grafting, the basic science of grafting, which fruits which are compatible, which take to grafting more readily and tools needed. We will then get hands on practice and each participant will go home with at least two grafted apple trees.

Drip Irrigation: Occupy the Flow!
Sunday April 27, 2014 1pm-4pm
Instructor: Jeremy Watts
Location: South Berkeley
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
In times of drought it is more important than ever to use water wisely and get it exactly where it needs to go. A drip irrigation system delivers more water to the roots of plants and wastes less through evaporation. In this class we will cover options, parts and installation of a drip irrigation system. Starting with how to assess your water flow we’ll learn about timers, gallons per hour, how to deal with plants that have different water needs, how to create zones and how all those bits and pieces fit together. Learn how to set up an initial system that can change as your garden changes and how to maintain an existing system. As a bonus we'll learn the benefits of using mulch--both to cover all those black plastic drip lines and to keep the water in the soil where it belongs. We'll be working hands on to set up a simple drip system on site using traditional drip irrigation components as well as a few household items that can be used for some cool DIY hacks.

Food Forests, Plant Guilds and Polycultures
Sunday June 22, 10am-1pm CANCELLED
Instructor: Giancarlo Muscardini
Location: Berkeley, 4th St
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This class is part of our Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend and can be taken as a stand alone or or as part of the weekend. Perennial Food Forests are a much beloved element of permaculture design, yet most food forest experimentation has been done in the tropics, where plants grow lushly year round. Come learn the ins and outs of temperate food forests and see how the DaTerra family food forest is weathering the drought. After a tour of the property we’ll learn the theory and practice of assembling perennial plant guilds, the different roles that each plant play within them and how to aseemble several guilds into a functioning food forest. We'll hear about experiments in tropical regions and how to take those ideas and apply them in our own climate including tips for maintenance and pitfalls to avoid. Then we'll get hands-on practice assembling a guild. As a bonus we’ll touch on polycultures, which utilize some of the same principles in the annual vegetable garden.

Home-Scale Aquaponics and Organic Hydroponics
Seeking Instructor TBA

Learn to garden without the use of expensive and environmentally taxing fertilizers! This class will introduce you to the theory and practice of low-tech home-scale aquaponics, a system of raising fish and plants together in a symbiotic relationship, where each supports the other. With an established, functional low tech system as our guide, we'll learn how it all works, including types of fish and plants well suited to the system, options for assembling your own home system from readily available materials and troubleshooting. You will receive a resource list and plans to take home.

Mushroom Cultivation Homestead-Style
Sunday July 20, 2014 2pm-6pm
Instructor: Patty $ Ray Lanier, The Mushroom Maestros
Location: West Oakland
Cost: $50-80
sliding scale plus $12 supply fee in cash on day of class
Dive into the magical world of Fungi. They are deliscious, nutritious--they might even save the world! Mushrooms are known for their healing properties both as medicine for humans but also for the planet. They help plants uptake nutrients, clean-up toxic waste, compost entire clear cuts as have a host of other uses. In this class we'll focus on growing mushrooms, homestead-style! We'll see a working, off-the -grid inner city mushroom cultivation set-up. Then we'll learn which mushroom can be most easily cultivated at home both indoors and out, the difference between spores and spawn and what materials different mushrooms thrive on. We'll explore growing mushrooms on straw or sawdust or on cardboard as a means for innoculating wood chips in garden beds. Then we'll learn methods to prepare these substrates including heat pasteurization, fermentation, and soap techniques. We'll also cover wood chip spawn, log plugs and how to use spent mushroom kits in compost to get another "flush" while aiding the composting process.. Working with either oyster, shitake or king stropheria mycellium, students will then make a starter kits to take home.

Native Bees & Native Plants: Pollination to the People
Saturday July 19, 2014 10am-1pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This is an introduction to pollination ecology, the wild world of bees and pollinator friendly gardening for folks who are curious and want to nurture an awareness for these beloved hardworking critters. There are over 25,000 species of bees worldwide, 4000 in the US and 1000 in California. We will learn about the lifecycles and biology of honey bees, and native bees, the differences between the two, the special relationship between bees and flowers and what you can provide to support more bee and insect life in your garden. We learn to how to tell the difference between a bee, a wasp and a fly and how to identify a few of our local native bees. We will also introduce the idea of api-centric beekeeping and offer possibilities for natural beekeeping. We'll taste some honey, observe both honey bees and native bees at work, and get the lowdown on Colony Collapse Disorder.

Organic Gardening 101
Saturday March 29, 2014 10am-4pm
Saturday May 3, 2014 10am-4pm

Saturday June 14, 2014 10am-4pm

K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
This day long course will introduce you to the essentials and foolproof basics of organic gardening. In the first part of the day we'll learn about dirt, including soil types, tilling and amending,options for composting and sheet mulching, cover crops and more. In the second half of the class we will focus on plants: seeds and satrts, sun and shade, water, weeds and garden planning. There will be lots to touch and feel, garden tour, and break out exercises including hands-on work in the garden. Bring your questions and get your hands dirty! This class is for beginning gardeners and those wanting to learn more about organic perspectives and techniques

Organic Gardening for the Second Half of the Year (Late Summer & Fall)
Sunday July 27, 2014 10am-2pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
$45-75 sliding scale
This class will introduce you to gardening basics with a focus on what is happening in the garden from August through the following spring. We will talk about basic soil amending, sheet mulching, Fall and winter garden crops, Bay Area watering issues for summer and Fall and more. hands-on projects. Everyone will go home with couple 6-packs of early season seed.

Propagate! Make More Plants For Free
Saturday Mat 31, 2014 10am-3pm
Instructor: Anders Vidstrand
Location Emeryville
Cost: $50-80
sliding scale
Crash course in propagation. Nursery prices got you down? Is your plant habit breaking the bank? Now is the time to cut the ties and never look back ! In this class you will learn how to easily multiply plants in your own backyard, just like the pros.. We’ll take you step-by-step through best methods for seed saving and starting, cuttings, divisions, grafting, layering and everything else in between. We’ll cover timing, seasonality and materials needed and give you a handy list of crop to try.. We’ll break it up with hands on practice and you will take some plants and cuttings home with you.

Living Earth: Soil Health and Science for Gardeners
Saturday March 15, 2014 1pm-5pm CANCELLED
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
In this mini-intensive we'll meet the living organisms in the soil, learn what each does to enhance garden productivity and look at how to feed and proliferate life in the soil for specific results. We'll learn about how plants entice micro-organisms to meet their nutrient needs and different types of partnershipsWe will demystify the nitrogen cycle, learn about the differnt forms of nitrogen plants prefer and how to harness your soil food web to give plants their preferred nutrient cocktail using compost. mulch and compost teas. Participants will have the opportunity to mix up samples of their own soil and idenitfy who is living there using the microscope and we'll be mixing compost teas on site. Glossary, resources and recipes will be provided in a handout

Seed Saving for Urban Gardeners
offered August 14 through PLACE
Instructors: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland

sliding scale
Seed saving is the next step toward self-reliance and deepsustainability. Saving our own seeds ensures protection of vital genetic material and helps keep our food system out of the hands of the big 5 like Monsanto and Dow Chemical. In this course you will learn the joys and challenges of saving seeds in an urban environment, including which crops can be reliably saved in small spaces and which need larger populations, isolation or special techniques. We'll learn dry processing, wet processing, isolation and hand pollination techniques, threshing, winnowing and storage. After instruction we'll pactice pocessing batches of seed from the instructors store.

Unusual Perennial Fruits & Vegetables for the Bay Area
Sunday June 22, 2014 10am-2pm CANCELLED
Instructor: Anders Vidstrand
Location Emeryville
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This class is part of our Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend and can be taken as a stand alone or or as part of tha weekend.
From the common Asparagus to the incredibly rare Ulluco, we’ll learn about the propagation, culture, and preparation of unusual perennial vegetables from around the world. Many of these strange, beautiful and delicious edible plants grow very well in the our unique Bay Area climate. Following an overview of the best species and varieties, including Andean vegetables and grains, ancient crops from Europe and Asia, and other tasty and productive plants we’ll learn how to integrate perennial vegetable crops into our landscape design, as well as how to how to propagate and grow them. Finally we’ll talk about how to prepare your unusual harvest with tasty recipes.

Urban Berry Patch
Saturday May 10, 2013 1pm-3pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $25-55
sliding scale
For many people fresh berries are a manna from heaven. If you like them from the store, you are going to be even more enthusiastic when you pick them right from your own berry plants, warmed by the sun! And lucky for us, many berries thrive in our area! This course will cover selection, planting and care of the major berries for our area. We will talk about Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Huckleberries and Mulberries as well as some lesser known berries.

Urban Orchard: Care and Pruning of Backyard Fruit Trees
Saturday September 20, 2014 10am-3pm
Instructor: Molly Bolt
Location: South Berkeley
Cost: $50-80
sliding scale
Do you want to get the most out of your yard? Are you thinking of adding fruit trees, or do you want to take better care of the ones you have? This class is for you! This full-day workshop will offer a comprehensive look at caring for your backyard orchard. Participants will learn basic tree identification, nursery specimen selection, desirable structure for mature trees, how to train young trees, pruning techniques, when in the year to prune each species, and how to diagnose and treat the most common conditions affecting orchards. Integrated pest management strategies will be covered, with a focus on preserving beneficial insects. We'll evaluate tree placement in the yard and discuss strategies for effective irrigation and fertilization. Participants are encouraged to come with pictures of their trees or drawings of their yards as examples to analyze. A large portion of the day will be hands-on practice doing mid-season structural pruning on plums and apples. Other species discussed may include citrus, olive, pomegranate, fig, apricot, persimmon and almond. Please bring hand pruners and a wood saw if available; instructor has extras if necessary.

Urban Orchard Care: Winter Pruning
Sturday February 15, 2014 10am-1pm

Instructor: Molly Bolt
Location: South Berkeley

Cost: $40-65 sliding scale
This hands-on class will cover the basics of reconstruction, aesthetic and fruit tree pruning. Participants will practice assessment and pruning skills, as well as some common insect and disease identification. We will also discuss seasons for pruning, tree anatomy, and best installment practices. Bring hand tools if you have them. Class is outdoors. Raindate: Same time following weekend.

Intro to Urban Permaculture
Saturday June 22, 10am-12:30pm CANCELLED
Instructors: :K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland

Cost:$35-65 sliding scale
This class is part of our Urban Permaculture Skills Weekend and can be taken as a stand alone or or as part of tha weekend.
Have you ever wanted to know more about permaculture, but can’t afford the time or money for a two week design course?  This crash course will introduce you to the ethics and principles of permaculture and give you a taste of what it is all about. After a short introduction to core concepts of permaculture , we'll look at how it can be used to re-deso\ign hany human activity to create a world that is abundant and viable for the long haul.. The we'll use the garden to observe permaculture in actions and explore some of the most popular design elements including the zone system, stacking functions and wprking with nature instead of against it.

Winter Gardening Essentials
TBA 2015
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
$50-85 sliding scale
In the cold time of year time when the soil and plants are resting, there are still many important tasks to be accomplished in the garden to prepare for a spring and summer bounty. This class will cover winter gardening essentials including garden planning, bed preparation, seed selection & seed starting, bare root fruit selection & planting, dormant season care of perrenial fruit & shrubs, basic pruning, cover cropping, composting and basic mushroom cultivation. The class will include a tour of the winter garden, lecture & hands-on..

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