On October 12th, APLD members along with avid horticulturalists and other landscape professionals will experience a day filled with inspiration and new ideas for restoring and rejuvenating mature landscapes to meet today’s standards for beauty and sustainability—a very common scenario for landscape designers. The event will be held at The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, approximately 25 miles east of San Francisco.
While the recent severe drought conditions have passed, California’s semi-arid climate and cyclical weather patterns mean that landscape designers must always plan for the future. This understanding is shared by the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities, which has proposed a partnership with the APLD-CA Sacramento District in developing programs to educate the public about sustainable landscape design and practices.
Over the years, water agencies throughout California have taken a variety of approaches to address water supply and demand challenges and water conservation education. As far as we know, EBMUD, the East Bay Municipal Water District in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the only agency in the state to create a unique partnership with the public to expand its conservation efforts. EBMUD provides drinking water to 1.4 million customers and wastewater services to 685,000 customers in parts of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
by Marti Meyer
APLD-CA SACRAMENTO DISTRICT
On a toasty hot Saturday in May, the APLD Sacramento District toured Del Rio Botanical Farm, a certified organic seed and vegetable production farm in West Sacramento. The Sacramento River, one of the most important bodies of fresh water in California, is a stone’s throw away and supplies the farm’s water, allowing third-generation proprietor of Del Rio, Suzanne Ashworth, to harvest open-pollinated seed and produce year round on 68 acres.
Suzanne is author of Seed to Seed, an authoritative reference on seed propagation and preserving varieties for future generations. With a collection of over 1,600 types of seeds, she works closely with many farms and national organizations on seed-saving projects. Del Rio harvests vegetables, fruits and herbs throughout the year for its consumer supported agriculture (CSA) boxes and specialty restaurants.
On our tour Suzanne led us through the gardens, introducing her goats, chickens and Japanese coternix quail along the way. She offered samples of an amazing variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as cheese made from the farm’s goat milk.
We lingered to discuss some of the farm’s most unusual varieties and some of their unexpected uses:
Vegetables: spineless nopal, purslane (Portulaca oleracea), lambs sorrel (Rumex acetosella), radish seed pod, avocado leaf (licorice flavored, cook with beans)
Herbs: toothache plant (Acmela oleracea), poisonous porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), clove basil, medicinal tea (lippia alba), Aztec sweet herb (Lippia dulsis), horseradish leaf (use to wrap fish and grill), lovage stem (sip a Bloody Mary through it for enhanced flavor), comfrey, yerba mansa (tea, medicinal tinctures), fish sauce plant (Houttuynia cordata)
Fruits: alpine strawberry, Pakistani mulberry (we dallied longest here!), tangerine lemon, limequat
Edible flowers: pineapple guava, calendula, mallow, alyssum, daylily, hollyhock petal
After the tour our Del Rio experience continued in downtown Sacramento, where we ate lunch at Hot Italian, which uses many of the farm’s products.
In early August, APLD-CA Sacramento District hosted a table at Harvest Day, the annual educational event of the Sacramento County Master Gardeners held at the Fair Oaks Horticultural Center. Pictured are District President Martin Carrión van Rijn and Secretary Bernadette Balics.