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April – June 2015

The second quarter of 2015 was a productive few months for the natives garden at Alemany Farm. Work parties focused on clearing out and planting in the riparian habitat zone, and weeding/mulching/planting in the education circle. We also assisted Bonnie Sherk’s A Living Library group with planting and pathway enhancements near A Living Library’s redwood circle. There is now a more well-defined pathway connection between the Living Library Nature Walk, the Redwood Circle and the pathways through the natives garden.

The crop row bed ends that function as habitat and forage for pollinators continue to thrive and areas that were previously mulched are filling in with more vigorous and hardy native species. We will continue to water until the first few rains of fall and will hold off planting until we have a ground saturating weather event. We are all crossing our fingers that we do indeed experience an El Niño winter.

The search continues for an additional steward to assist Craig and myself in monthly workdays and planning for the future. We have a few potential candidates and will be getting them more involved over the course of the next few months. We continue to work with Julie Walsh, our new volunteer coordinator from Hands on Bay Area, who has drummed up much-appreciated support for our monthly workdays.

We are still implementing Iris Clearwater’s 2012 “Natives Site Care Guidelines” and will reassess objectives for each habitat zone towards the end of the calendar year. We are holding consistent workdays every third Sunday from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Craig is leading an additional workday on the first Monday of every month 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

We are very much looking forward to a wetter fall/winter in the garden and working with the diverse groups of volunteers that are attracted to the farm. If you would like to be added to our email listserv for the garden, please email alemanynatives@gmail.com and provide your contact information.

Regards,

Jim Cartan & Craig Heckman

 


 

January – March, 2015

After working in the native garden for what amounts to ten years between us, we thought it would be useful for Friends of Alemany Farm and Alemany Farm supporters to hear about accomplishments and plans for the future on a quarterly basis. We also hope these updates will maintain volunteer backing and spark interest in volunteers new to the area, the farm, or the native garden in particular.

California native plants are adapted to drought. The biological stock in the Alemany native garden have weathered (pun intended) extreme dry spells for thousands of years, although human climatological records only go back 150. While we fret about water usage, storage, and consumer behavior, these amazing specimens have adapted hardy root systems that tap water deep in the sandy loam soil of the farm.

The established shrubs, bunch grasses, and herbaceous species in the native garden continue to persevere through the increasingly dry years. It is only newly planted individuals that require consistent irrigation to develop root systems that are adaptable to what nature offers. With the help of volunteers, we have continued to plant woody and herbaceous species propagated on the roof of Craig’s home from seed and cuttings collected in the garden. We have also just procured a generous donation from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department native nursery in the form of bunch grasses and shrubs that will be planted in our grassland, hedgerow, and upland scrub habitat areas. We will continue to water these new plantings through the spring and summer to carry them over to a hopefully wet winter.

When we are not planting, we are weeding and mulching to reduce competition for our established and growing natives. Luckily, a lack of water has also kept the amount of weeds down but the work is still endless. Our riparian habitat area has seen an increase in the mat-forming invasive, kikuyu grass, and we continue to clear the stream 2-3 times a year. In the month of February, in collaboration with Brett Stevens, volunteers cleared thatch and created a frog pond in the cattail and tule reed patch. We just recently re-mulched the pathway through the garden and sheet mulched woody plantings in the education circle.

For the first quarter of 2015, with the help of Julie Walsh, our new volunteer coordinator from Hands on Bay Area, and borrowed volunteers from the food production workdays, we have seen good support for the native garden. Ben Shasby, our former volunteer coordinator, has moved on but continues to be a stalwart supporter of Alemany Natives.

We are currently updating our volunteer lists for announcements and trying to find an additional steward to assist Craig and myself in monthly workdays and planning for the future. We are still working within the management framework designed by Iris Clearwater and reassess objectives for each habitat area towards the end of the calendar year. We are holding consistent workdays every third Sunday from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Craig is formalizing a workday on the first Monday of every month 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. To join our email list, contact us at alemanynatives@gmail.com.

We are very much looking forward to spring in the garden and working with the diverse groups of volunteers that are attracted to the farm.

Regards,

Jim Cartan & Craig Heckman
Alemany Natives Co-Stewards

Please note this related workshop at Alemany Farm in August:

Native Plant Landscaping for the Bay Area
Sunday, August 16, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Instructors: Jim Cartan & Vicki Wilderman

This workshop will focus on how native plants can be used to enhance yards and gardens or other spaces. Join these experienced native plant stewards to explore the native areas at the Farm and learn about the benefits of and various uses for native plants. Bring your curiosity and your questions!
Jim Cartan stewards Alemany Farm’s native plant demonstration garden, and Vicki Wilderman is a volunteer co-manager of Alemany Farm.

If you would like to attend the workshop, email us at community.gardeners@gmail.com.  Suggested donation is $20 – no one turned away for lack of funds.  All donations will benefit Friends of Alemany Farm via our fiscal sponsor, the San Francisco Parks Alliance.