Skip to main content

A garden...saved from wildfire...helps feed the community

All that remains of a tree...just 100 feet from the barn that was saved from extensive fire damage.

It's impossible to truly get a sense for the power of a raging wildfire just from viewing video footage.  The CZU Lightning Complex fire - caused by an extremely unusual thunderstorm that spit thousands of bolts of lightning into unusually dry forests - spanned a huge swath of coastal area from just south of the town of Pescadero nearly reaching the outskirts of the city of Santa Cruz.  Almost 1,500 structures were destroyed by the fire.

Walking uphill onto the grounds of the Rancho Seimpre Verde tree farm that boarders the the Pacific Coast Highway, to the left and right are huge eucalyptus trees, blackened well up their trunks by the flames.  The ground is grey & black ash.  As far as you can see looking up onto the ridge, nothing but charred remains.  You can't imagine how hot the temperatures must've been.  

Handle grips melted off of a wheelbarrow.

Incredible that the sign survived.  Whatever was in the sacks to the right did not.

The RSV Tree Farm has been in the Kosek family for many years.  Nickie Irvine, an ardent GROW San Mateo supporter, knows Jake Kosek very well and arranged for our visit to the farm yesterday.  The farm is known as a Christmas tree farm and reading the comments on the gofundme page created to help Jake and his family recover from the fire - local families have many fond memories of visiting RSV during the holidays. 

From what I gather, Jake is a geography professor at UC Berkeley.  Amongst the conifer trees grown for sale is an apple orchard, field of sunflowers and the most beautiful garden with rows upon rows of every kind of produce you can imagine.  Jake regularly takes produce from the garden to the local food bank in Berkeley.  With his attention diverted to rehabilitating the farm's electrical and irrigation systems, he kindly opened the garden to us to harvest for the Samaritan House Food Pharmacy.

Nickie & John harvesting lettuce, kale, swiss chard & cilantro.

It was somewhat surreal to be picking the most beautiful cherry tomatoes in a lush, green garden to the smell of smoke & ash.  At one point during the fire, the garden must have been almost entirely surrounded by fire, yet the greens, tomatoes, cucumbers all went unscathed.  And pumpkins - wow.  

Looking up at the fire scorched ridge from the garden.

A stark contrast:  an amazing cherry tomato harvest in the foreground;  in the background, the stumps of trees at the edge of the garden that needed to be removed due to fire damage.

By early afternoon, our cars were loaded up with tomatoes, kale, swiss chard, cilantro, lettuce, apples, pears, sunflowers and pumpkins.  

 After spending the evening washing & packaging - this morning our harvest from RSV, along with donations from other gardeners in the community, was delivered to the Food Pharmacy for distribution to Food Pharmacy clients - who will receive them this afternoon.  Fresh produce - just harvested - and free of charge.  Thank you RSV Tree Farm and the Kosek family - and all of our local gardeners for making nutrient rich, flavorful ingredients available to those in our community who need it most.

A pumpkin patch at the Food Pharmacy.


Popular posts from this blog

Peaches and more

Yesterday we handed out the sweetest of peaches thanks to a generous donation from Circle Foot Permaculture .   Along with the quarts of peaches, we also provided Samaritan House Food Pharmacy clients a handout with nutritional information on peaches - how they impact your blood sugar - and a recipe for a Roasted Peach Parfait.  Here are links to the handout: Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (English) Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (Spanish) It all seems somewhat routine at this point:  gather donations of locally grown produce quickly pull together helpful nutritional information based on the week's donations In retrospect, this is the culmination of 3 years of effort to create a network of local gardeners, foragers and volunteers - with a goal of becoming a reliable source of fresh produce for lower income families struggling with diabetes and other health disorders.    While it has been known for some time that eating fruits & vegetables can positively impact a person's he

The December Garden

Snap Peas (& a garden gnome!) Beresford Park Community Garden December 15, 2021 It's hard to describe just how good the winter gardening is in San Mateo.  While most gardens across the country have long gone into a frosty hibernation - we're, at long last,  getting the rain we've been without for the last 9 months or more.  It's finally time to turn off the irrigation systems and let Mother Nature do her thing.  The new moisture is creating a full-on nutrient soup that flows through our soil, fueling an explosion of activity within the soil food web.   Fungal activity is pushing mushrooms to the surface.  Our favorite spring flowers of nasturtium, poppies, sweat peas, borage and yarrow are in a race to establish their growing territory.  And, thankfully, the newly moist soil makes pulling up oxalis, mallow and bindweed sprouts a bit easier. As you would expect, plants thriving now in the garden were initially planted out in the fall.  Those crowns of cauliflower and

Getting Started: Wine Barrel Planters

Gardening in a small, urban space requires a bit of creativity.  Our challenges are many: buildings & trees frequently block sunlight;  various critters like to snack on new seedlings and just ripe fruits & vegetables; and here in San Mateo, irrigation is a must.  To increase your probability of gardening success, consider adding recycled wine barrels into your urban garden.    Having tried many types of growing containers over the years, the wine barrel has made it to the top of my list.  My galvanized tubs always seemed to need more water than wooden barrels - perhaps due to the different heating/cool properties of the metal vs. wood?  Aesthetically, a recycled barrel looks like it's been there for years - which I love.  And the smell!  There is no comparison. Cost is definitely a consideration.  A wine barrel at Home Depot is $40 whereas a 35 gallon galvanized tub is $55.  You might say that growing in the ground is $0.00 - but in some locations, the extra 18 inches off