Bay Friendly Gardens 7th Annual Garden Tour

Meet Local Gardeners on the 7th Annual Garden Tour

-Jennifer Ketring, Bay-Friendly Garden Tour Organizer

pondPeering through the salvaged blue windows in one of our wind fences or refilling the old terracotta saucers that have resurfaced as watering holes for my honey bees, I’m reminded of the wealth of ideas I’ve been privy to over the years from visiting with tour host gardeners. This year is no different; although I have to admit I haven’t quite gotten around to building the water feature like we saw in Merry & Meredith’s garden.
Going on the annual Bay-Friendly Garden tour is a fun, and proven, way to find inspiration for your garden. It is also a great chance to meet local gardeners and discover tips for integrating Bay-Friendly practices into your garden design and care.
Locally-owned businesses and non-profits will also be hosting plant sales on tour day. This means you’ll have the chance to not only see a tremendous palette of plants, but also the opportunity to bring some home. Some of the organizations participating in tour day plant sales include LEAF (Local Ecology and Agriculture Fremont), the Emeryville Community Garden and Handsown Nursery.

The 7th annual tour continues to be offered free of charge and will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2010. Pre-registration is required by April 15, 2010. Register now!


Filed under Events, Fruitvale

Homegrown Revolution

I accidentally came across this video the other day, and I have returned to it a number of times since. It is a great inspiration for me and I hope for you too.

Path to Freedom presents ‘A Homegrown Revolution’ A collaboration of selective media clips which feature their urban homestead and farm which focus on the need of radical action — growing food in the city.

This self produced, short music video was shown at Peter Seller’s Cultural Art’s class at UCLA followed by a short presentation by urban farmer, Jules Dervaes founder of Path to Freedom. The class focus was on the art of slow food and among other guests invited were Michael Pollan, Alice Waters and Eric Schlosser.

Like Victory Gardens of yesteryear, start your own homegrown revolution, grow your own food in your back or front yard — for more information visit the urban homesteaders at

Or on their online journal at:

Since the early 80’s the Dervaes family has slowly transformed their ordinary city lot into a self sufficient urban homestead.

1 Comment

Filed under Fruitvale, Life in it...

Radical simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth


Imagine you are first in line at a potluck buffet. The spread includes not just food and water, but all the materials needed for shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. How do you know how much to take? How much is enough to leave for your neighbors behind you—not just the six billion people, but the wildlife, and the as-yet-unborn?

In the face of looming ecological disaster, many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a tangible way of transforming our unsustainable culture. Radical Simplicity is the first book that guides the reader to a personal sustainability goal, then offers a process to monitor progress to a lifestyle that is equitable amongst all people, species, and generations. It employs three tools to help readers begin their customized journey to simplicity:
It builds on steps from Your Money or Your Life so readers can design their own personal economics to save money, get free of debt, and align their work with their values.
It uses refined tools from Our Ecological Footprint so readers can measure how much nature is needed to supply all they consume and absorb their waste.
Combining lyrical narrative, compassionate advocacy, and absorbing science, Radical Simplicity is a practical, personal answer to twenty-first century challenges that will appeal as much to Cultural Creatives and students as to spiritual seekers, policy makers, and sustainability professionals.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading

A Short History of Dimond Canyon and Sausal Creek

Extending from the Montclair hills to Dimond Park near Fruitvale Avenue and Macarthur Boulevard is an expanse of wooded open space called Dimond Canyon. Hundreds of cars drive by the canyon on Park Boulevard every day. Only a few enjoy the wildlife of the canyon at its best, by hiking the trails that run through the woodlands. Some of these trails have been used since people first inhabited these hills.

At the head of the canyon, near Highway 13, Cobbledick Creek (which runs along Scout Road) joins Shephard Creek (which runs under Shepherd Canyon Road). On the bay side of the freeway, near the parking lot of the Montclair Golf Course, these creeks join Palo Seco Creek (which runs through Joaquin Miller Park) and unite to form Sausal Creek which runs through the bottom of Dimond Canyon. Huchiun and Jalquin tribes of Ohlone Indians were concentrated in the area surrounding Dimond Canyon. One well-known Indian village was located in Indian Gulch, the area currently called Trestle Glen. Another known village was located on the campus of Holy Names College. Dimond Canyon was between them. The hillsides of the canyon would have been great sites for harvesting acorns, berries, and edible plants, and hunting for birds, fish, and other wildlife.

In 1820, the land including Dimond Canyon was granted to Luis Maria Peralta. Peralta owned all the land from El Cerrito to San Leandro, but he chose to place his first home on the flatlands between Peralta and Sausal Creeks. Peralta divided his land among his sons in 1842 giving the San Antonio section including Dimond Canyon and his original home to his son Antonio Maria Peralta.

Around 1847, Europeans set up camp in the upper hills of Antonio Peralta’s land, and started logging the San Antonio redwood forest. In 1850, the area’s first steam sawmill was built at Palo Seco Creek in the head of Dimond Canyon. A logging road high on the side of the Canyon, now Park Boulevard, was used to transport the logs through Dimond Canyon. By 1860, ten years later, the San Antonio forest was logged completely.

In 1867, Hugh Dimond purchased the canyon. Before he came to settle the land, Caspar Hopkins, another early settler of the Fruitvale District, formed the Sausal Creek Water Company. Hopkins built a dam at the upper end of the canyon near current Highway 13. He piped the water down the hill along the East Side of the creek to a reservoir at what is currently Waterhouse Road. The water was used to supply the Fruitvale District and for a short time all of East Oakland after the company was bought by Anthony Chabot’s Contra Costa Water Company. The reservoir later became part of the East Bay Water Company and remained until the early 1920’s. Maps of this early period show a road passing the reservoir along the current Waterhouse Road, and extending up toward the dam in the direction of Bridgeview Drive along what is currently the Upper Dimond Canyon Trail.

Hugh Dimond retired to his land in 1877 on the fortune he made in the mercantile and liquor trades during the Gold Rush. He built his home in the lower stretches of the canyon in what is currently Dimond Park. In 1896, the year of Hugh Dimond’s death, his son Dennis moved the adobe bricks from the original Peralta home to the area of Dimond Park, and built a studio cottage. The main Dimond house burned in 1913, leaving the adobe cottage. Four years later, the Dimond family sold the property to the city.

Dimond Canyon then became home to the Boy Scouts. In 1919, Camp Sheoak was conducted by the Oakland-Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Dimond Canyon. In 1924, the adobe cottage in Dimond Park became the headquarters of Boy Scout Troop 10.



At the head of the canyon, in the area of the current Scout Road and Montera and Joaquin Miller schools, was located Camp Dimond, a 28 acre summer camp for Scouts. In a 1933 scout magazine, camp director Homer J. Bemiss invited scouts for $14.00 for two weeks (including meals) to enjoy the 140 ft. mess hall, the 300,000 gallon swimming pool, the bird sanctuary, and nature den. Accommodations included 24 cabins, tents, and an Indian village where scouts could live in tipis. The site also boasted a stockade built upon the “military crest” at the top of the canyon with a view of Dimond Canyon and East Oakland.

During the 1920’s development was occurring in areas surrounding the canyon. By 1926, Walter H. Leimert had built the largest single span bridge in the west, spanning the canyon at Leimert Boulevard. This opened up the way for his development of the Oakmore Highlands.

In 1935, the Works Progress Administration began work deep in the canyon. Initially they were funded to clear landslides and build fire trails. In 1937, the WPA constructed a sanitary sewer that runs adjacent to Sausal Creek under the creek-side trail that runs from Dimond Park to slightly beyond the Leimert Bridge. In 1939 and 1940, further work was done to channelize the creek in concrete and stabilize its banks.

In 1946, Oakland Park Superintendent William Mott Jr., who had designed the Woodminster Cascades in 1937, had grand plans for Dimond Canyon. Engineering studies were done for construction of a 350-foot long, 80-foot high dam in the Canyon with the idea of creating Inspiration Lake at the site of the current Montclair Golf Course. The lake was to include a bathhouse, boathouse, and clubhouse, and a 20-mile long scenic parkway along the southeastern wall of the canyon. Much of this road was to run along the former reservoir road that is currently the Upper Dimond Canyon Trail. In the 1950’s, construction of the Mountain Boulevard Freeway, later called the Warren Freeway or Highway 13, interrupted these plans. Plans for the lake were changed to plans for a driving range, and in 1961, the Montclair Golf Course opened at the head of the canyon. Sausal Creek is buried under the course.

From 1975 to 1995, the trails in the Dimond Canyon area were developed and maintained by a joint agreement between the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Park District. During the early years of the agreement, CETA (Comprehensive Education and Training Program) funds were used for trail maintenance and to construct a bridge at the Monterey Boulevard end of the Upper Dimond Canyon Trail. During the later part of the agreement, trail maintenance was reduced as funding cuts to both agencies limited their ability to maintain the site. The CETA bridge installed in 1977 was removed after someone tried to cut the support cables. A small concrete bridge was built to cross the trail in its place.

In 1996, the Friends of Sausal Creek was formed with support from the City of Oakland, the Aquatic Outreach Institute, and the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The group is interested in the entire Sausal Creek Watershed, and has organized clean-up hikes within the canyon, water quality monitoring of the creek, and has planted a native plant garden and a riparian restoration site at the lower end of the hiking trail in Dimond Park.

by Eleanor Dunn (longtime Friend and Acting Treasurer), from The Montclarion, March 24, 1998


Filed under History

Life on Sausal Creek, 1868-1888


In the spring of 1868 I sold my lovely home, 524 Post Street, for $18,000, and once more set out to find a suburban residence where large grounds, fresh air, freedom from obnoxious neighbors, a horse and carriage, fruits, flowers, milk and eggs of our own production, should add to our family comforts and gratify my innate love of country life.

The creation of our beautiful home “Alderwood” in Fruitvale, about five miles out of Oakland, was the result of our present removal. For $6,000 I purchased six acres of an apple nursery that had been allowed to grow up, there being no market for the trees. There was a small house which I repaired, thinking we could live in it while the children were at school. But it was close quarters. The location was, however, beautiful–in the bottom of the long narrow valley of Sausal Creek, which penetrated the mountains east of Oakland through a steep, narrow, well-wooded cañon, and only a quarter of a mile below its debouchment from the hills. The place was sheltered from the prevailing northwest winds, and its altitude being 125 feet above sea level, it was rarely visited by fogs. The soil was very rich, and the vegetation consequently rank. The creek meandered through the lot in form like the letter S (it has since been straightened and spoiled) and was lined with huge oaks, laurel alder and buck-eye trees. The large alders of California, a tree resembling the eastern beech, were the most numerous; hence we gave the place the name of “Alderwood.” They were the charm of the place, and bowers fitted with rustic seats, a rustic bridge and summer house (all my own handiwork at early dawn and dewy eve) soon made the most of their beauties. The improvement of this lovely spot was for several years the joy of my life and I was greatly aided therein by the sympathetic and artistic concurrence of my wife.

I designed a large, low, Gothic cottage with wide porches on three sides. The old house, removed to a new location in a bend of the creek, formed a part of it. The apple trees were nearly all dug out and replaced with two hundred and fifty fine cherry trees, peaches, almonds, apricots, etc. The grounds were laid out in winding avenues, lined with cypress and eucalyptus. A new street was opened and fenced on the north side, shortening the drive to Oakland from five to three miles, and our street lines were planted with walnut, fig, and gum trees. A nice barn, carriage house, hen and cow houses, were built and appropriately occupied. I bought four more acres across the creek, on the hillside, and planted thereon 2500 mulberry trees, intending my girls to earn their pocket money by raising silk (a scheme badly addled by Mrs. Grundy), at whose instance I dug out the trees again and converted the lot into a cow pasture.

We widened Fruitvale Avenue from forty to sixty feet; the work of two years ere the cooperation of all the property owners could be secured. The neighbors clubbed together and built a water work which cost $20,000 and has since supplied the vale with water in pipes to every house. We again clubbed together and built the Brooklyn and Fruitvale Horse Railroad across the hills, which is still running [1888] with constantly increasing profit. (I was president both of the water works and the railroad, and did most of the work of organizing and constructing both.)

Around our cottage were lawns, flowering vines, and shrubbery which grew to perfection; and the perfume of violets and jasmine, of roses, melissa, Spanish broom and heliotrope, the tall plumes of pampas grass, the perpetual flowers of the solanum, the massive bloom of the wisteria, the luscious treat of abundant cherries, blackberries, and other fruits, plenty of milk and delicious cream, good horses, comfortable carriages, and fine roads, all these now made our place a heaven on earth for my family and haven of delight for old and new friends, who could not come often enough to please my hospitable wife and daughters. The house was nearly always over-run with company, especially in the season for ripe cherries, and I suppose California cherries are the finest in the world…


Filed under Fruitvale, History, Life in it...

Scraper Bike!

I love this! these kids are having a blast! bikes, video, technology, music, potery and all. There also home grown here in Oakland Ca.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life in it..., Uncategorized

22nd Street

This house is a great old house in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, Ca. It sits on a nice large corner lot and has pleanty of room indoor and out. Oaklands, Fruitvale District seems to be a little known gem of a spot, with excellent weather nearly year round. The area is mainly Latino which adds great spice to the vibe of the neighborhood. I haven’t called on this property yet for a price and details, but will up date this post when I have more info.

From the shot above you can see that with a little elbow grease this house could be brought back to its former splendor, add a drought tolerant mediterranean garden and a beautiful tree out front and this house would be a beautiful place to come home too.

Folks looking to get a lot for the money, and first time home buyers should consider this up and coming neighborhood. With the Fruitvale Transit Village just blocks away, you can get into San Francisco or anywhere Bart goes in a matter of min. Imagine access to the entire bay area from centrally located Fruitvale District in Oakland, California. And when your at home enjoy some of the best weather and culture Northern California has to offer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Real Estate