A Year in the Life of Alameda Backyards

Courtesy photo    Jillian Saxty, ABG’s Project Pick coordinator, displays some 400 pounds of Alameda-grown oranges delivered to Alameda Food Bank recently. Project Pick will safely pick fruit from Island trees that would otherwise go to waste. Fruit tree owners are encouraged to sign up.

The days are shorter now; the nights are cooler. Only one more educational program in the Alameda Backyard Growers’ (ABG) calendar will take place in November on stopping food waste over the holidays. Some apples and persimmons remain to be to picked, but for ABG volunteers, the year is winding to a close. 

This will mark the group’s 10th year in existence, and what a journey it’s been since Amanda MacLean and Janice Edwards called together a meeting of gardeners with the vague idea of helping people during a terrible economic downturn. They were stunned when 35 people showed up. 

Since the creation of ABG’s Project Pick in 2011, we have provided nearly 13 tons of donated fruit to the Alameda Food Bank from the trees in countless yards on our fertile island. In 2019, Project Pick blew past its goal of picking and delivering 5,000 lbs of fruit to the Alameda Food Bank; ABG volunteers have actually picked 6,322 pounds to date! 

Project Pick cordinator Jillian Saxty is a little concerned that picking requests have dropped off this fall. “Where are all the apple and persimmon trees?” she said. Saxby is hoping that Alamedans who need help picking excess fruit will contact Project Pick at info@alamedabackyard growers.org or register their tree at www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org/list-your-tree.

ABG is proud of Project Pick, but the group does so much more. We present free educational programs each month, offer informative film viewings to foster community discussions and publish monthly articles in the Alameda Sun related to edible gardening. ABG is the most popular booth each year at the Alameda Earth Day Festival. A slate of classes is in the works for 2020 on topics that promise to be compelling and relevant. These include carbon farming, seed starting, Alameda’s agricultural history and California native edibles. 

In addition, ABG collaborates with Eric J. Kos at the Sun on Project Tree, a program that enables residents to plant trees, and works with non-profit organizations like StopWaste to reduce food waste in Alameda. 

Like all small nonprofits, ABG relies on the community for both volunteers and financial support in order to run programs and pay for equipment, insurance, room rentals and supplies. To help us help Alameda neighbors during this Season of Thanksgiving, go to the ABG website and click on the “Participate” or “Donate” buttons. That way, we can all have a better, happier, healthier and greener 2020!

ABG is a network of gardeners in Alameda interested in growing food and donating fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. To sign up to help Project Pick, email info@alamedabackyard
growers.org or leave a message at 239-PICK (239-7485).