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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cloverdale Comments: Spring Gardening Resources

With special thanks to Melanie Bagby, Cloverdale Planning Commissioner, avid gardener, healthful eating advocate, and darned good cook, for her research and contributions to this column.

Ideal climate. Abundant flower and produce gardens. Lush fruit trees. Quality nurseries and expert landscapers. Successful, welcoming garden clubs. Volunteers who donate, glean and distribute excess produce. All nurtured by agricultural roots that run as deep as our tradition of home-grown flowers, plants and food harvests shared with family, friends and neighbors.
No wonder that this spring, as in the 150 or so past, Cloverdalians of all ages and skill levels will get growing once again!

We are especially delighted this year to have easy access to a fabulous new place to network and share food gardening information and resources. Called "iGROW" it is the latest initiative of Health Action, a county-wide collaborative, on which I serve, established in 2007 by the Board of Supervisors and supported by the Sonoma County Health Services. iGROW's goals include promoting healthy and active lifestyles by supporting the efforts of all of us who want to grow, access, share, prepare and eat healthy food.

A one-stop website,, is a clearing house for all kinds of information of interest and use to beginners and pros alike. You'll find workshops, classes and advice on everything from how to get started to how to cook what you grow plus garden maps, lists of clubs and events, water saving tips, ideas on creating "edible landscaping" and a whole lot more.
But this idea of growing healthy, affordable food isn't just for adults. Kids love seeing something they helped plant and tend start to grow and ripen. Even finicky eaters will love to help harvest, cook and actually eat what they grow. There's something about saying "my" fruits and vegetables that greatly increases their kid appeal.

You don't need a garden, much money or even time to give kids, or yourself, a joyous experience. A tomato plant on the balcony or a pot of basil on your window sill are inexpensive enough to buy at your local nursery and need little work or room; yet they yield rewards in good eating along with the many benefits derived from nature's beauty and the personal satisfaction of cultivating it.

Better yet, join a community garden. We have three in Cloverdale and we want more.
Come to think of it, we enjoy a number of free or low cost gardening organizations, activities and resources such as:

The "Green Thumb Garden Club" welcomes new members, including novice gardeners, on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. They help with community service projects and often have expert guest speakers. Membership is $15/year. (Call Debbie, 894-7419.)
• Our community gardens at Cloverdale High School, the Senior Center, and the King/Jones Garden all have waiting lists so volunteers are always welcome to help identify, donate and create new ones. (Call Maggie at the Senior Center, 894-4826.)

"Harvesting Cloverdale's Generosity" started in 2009. Thanks to volunteers as varied as grandmothers and 4-H Club kids as well as the many generous produce donors from around our city, 1 1/2 tons--yes, 3,425 pounds!--of delicious, vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables that might otherwise have gone to waste were gleaned last harvest season for distribution to our Food Pantry and residents in need. Founders, Joan and Lavonne, would love to have more gleaners and produce donors. (Call Joan at 894-0971 or Lavonne at 894-7540.)

• The Alexander Valley Regional Medical Center offers information on how to incorporate gardening and fresh produce as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. (Sign up for their newsletter at

So, thanks to all this help, encouragement and inspiration Cloverdale is both ready and set. Now--let's get growing!