Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Before" pics Sunset Magazine's One Block Party contest with Team Found Fruit

The first round of pics we sent in were our baselines, to establish the "before" look at our gardens and projects. Meet the team and take a look!

The first group of pictures come from Michele and Jamie's yard. Michele plays in a "green" rock band for kids and is one of the founders of Foundfruit.com, and Jamie is a full time artist who paints with glitter. We're broke bohemians who live in a working class multicultural neighborhood in Oakland and grow the majority of our food so that we can eat the organic local produce we love. There are no grocery stores in our neighborhood, only corner stores with the occasional onion or potatoes. We barter fruits and veggies, jam, and eggs with neighbors, which inspired Kim and Michele to start Found Fruit as a community outreach forum for food sharing and local sustainable living practices. Our backyard is filled with raised beds built with reclaimed wood, a kenyan top bar beehive, rain catchment barrels and citrus trees, and we are in the process of transforming our front yard into an edible oasis. The side yard houses our chicken coop and the girls free range under a massive prickly pear cactus. We drive an old Mercedes that runs on 100% used vegetable oil donated from local restaurants.

Picture 1 The front yard with pear, nectarine, and orange tree. The centerpiece of the yard is an herb spiral which we built using recycled soil and found rock. It's home to 22 different herbs. There are pea and bean towers made of bamboo, blackberry vines growing along the fence and blueberry and huckleberry bushes tucked in among the roses. We're planning to build mounds here for squash and melons.

Picture 2 We spent Sunday clearing the winter garden from our middle raised bed and amending the soil. Jamie planted seeds for cucumbers, beets, carrots, and eggplant.

Picture 3 The chickens enjoying the outer leaves and buggy parts leftover from our harvest.

Picture 4 We gathered up the snails we found while managing the garden. We're feeding them cornmeal for an escargot trial run. Our chihuahua Mini Wolf was perplexed.

Picture 5 The Kenyan Top Bar beehive in full swing of Spring. Taken during our last hive inspection in April.


Nola Martin, 75years old, retired from the City of Oakland Office of Parks and Recreation, where she worked as Recreation Center Director for 49 years. She implemented fitness programs, gardening, and arts and crafts to underserved areas of Oakland. For the past 50 years Nola has been planting fruit trees at her home in East Oakland.

This jungle of a yard is home to 9 fruit trees! Plum, cherry, grapefruit, loquat, persimmon etc. and blackberries too.


Kim and Oletta are excited to participate with the One Block Feast as part of Team Found Fruit. They are renting the perfect home in Oakland to grow year round fruit and vegetables. They chose this home for its sizeable blank slate back yard and its potential to be transformed into an urban oasis. Over the past 6 months, they added raised beds, fruit trees, flowers and a half wine barrel pond with a solar powered fountain, aquatic plants and home to 4 goldfish. Even though Kim and Oletta will not occupy their home forever, the fruit trees were planted with a pay it forward philosophy so that the next renters may benefit from the bounty of the trees they added.

Kim is Program Officer for a national nonprofit. She provides grants to preschool facilities for renovation and construction. Her grants include greening children's play yards with gardens and natural materials. She is also a gardener, forager and fisherwoman who grew up on farm in Eastern Pennsylvania where she has fond memories of bartering for food from neighbors. Back then, each neighbor had something to contribute. One produced honey, another apple cider and Kim and her brother sold eggs around the block. Kim believes these same barter networks can happen in urban areas. That is what inspired her to co-create www.foundfruit.com with Michele Senitzer and to enter the One Block Feast contest.

Oletta is an Account Director for a San Francisco advertising agency. She was raised in Charleston, SC and is a self-proclaimed “City Girl” but had the benefit of a grandmother who loved to garden and kept flowers and vegetables in any section of her yard where she could find viable soil. She believes there’s not a more satisfying meal than the one from food you grow in your own yard.

Photo 1 is of the garden before the transformation. This photo was taken in September 2010

Photo 2 and 3 is how the garden looks 5/6/11.

Photo 3 is a before photo of the upper bed as it was getting sheet mulched.

Photo 4 is an after photo of the upper bed with squash, beans and a Donut Peach Tree planted.

My name is Kitty Sharkey, and I am an urban homesteader. In three years, I’ve transformed a dilapidated foreclosed house into a garden oasis and working farm named Havenscourt Homestead. Although I have a small vegetable garden, as an urban homesteader I chose to focus on meat and dairy production. Goats, chickens, ducks, quail, rabbits, and honeybees all earn their keep producing milk, eggs, meat, and honey while enjoying the freedom to free range and express their true nature. My goal is to produce 75% of my own food year around. Right now, I’m at about 50%. But in the summer when my garden is in full production, that figure is closer to 90%.

The first picture is of my vegetable garden. It’s only 72 sq feet. I practice intensive gardening, so I use every square inch as well as growing vertically. As the summer progresses, vines will make their way up the trellises to produce a wide variety of items that would take up far too much space grown in a traditional manner. My garden is definitely 3-D!

The second picture is of me and some of my critters out in the barnyard. My goats not only provide me with milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, but they also serve as therapy animals. We enjoy going to schools, fairs, and other community events together, spreading the word about urban homesteading and how wonderful goats are. The kids in the neighborhood come over to play with them quite often. I think people around here have finally gotten used to seeing me walk my goats rather than a dog.

photo credit Lori Eanes


Todd and Kate Voyageur, a carpenter and freelance bookkeeper, live in Oakland with their son Jonah.

Jonah Voyageur holding their chick Harry Potter.

A shot from the garden.

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