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Class Descriptions

Urban Gardening
listed alphabetically

GREEN means GO These classes are OPEN for registration
RED means STOP,THIS CLASS IS FULL contact us to get on the waiting list
, please check back later.

Pre-registration is required and exact location is given once you have registered.


Many classes will repeat if there is enough interest. If a class is past or you do not get in on time,
please contact us and we will let you know if another session is forming.
Classes are for age 12 and up unless otherwise indicated.



Raised Bed and Container Gardening: Edibles
TBA 2015
Instructor: Kitty Sharkey
Lcation: East Oakland
Cost: $35-70
sliding scale
Growing edible plants in containers has many advantages for the urban gardener. Whether you have limited space, poor soil, or problems with gophers and other pests, container gardening may be a alternative solution to planting directly in the ground. In this class we will explore different types of planting containers including ones you can make yourself, growing vertically, soils and amendments, what types of plants to grow including annual and perennial fruits and vegetables, and caring for container plants. Seeds or starts will be available for you to take home and try in your own garden.

Bare Root: Selection & Planting of Your Urban Orchard
Saturday February 21, 2015 2-4pm
Instructor:K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
Enjoy the amazing taste of fresh sun ripened fruit from your own backyard! This course will lead you through selection and planting and general care of fruit trees and berries., including consideration of site selection, planting techniques, tricks for maximizing fruit production in small spaces and best varieties for our East Bay climate.

Biochar for Soil Fertility and Eco-Resilience
Instructor:Paul Taylor
TBA 2015
Location: Fruitvale
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
Come learn about the multiple benefits of Biochar for home-scale gardeners and commercial and small-scale land use. Biochar is a 2,000 year-old practice that converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and mitigate climate change. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and native soil management practices. In this presentation Paul Taylor, author of The Biochar Revolution will discuss the specific benefits of using biochar in agriculture as well as potential global benefits through more widespread use. We'll learn how to build simple devices for making biochar at home and we'll see one of these devices in action. We'll also learn how to blend and apply biochar to enhance soil fertiility in the garden as well as how it can be used in vermiponics, aquaponics and hydroponics. Copies of the book, The Biochar Revolution will be available for purchase as well as small Biochar ovens.

Dormant Season Fruit Tree Grafting
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Saturday February 21 2015 10am-12:30pm
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale plus $10 supply fee
Grafting is a wonderful way to make more from less in a small urban orchard and begin to explore the joy of variety in fruiting plants. In this class we will learn and practice methods which may be used for grafting dormant scion (cuttings) onto both rootstock and mature trees. You will gain an understanding of plant propagation and the role of grafting, the basic science of grafting, which fruits which are compatible, which take to grafting more readily and tools needed. We will then get hands on practice and each participant will go home with at least two grafted apple trees.

Drip Irrigation: Occupy the Flow!
TBA 2015
Instructor: Jeremy Watts
Location: South Berkeley
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
In times of drought it is more important than ever to use water wisely and get it exactly where it needs to go. A drip irrigation system delivers more water to the roots of plants and wastes less through evaporation. In this class we will cover options, parts and installation of a drip irrigation system. Starting with how to assess your water flow we’ll learn about timers, gallons per hour, how to deal with plants that have different water needs, how to create zones and how all those bits and pieces fit together. Learn how to set up an initial system that can change as your garden changes and how to maintain an existing system. As a bonus we'll learn the benefits of using mulch--both to cover all those black plastic drip lines and to keep the water in the soil where it belongs. We'll be working hands on to set up a simple drip system on site using traditional drip irrigation components as well as a few household items that can be used for some cool DIY hacks.

Food Forests, Plant Guilds and Polycultures
TBA 2015
Instructor: Giancarlo Muscardini
Location: Berkeley, 4th St
sliding scale
Perennial Food Forests are a much beloved element of permaculture design, yet most food forest experimentation has been done in the tropics, where plants grow lushly year round. Come learn the ins and outs of temperate food forests and see how the DaTerra family food forest is weathering the drought. After a tour of the property we’ll learn the theory and practice of assembling perennial plant guilds, the different roles that each plant play within them and how to aseemble several guilds into a functioning food forest. We'll hear about experiments in tropical regions and how to take those ideas and apply them in our own climate including tips for maintenance and pitfalls to avoid. Then we'll get hands-on practice assembling a guild. As a bonus we’ll touch on polycultures, which utilize some of the same principles in the annual vegetable garden.

Native Bees & Native Plants: Pollination to the People
TBA 2015
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This is an introduction to pollination ecology, the wild world of bees and pollinator friendly gardening for folks who are curious and want to nurture an awareness for these beloved hardworking critters. There are over 25,000 species of bees worldwide, 4000 in the US and 1000 in California. We will learn about the lifecycles and biology of honey bees, and native bees, the differences between the two, the special relationship between bees and flowers and what you can provide to support more bee and insect life in your garden. We learn to how to tell the difference between a bee, a wasp and a fly and how to identify a few of our local native bees. We will also introduce the idea of api-centric beekeeping and offer possibilities for natural beekeeping. We'll taste some honey, observe both honey bees and native bees at work, and get the lowdown on Colony Collapse Disorder.

Organic Gardening 101
Sundayy March 29, 2015 10am-4pm
K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
This day long course will introduce you to the essentials and foolproof basics of organic gardening. In the first part of the day we'll learn about dirt, including soil types, tilling and amending,options for composting and sheet mulching, cover crops and more. In the second half of the class we will focus on plants: seeds and satrts, sun and shade, water, weeds and garden planning. There will be lots to touch and feel, garden tour, and break out exercises including hands-on work in the garden. Bring your questions and get your hands dirty! This class is for beginning gardeners and those wanting to learn more about organic perspectives and techniques

Organic Gardening for the Second Half of the Year (Late Summer & Fall)
TBA 2015
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
$45-75 sliding scale
This class will introduce you to gardening basics with a focus on what is happening in the garden from August through the following spring. We will talk about basic soil amending, sheet mulching, Fall and winter garden crops, Bay Area watering issues for summer and Fall and more. hands-on projects. Everyone will go home with couple 6-packs of early season seed.

Urban Berry Patch
TBA 2015
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $25-55
sliding scale
For many people fresh berries are a manna from heaven. If you like them from the store, you are going to be even more enthusiastic when you pick them right from your own berry plants, warmed by the sun! And lucky for us, many berries thrive in our area! This course will cover selection, planting and care of the major berries for our area. We will talk about Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Huckleberries and Mulberries as well as some lesser known berries.

Urban Orchard: Care and Pruning of Backyard Fruit Trees
TBA 2015
Instructor: Molly Bolt
Location: South Berkeley
Cost: $50-80
sliding scale
Do you want to get the most out of your yard? Are you thinking of adding fruit trees, or do you want to take better care of the ones you have? This class is for you! This full-day workshop will offer a comprehensive look at caring for your backyard orchard. Participants will learn basic tree identification, nursery specimen selection, desirable structure for mature trees, how to train young trees, pruning techniques, when in the year to prune each species, and how to diagnose and treat the most common conditions affecting orchards. Integrated pest management strategies will be covered, with a focus on preserving beneficial insects. We'll evaluate tree placement in the yard and discuss strategies for effective irrigation and fertilization. Participants are encouraged to come with pictures of their trees or drawings of their yards as examples to analyze. A large portion of the day will be hands-on practice doing mid-season structural pruning on plums and apples. Other species discussed may include citrus, olive, pomegranate, fig, apricot, persimmon and almond. Please bring hand pruners and a wood saw if available; instructor has extras if necessary.

Urban Orchard Care: Winter Pruning
Saturday January 17, 2015 10am-1pm

Instructor: Molly Bolt
Location: South Berkeley

Cost: $40-65 sliding scale
This hands-on class will cover the basics of reconstruction, aesthetic and fruit tree pruning. Participants will practice assessment and pruning skills, as well as some common insect and disease identification. We will also discuss seasons for pruning, tree anatomy, and best installment practices. Bring hand tools if you have them. Class is outdoors. Raindate: Same time following weekend.

Winter Gardening Essentials
Sunday January 18 2015 10am-3pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
$50-85 sliding scale
In the cold time of year time when the soil and plants are resting, there are still many important tasks to be accomplished in the garden to prepare for a spring and summer bounty. This class will cover winter gardening essentials including garden planning, bed preparation, seed selection & seed starting, bare root fruit selection & planting, dormant season care of perrenial fruit & shrubs, basic pruning, cover cropping, composting and basic mushroom cultivation. The class will include a tour of the winter garden, lecture & hands-on..

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