Category: News

By Chris Treadway - West County Times
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A local group took another step in its effort to help needy communities provide for themselves.

The El Cerrito-based group Self-Sustaining Communities received a new donation of food-bearing trees Nov. 19 and delivered them to two impoverished West County neighborhoods.

More than 500 olive trees and 500 culinary bay trees (not the native California bays we're familiar with) from McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, along with 75 geraniums, were the latest contribution negotiated by the group.

Self-Sustaining Communities is dedicated to bringing neighborhoods the means and knowledge to provide for themselves and has worked with Northern California growers to bring more than 4,500 fruit, nut and olive trees to West County in the past year.

The deliveries are increasingly being directed to neighborhoods most in need.

"These are going to the Iron Triangle and North Richmond neighborhoods," Self-Sustaining Communities founder Linda Schneider said of the new batch. "We're taking them to a centralized location so residents can plant them to create neighborhood food and neighborhood greening."

Accompanying the trees are $900 worth of garden tools, provided by a grant from the Berkeley-based Strong Foundation for Environmental Values ( and donations from First Methodist Church in San Rafael.

Schneider noted that the growers understand the potential value of their contribution and are "enjoying their participation in this meaningful process."

Self-Sustaining Communities is also building an educational "city farm" demonstration project. That effort started in September at a Richmond property owned by local businessman and entrepreneur Kevin Hampton, and has engaged neighbors in installing raised planter beds, planting trees and installing bee hives and chickens coops that will all provide a source of fresh and healthy nutrition.

Hampton has become a backer of the self-sustaining concept and helps make deliveries each time a new shipment of trees arrives. "He understands this work and wants to help facilitate and see that it's done," Schneider said.

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