The Latest Dirt - Nov 2023
EBMUD Highlights Richmond Low Water Garden
Article and Photos by Simone Adair
“A demonstration garden is going to be a garden that showcases water conservation and sustainable landscaping best principles so that people walking by or visiting the space can learn about that garden and hopefully implement some of those practices at their homes,” Bertetto explained.
Bowman then discussed the history of the Richmond Low Water Garden. “It was a conversation we had with the UC Master Gardeners and the City of Richmond to work out roles and responsibilities and then to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).”
Next, Bowman introduced Dawn Kooyumjian, Coordinator for the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. “Dawn provides programmatic oversight and volunteer management to a vibrant, highly active Master Gardener program. She helped bring all of this together with passionate Master Gardeners and City staff.”
Dawn then described the UC Master Garden program, which she explained helped to understand how this garden serves and functions. “We are educators. We function as an arm of the University. The mission of our Program is to extend research–based information for home horticulture, pest management and sustainable landscape practices for the residents of California.”
Dawn also noted that CoCoMG had established gardens in Walnut Creek and Antioch when this opportunity came up. Both of those gardens focus on edibles. “We did not have a garden anywhere in West County. Also, the weather is very different here than in other parts of the county, and we want to give very locally based information.
Next, Bowman brought up the four Placemaking Principles: Community network and vision – different stakeholders gaining knowledge to develop place; Using a collaborative planning approach to promote urban design based on notions of home and social cohesion; Function and design - functionality for people vs design objectives; Iterative development – step by step process of testing and implementation; Overcoming obstacles – dealing with constraints as it relates to power and resources. She then broke everyone into breakout groups to discuss the most essential ingredient to creating a show-stopper demonstration garden.
Afterward, there was a lively conversation. Jeremy Peck , Garden Manager from The Gardens at Heather Farm, described their demonstration garden in Walnut Creek, “We had a water conservation garden that we wanted to expand upon and now call a Climate Discovery Garden. You could view it up a hill but couldn’t interact with the garden, so we cut a path through it. Now people walk through there and can experience the garden and be part of that space.”
Senior Associate Landscape Architect at RHAA John Martin said, “We always try to get community buy-in at the outset of projects so that you do have stakeholders vested in the project from the beginning.”
The event ended with a tour of the garden. Project Leads Brian Kerss and Dan Lent, as well as UC Master Gardeners Fletcher Oakes and Liz Rottger, were on hand to answer questions.
Bowman described the day, “The event showcased the incredible force of the UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County and City of Richmond Parks and Landscaping Division to create an exquisite garden for relaxing and learning!
“This garden inspires and educates visitors on incorporating sustainable landscaping practices in their yards. The UC Master Gardeners were undeterred by significant challenges. Their commitment, knowledge, and passion turned this garden into a gem for everyone to enjoy. The UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County and City of Richmond partnership, with support from EBMUD, is an excellent model to sustain and activate an urban demonstration garden.”