Sustainable Urban Gardening Speaker Series

When: 2nd Sat. (Feb. – Sept.) from 2 – 4 p.m.
Where: 4500 Lincoln Ave., Oakland, 94602
Cost: $10 in advance through PayPal, $12 at the door or by calling us at 510-866-8482.

All presentations are held outdoors, please wear layers. We will move indoors if there is rain.

Interested in purchasing bulk tickets at a group discount, the full season pass for 15% off, or volunteering? Contact

Thank you to The Rose Foundation for making this workshop series possible and Owl & Co. Books and The Bookmark Bookstore for donating raffle prizes.

2018 schedule coming soon! 

2017 Dates and Topics

Feb. 11: Gardening 101: Everything to Know as a Beginning Gardener Jun. 10: Go from Lawn to Garden with Sheet Mulch
Mar. 11:  The Joys of Drip Irrigation Systems Jul. 8: Natural Pest Management
Apr. 8: Growing Edibles and the Healthy Soil Connection Aug. 12: Container Gardening for All Occasions
May 13: The How and Why of Tree Pruning Sep. 9: Secrets to Fall and Winter Gardening

Saturday, September 9, 2 – 4 p.m.

Secrets to Fall and Winter Gardening


As featured in the East Bay Express

While we are enjoying the wonderful fall weather and the late summer bounty it produces, we can also be looking ahead to our winter vegetable garden.

There is no need to give up gardening as the rains approach as there are a number of wonderful fall crops that can be planted and grown during our winter season.

Planning your winter garden is also a good time to consider raised bed gardening. In this workshop, attendees will learn the concepts and practices of raised bed gardening as well as the fall vegetable selections which thrive in our winter climate.

Tom Branca, past chair of the Landscape Horticulture Dept. at Merritt College, has taught for over 25 years and has presided over a local community garden for the past 26 years. He holds a B.A. in Botany from UC Berkeley and an M.S. in Horticulture from UC Davis.

Saturday, August 12, 2 – 4 p.m.

Container Gardening for All Occasions

Aug-12-Speaker copy

As featured in the East Bay Express

Living in a city means limited gardening space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow a wide variety of plants all year long! Whether you have a backyard or a few sunny windows, container gardening is the perfect way to grow in small spaces or add decorative accents to your home.

Willie Prentiss, Nursery Lead at Orchard Supply Hardware, will be leading this interactive and fun class. The hands-on demonstration will be followed by a 30 minute Q&A session. In this presentation you will learn:

  • Proper soil selection
  • Choosing the right plants for the right place
  • Watering tips and tricks
  • How to tell when your plants need food or water
  • Decorative arrangements and floral designs

Since 1985, Willie Prentiss has donated his expertise in gardening to better the community through teaching, consulting, and participating in landscape design projects. He holds degrees in Landscape Design and Horticulture and joined Orchard Supply Hardware in Berkeley as Nursery Lead in 1985. He is a familiar name in the Oakland and Berkeley gardening communities and when not at work enjoys tending to his own garden.

Saturday, July 8, 2 – 4 p.m.

Natural Pest Management

Critters got you down? Join Mike Irvine for this class on how to deal with pests large and small. We’ll be focusing on natural pest management – ways to prevent and rid your garden of pests without using harsh chemicals that can cause harm to you, your family, your pets, and other wildlife. We’ll also discuss the “good bugs” – pollinators and beneficial insects that you should welcome into your garden! Come prepared with questions about anything from aphids and white fly to gophers and deer.

Mike Irvine is a gardener, teacher, and writer who specializes in growing all things you can eat here in the Bay Area. He has grown food with organic farms, food justice organizations, community gardens, edible landscaping companies, and Sunset magazine’s test garden in Sonoma. He can be reached via his website at

Saturday, June 10, 2 – 4 p.m.

Go From Lawn to Garden with Sheet Mulch

Find out how to go from lawn to garden without removing the grass! StopWaste Educator, Tommy Fenster, will demonstrate the easy, sustainable process called sheet mulching. You’ll learn how to layer cardboard, compost and mulch right on top of the lawn and plant right into it. Sheet mulching materials break down naturally and feed your soil to provide a healthy foundation for healthier plants.

Tommy will provide valuable resource information, including lawn conversion rebates from water utilities, sheet mulch vendors, and take home materials for designing and planting a new garden. Every participant will receive a discount coupon to use at a local StopWaste partner nursery.

This talk is sponsored by StopWaste, a public agency whose mission is to reduce the waste stream in Alameda County by providing tools at home, at work and at school. Tommy Fenster graduated in 2011 with a degree in environmental analysis from Pomona College. He has been working in the environmental field since graduation and at StopWaste since 2013. At StopWaste Tommy works in partnering with community groups to further education and action around composting/recycling, whole home energy efficiency, and the conversion of lawn to gardens. He is also an avid gardener in his free time.

Saturday, May 13, 2 – 4 p.m.

The How and Why of Tree Pruning

Take the mystery out of tree pruning with this hands-on workshop! Learn the basics and leave WITH skills you can start using immediately. Topics covered will include:

  • Tree Identification
  • Pruning Theory
  • Desired Results
  • How to Prune Properly
  • Common Pruning Mistakes
  • Tools, Sharpening Techniques, and Safety Measures

The workshop will also include a show-and-tell of different types of wood, branches, branch collars, compartmentalization of decay in trees (CODIT). Bring your questions and come prepared for a fun interactive learning experience.

Tony Wolcott is a Certified Landscape Horticulturalist, Certified Irrigation Designer, Board Certified Master Arborist, Master Composter, and Bay Friendly Designer. His work experience includes being the urban forester at the Cities of Albany and San Francisco, non-profit work with Friends of the Urban Forest, Our City Forest, and arborist representative with Bartlett Tree Experts. Currently he is professor of Arboriculture within the Horticulture division of the Biology Department at Diablo Valley College.

Saturday, April 8, 2 – 4 p.m.

Growing Edibles and the Healthy Soil Connection

April is a great time to add annual or perennial edibles to your garden! Lori Caldwell will be on-hand to talk about the many benefits of growing your own food and the healthy soil building techniques to increase yields, keep down pests and diseases and use less water. Topics for this talk will include: rebuilding soils, great crops for your area, pest control, crop rotation and more! Participants will receive a handy edible reader for reference.

Lori Caldwell is a Master Composter, Stopwaste Educator and owner/operator of her own business, CompostGal: Consulting, Landscaping & Education. She has been happily teaching sustainable gardening classes for the past 10 years.

Saturday, March 11th, 2 – 4 p.m.

The Joys of Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip irrigation has multiple benefits and fewer challenges compared to sprinkler irrigation for many landscape planting situations. By choosing the right equipment and a few simple design and installation practices drip systems can be efficient, durable, low maintenance and cost effective. Scott Summerfeld will review drip basics, EBMUD rebates to convert sprinklers to drip, and practice assembling a small system. This workshop will also cover how to avoid common errors made with irrigation. Be prepared to ask all your drip and irrigation questions.

Scott Sommerfeld is a registered landscape architect whose focus and passion in recent years has focused on efficient state-of-the-art irrigation design and management. As an EBMUD Water Conservation Representative for over 18 years, Scott advises EBMUD customers, developers, and cities.

Saturday, February 11th, 2 – 4 p.m.

Gardening 101: Everything You Need to Know as a Beginning Gardener

Learn how to grow edible and ornamental plants from seed and cuttings with Jeff Bridge of Ploughshares Nursery. This is a hands-on workshop will be demonstrating techniques and best practices so grab your gardening gloves! Jeff will discuss choosing soil, watering your plants, how to avoid common mistakes, and the basics of fertilization. Bring your questions and garden conundrums for Jeff to answer after the demonstration. Gardening is fun and interesting. Come away with everything you need to start your own small garden!

Jeff Bridge is the Manager of non-profit Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda California. Jeff is grateful for the opportunity to bring his twenty years experience working in the best Bay Area nurseries to benefit Alameda Point Collaborative’s supportive housing program for formerly homeless families and individuals.

Want to volunteer to help out at the speaker series? Contact us at for more information.