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Thomas Jefferson was a gardening enthusiast, but his passion for growing food went beyond his own backyard. Apparently he believed that America was incapable of true democracy unless 20 percent of its citizens were self-sufficient on small farms. This would enable them to be real dissenters, free to voice opinions and beliefs, without any obligation to food producers who might hold their survival at stake. ~ Katherine Martinko

Container Carrot Patio Planter Haxnicks

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You can start with any container you wish right outside your door, upstairs or downstairs, on the roof, for the freshest tasty organic veggies! (Haxnicks container)

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xVegTrug Stand Up Gardening bed for people with disabilities

Winner of the 2012 Green Thumb Award for Outstanding New Product, the Vegtrug’s back-saving design allows you to garden while standing. Bad knees, bad back? No problem! Get outside, raise your spirits, improve your health! There are no age limits to veggie gardening!

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Container Wall Cans! Any fence or wall will do!

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Any wall or fence will do! Be creative!

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Creative Container gardening on your Balcony!x

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Garden anywhere! The Balcony is perfect! Every which way but loose!

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On the ground Strawberries Pallet Gardenx

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Strawberries in Pallets on the ground…

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STRAWBERRIES, LOTS OF STRAWBERRIES! Overhead planted in rain gutters!x

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…to Rain Gutters overhead!

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Residential Tower Gardeningx
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Grow Fast food in space saver Tower Gardens at home, to feed the homeless, at the office or hospital!

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LA Veggie Roof Garde, architect Norman Millar’s Arkhouse

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At owner/architect Norman Millar’s Arkhouse in the Los Angeles area, the rooftop veggie garden gets plenty of SoCal sun in between polycarbonate panels. Photo: Robin Horton.

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It’s a “liberating DIY revolution,” as writer Megan Mayhew Bergman calls it. In her article “Democracy needs gardeners!” which is an inspiring call for Americans to dig up their lawns, convert empty spaces, and utilize available windowsills, Bergman urges Americans to start gardening as an act of patriotism.

The Back 40 or a gorgeous Food Not Lawn front yard! Do it!

Food Not Lawn Vegetable Garden Front Yard

Guerrilla Gardening has changed the face of many a landscape, raised neighborhood pride, and often feeds many!

Neighborhood Guerilla Garden Before After

Started in 2009, Seattle’s 7 acre, 2.5 miles from downtown Seattle, Beacon Food Forest includes an Edible Arboretum with fruits gathered from regions around the world, a Berry Patch for canning, gleaning and picking, a Nut Grove with trees providing shade and sustenance, a Community Garden using the p-patch model for families to grow their own food, a Gathering Plaza for celebration and education, a Kid’s Area for education and play and a Living Gateway to connect and serve as portals as you meander through the forest. It’s all done by volunteers and the food is free for foraging!

Small to large, Community Gardens, often urban, but not always, give landless apartment dwellers, children, disabled and seniors the blessed and grateful opportunity to garden, enjoy the outdoors, events – weddings, concerts, art exhibits, share friendship, learning and beauty with each other!

Urban garden, Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco, CA

Urban Community Garden, Fort Mason, San Francisco CA

Per the GrowNetwork.com: Only a few generations ago, our recent ancestors all kept their own seed supplies. I’m not talking about ancient history… I’m talking about your great-grandparents. They traded their favorite seeds with their friends and neighbors, and they passed on the best seeds to their children. In doing so, they bred vegetable varieties that were tailor-made for their local climates. And they maintained a healthy level of genetic diversity in their food supply.

Seeds Jars SeedsavingIt’s important we do the same! SeedSaving is as simple as collecting seeds from your best plants. Over the fence seed trading has always been done. These days it can be buying from online seed houses, seed exchanges, like Southern Exposure that intend to preserve heirloom plants. You might trade seeds online like at Seed Exchange – GardenWeb! You may want to contribute to a Seed Library 
or get started with free seeds from a Library. Santa Barbara CA’s Foodbank offers free seeds and instruction to people in need to help them grow their own food! Local annual Seed Swaps are usually held in January so gardeners can plan their gardens, have plenty of time to start seedlings for spring planting.

Seeds are a precious resource. Take good care of them. In any natural disaster, they are the first thing I would take with me other than my dog! If you are political, work to secure our right to have non GMO seeds and the right to collect our own seeds.

National Heirloom Exposition Santa Rosa CA 2016

Uncommon and common EVENTS! Local and international festivals, presentations, symposiums, exhibits and more! From Permaculture to rainwater catchment – graywater, soil building, seed gathering trainings, garden design, container gardening to farming, community gardens, vertical gardening, local food, edible flowers, bees, pests & diseases, organic, perennial vegetables, sustainability, to research! And then there are your favorite veggie & fruit festivals, the Gilroy Garlic Festival, The Avocado Festival, Pumpkins, Apples, Strawberries, Tomatoes! All bring out our very best and inspire more conscious gardening!

In the US, the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa CA is September 6th, 7th & 8th, 2016. There will be over 100 national and internationally acclaimed on-topic speakers. You can learn and grow with some of the top names in the pure food movement and young people speakers from age 17 up! Three Day Pass only $30, kids 17 and under free! 3 Days isn’t really enough! Three proud sponsors include the City of Santa Rosa, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Mother Earth News!

The terms Permaculture, then Food Forests/Forest Gardening, have come into use. They have changed the ways gardeners approach gardening and their interactions with each other! Simply put, permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Forest gardening is a low maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables. Making use of plant guilds, companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat. Forest gardening is a prehistoric method of securing food in tropical areas. In the 1980s, Robert Hart coined the term “forest gardening” after adapting the principles and applying them to temperate climates. (Wiki)

The keyword here is sustainability! It’s a contribution to the planet. It makes living here a good quality option for our children. This is a revolution that makes sense and is well worth fighting for! Plant seeds today!

San Francisco Permaculture Guild Man with outspread arms standing in Mustard taller than he is!SAN FRANCISCO PERMACULTURE GUILD BLOG

Take super good care of yourself and your loved ones. Fuel your body, mind and Spirit with the very best!

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The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. We are very coastal, during late spring/summer in a fog belt/marine layer area most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

See the entire July 2016 GBC Newsletter!

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National Seed Swap Day is January 30!

List of seed swaps by state and date!

Seed Swap - Chicago

FREE 8th Annual Santa Barbara Seed Swap
January 31st, 11:00 to 3:00
SB Public Library, Faulkner Gallery 

Seeds, plants, cuttings and garden knowledge to swap. If you don’t have something to swap, bring yourself and take what you need – FREE! Save some seeds from the plants you grow to swap next year!

Activities for all ages, with music and special speakers. More information: 962-2571, margie@sbpermaculture.org

I will be presenting at 12:30 PM, Intro to Seed Saving! Would love to meet you, renew our friendship! Santa Barbara’s average last frost date is Jan 22! I would say this is divine timing!

If you are from out-of-town but near enough, and enjoy adventurous journeys, come make a day of it in our fair city!

If you don’t live in our area, please check to see when Seed Swaps will be in your area! If there are none, if you are willing, please, please, please, contact local permaculturists, garden groups/clubs, to see about starting one! Preserving our heritage, not GMO but heirloom seeds, is vital to our continued nutritious future, and for our children’s healthy futures!

ONLINE SEED SWAPS! If you can’t get to a seed swap, as the National Gardening Assn says: One gardener’s extras are another’s treasures! You can often find rare seeds and amazing heirloom treats!


How to Seed Swap in Person!

  • Bring your garden design, both summer and winter, and seed list. Stay focused!
  • Viability! It’s not always certain exactly what you are getting or how old the seed is, but the price is right! However, old seed may not germinate at all, you lose time waiting for it. Support your local nursery when in doubt.
  • Look for the sell by date on packages or containers.
  • Find out how big that plant will grow, decide if it will really fit in your available space. (A healthy artichoke has an easy 6’ diameter span!)
  • Is it a summer or winter plant, or plant again and again year ‘round?
  • Take small baggies or envelopes and a pencil with you.
  • Label what you get when you get it. Name, date & where harvested.
  • Take only what you need and a few more in case those fail or you love them and want to plant another round or two! Leave the rest for others. Try not to get seed greed fever! 🙂
  • Ask tons of questions!

See Seeds Rock! Choosing the Perfect Ones for You!
See More on How to Seed Swap!

See Seed Soaking & Presprouting


With great gratitude to you and all our ancestors!

Happy seed hunting!



Walk or bike to events as possible! Heal the land, heal yourself.

See the January GBC Newsletter

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Father's Day Garden Gifts
A group of fathers and their children meet weekly in New York for outings, including to the Ancient Playground in Central Park.

Growing children is #1, Organic Veggie Gardening is super for the whole family’s health, so gardening Papas need good green respect!

This year surprise him with a sleep in, or an outdoor Sunrise breakfast with a beautiful view! Could have a Summer Solstice Sunrise Gathering at the garden! At the breakfast table, what more wonderful than a centerpiece of living plants or beautiful flowers from your garden and delicious 100% fresh garden to table treats?!

Plant a planter box, a cut and come again lettuce bowl
Give him garden gear! Special tools, a composter, bee box
Give him seedlings and seeds
How about a garden magazine/ezine subscription?
Membership, a plot, at a Community Garden
Plant edible flowers for him that he will love
Offer him some of your time weeding, turning in amendments
Maybe he could use some of your homemade organic compost or worm castings
He might need a compost tea brewer set up…
How about a selection of lovely herbal soaps?!

Special gift! Fresh organic salad in a Mason jar? Yum!

Super delicious nutritious Mason Jar meals!

A fresh gathered Bouquet Garni tied with a hearts ribbon
Bundles of fresh herbs he can hang and dry in his kitchen

Herbed oils and vinegars in pretty jars

Maybe he is a she! There are plenty of Moms doing a Dad’s job out there, busy single Moms who love to garden!

Happy Father’s Day in advance to all you loving people!

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Container Vegetable Living Gift - Lettuces Edible Flowers

What more wonderful than a living gift?!

Plant a planter box, a cut and come again lettuce bowl
Give her a growing tower, garden gear
Give her seedlings and seeds
Plant edible flowers for her that she will love
Offer her some of your time weeding, turning in amendments
Maybe she could use some of your homemade organic compost or worm castings
Pony up for the Community Garden fee!
Or the garden book she has been wanting….
How about some easy-to-make cucumber night cream?!

Special gift! Fresh organic salad in a Mason jar for busy Moms! Yum!

Super delicious nutritious Mason Jar meals!

A fresh gathered Bouquet Garni tied with a hearts ribbon
Bundles of fresh herbs she can hang and dry in her kitchen
Herbed oils and vinegars in pretty jars

Maybe she is a he! There are a lot of guy Moms out there, busy single dads who love to garden!

A Happy & Green Mother’s Day to all you loving people!

Mother's Day Garden Gifts

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Seed Swap - Chicago
FREE 7th Annual Santa Barbara Seed Swap
January 25th, 11:00 to 3:00, SB Public Library, Faulkner Gallery 

Seeds, plants, cuttings and garden knowledge to swap. Activities for all ages, with music and special speakers. More information: 962-2571, margie@sbpermaculture.org

I will be presenting at 1 PM, Intro to Seed Saving! Would love to meet you, see you there! Santa Barbara’s average last frost date is Jan 22! I would say this is divine timing!

If you are from out-of-town but near enough, and enjoy adventurous journeys, come make a day of it in our fair city!

If you don’t live in our area, please check to see when Seed Swaps will be in your area! If there are none, if you are willing, please, please, please, contact local permaculturists, garden groups/clubs, to see about starting one! Preserving our heritage, not GMO but heirloom seeds, is vital to our continued nutritious future, and for our children’s healthy futures!

ONLINE SEED SWAPS! As the National Gardening Assn says: One gardener’s extras are another’s treasures! Here’s how they do it!

See Seeds Rock! Choosing the Perfect Ones for You!
See How to Seed Swap! 

With great gratitude to you and all our ancestors!
Happy seed hunting!


Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners: The refurbished Greenhouse is ready for its first spring use! Starts begun at the end of January will be ready for March plantings!



Walk or bike to 2015 events as possible! Heal the land, heal yourself.


Feb 17, Little Garden Club, From Your Own Garden! If you are a member of the Little Garden Club, or can come as a guest, come to see my lovely presentation, a garden is more than the food you eat. Natural History Museum, 2 PM!


Feb 28 brings the Master Gardeners’ presentation Year Round Edibles! 2 to 4 PM Onsite at Mesa Harmony Permaculture Garden. Planting times, seasonal garden practices, and food storage! 4 Speakers presenting, I will be first! This will be a super useful gathering! Bring your notepad, digital recorder, best garden friends!


Saturday April 25 Santa Barbara Food & Farm Adventures! I will lead the Pilgrim Terrace Tour! 10 AM Bike Tour to Community Gardens; No Biker left behind! The Terrace will be first, then up they go to Trinity Garden! Enjoy seeing these very different gardens.

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Oh, Yes, It’s SEED SWAP time again!

Dear Santa Barbara area Gardeners,
this is an event not to miss!

Seed Swaps are wonderful exchanges of local seeds, all for FREE, and offer the magic of trying a seed you would never have bought!
Chicago Garden friends? Chicago Botanic Garden 2014 Seed Swap info!

Seeds are BIG!  And super important!  They are amazing living beings that carry our best plants forward through time.  Preserving them and saving them from interference, is essential.  The University of Georgia is just one place that has a Seedbank, in their case, the “Southern Seed Legacy.”  You can get seeds and recipes from them!



Saturday January 25, 6:30 to 8:30 PM  With a theme of plants from the Western Hemisphere & Mesoamerica this year, the Seed Swap kicks off with an evening talk by Lorenz Schaller of the Kusa Seed Society, titled “Modern Science Meets Ancient Maize.” Ancient Mayans had over 300 Maize foods, while the Incas, an advanced agricultural civilization, skillfully developed an amazing variety of plants like quinoa, beans, amaranth and potatoes. They prized Maize above all others as the plant that nourished and allowed their civilization to rise and thrive. Please come and share your examples of plants from the Americas like squash, corn, chayote, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, avocados, guavas, chili peppers, manioc, agave, and prickly pear.

Lorenz Schaller, a longtime Ojai resident,  is a remarkable steward of his environment. Formerly a staff member at the California Institute of Technology (Cal-Tech), Schaller studied and taught the nutritional, culinary, and ecological significance of bio-diverse seed crops for many decades. Kusa is a Sanskrit word meaning sacred grass.

Workshop at SB Downtown Public Library, $5 donation please or more if you can do it! Your generosity will be put to good use.


Sunday, January 26, 11 AM to 3 PM
6th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap!

FREE! Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA. If you are from out-of-town but near enough, and enjoy adventurous journeys, come make a day of it in our fair city!

Seed Swaps are wonderful exchanges of local seeds, all for FREE, and offer the magic of trying seeds you would never have bought!

More than 400 people attended last year, sharing seeds and knowledge with other backyard gardeners, plant lovers, and farmers! Come be a part of this seed saving movement! Be sure our locally adapted varieties of seed & plants are passed on to future generations. Children are welcome!  Local groups will table, including the Santa Barbara Seed Saving Guild, who will share valuable seed saving techniques and encourage local gardeners to grow out and harvest some of their best seeds for future gardens and seed swaps, making us a truly food secure community. Seed saving is a fun and easy way to connect to the circle of life.

Bring seeds, plants, cuttings, and garden knowledge to swap.

Don’t have these?
Come anyway and get seeds!
Seeds to sow, grow, harvest!
Grow seeds to save and share next year.
Activities for all ages
Music that will have your toes tapping – Honeysuckle Possums
Special Speakers throughout the day
A gathering of garden friends old and new.

A community program hosted by the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Non-profit
Event co-sponsors: Island Seed & FeedHealing Grounds Biodynamic Nursery, & the Santa Barbara Seed Saving Guild, a program of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Santa Barbara Annual Community Seed Swap on Facebook

Exactly where is MesoAmerica?

Map of MesoAmerica, Central America



Some tips for swapping your saved seeds:

Pack them in paper coin envelopes or plastic baggies. Label seed packs with botanical and common name, and DATE they were gathered!  Five seeds per pack for larger and common seeds is good. Thirty seeds or so is good for smaller seeds. If you don’t have small coin envelopes or want to buy little plastic baggies, you can cut up junk mail envelopes into smaller envelopes to hold your seeds.

Why seeds?!?  First, a Swap is a fun way to meet other gardeners and people interested in beautifying their communities and growing their own food.  Starting your crops from seed is frugal.  Watching a tiny plant sprout and grow is an incredibly special experience, totally inspiring.  You learn about life while getting plenty of sunshine!  Seeds you get at a local SWAP, are adapted to your area, and will grow super well!

How to select your new seeds! 

  1. Take your garden plan with you.
  2. Take small baggies or small envelopes and a pencil with you.
  3. Label what you get when you get it.
  4. Take only what you need and a few more in case those fail or you love them and want to plant another round or two!  Leave the rest for others. Try not to get seed greed fever! 🙂
  5. Look for the date on the package or container. Ask when seeds were gathered.  Are the seeds still viable?
  6. Find out how big that plant will grow, decide if it will really fit in your available space.
  7. Is it a summer or winter plant?
  8. Ask tons of questions!
  9. Have a great time!

See Seeds Rock! Choosing the Perfect Ones for You! 


If you don’t live in our area, please check to see when Seed Swaps will be in your area!  If there are none, if you are willing, please, please, please, contact local permaculturists, garden groups/clubs, to see about starting one!  Preserving our heritage, not GMO but heirloom seeds, is vital to our continued nutritious future, and for our children’s healthy futures!

ONLINE SEED SWAPS! As the National Gardening Assn says:  One gardener’s extras are another’s treasures! Here’s how they do it!


With great gratitude to you and all our ancestors! 
Happy seed hunting!

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Seed Swap - Chicago BEAN!

Seed Swaps are wonderful exchanges of local seeds, all for FREE, and offer the magic of trying a seed you would never have bought!

Get SEEDS! Start seeds indoors NOW! Get your summer garden layout in mind. Peruse seed catalogs and order up for your Spring planting ASAP! 🙂 Santa Barbara’s last frost (spring) date is January 22! This isn’t to say there might not be another frost after that…and plants won’t produce fruit until they have enough hours of sun, and for some, warmth. Know that you are taking your chances. But to guarantee your success, start another round of seeds in a month or so, both for backup and succession planting.

If you just don’t have the seed bug, wait and get transplants and pop them right in the ground! No fuss, no muss.

What I’ve said before: This is bare root time – plants without soil on their roots! For us SoCal gardeners that’s cane berry bushes, deciduous fruit trees, strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, short day onions. Think twice about horseradish. It’s invasive as all get out! If you do it, confine it to a raised bed or an area where it will run out of water. Rhubarb, though totally tasty in several combinations, ie strawberry/rhubarb pie, has poisonous leaves! That means to dogs, small children and unknowing people. Either fence it off, or don’t grow it. I don’t recommend it in community gardens because we can’t assure people’s/children’s safety. Bare root planting is strictly a January thing. February is too late.

Keep feeding plants still in production. Scratch back a little soil and add a bit of chicken manure, cover, water in. Or give them a light feeding of liquid fish/kelp mix. If you feed your peas at all, they gather their own Nitrogen from the air, give them just a tiny amount.

Soil building is the single-most important thing you can do for your garden.

  • Compost is easy to make. Added to your soil, it increases water holding capacity, is nutritious, soil organisms flourish, your soil breathes!
  • Your green manures may be starting to flower, or will this month. That’s the time to fell them and chop them into your soil. Let them decompose in place, let the soil structure come alive. Keep the soil damp – lay down a light covering straw or leaves. Not too thick. You want it to breathe. Pretend you are an animal and stir it up once in awhile. Throw a few stinky handfuls of that chicken manure over it (I use a cup I keep in the bag). Add some of your vermicomposting worms! Let that land rest, restore, and be super tasty for spring planting! Or, put in a few more early days to maturity winter plants. They will mature in March/April. Perfectly in time for summer planting! If you have areas where your winter plants are finished and you don’t want to plant more ’til spring, start a green manure patch there! You can take it down in March/April for April/May heat lovers plantings!

Sit back, design your Summer Garden! And, DON’T MISS the Jan 25 and 26 6th Annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap or any seed swaps in your area! If there isn’t one, consider starting one! Yes! Before you go, review Seeds Rock! Choosing the Perfect Ones for You! Enjoy!

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