St. James Sprouts A Garden–Part II


The transformation of 3/4 of an acre at St. James Catholic Church to a food-producing community garden is no small task. Perhaps this photo collage will provide a sense of the physical size of the project…

Coordinating the logistics and schedules for the garden construction and planting is a full-time job. Fortunately, Lois Pearson  (I call her the “Dedicated Dynamo”) and the other members of the St. James Community Garden Committee have been more than up to the challenge.

Lois is also quick to point out that many people in the community have helped bring the project along…

We have had several people donate their services and or supplies for our start-up. Lucas Deniz tilled our field, J.P. Ospital put in our irrigation system, Michael Birmingham built our wood boxes, Carlo Farrina and Jim Gambodini are donating fieldstone, John Shribbs has been an advisory as well as donated many native plants, Pete Bonardi and John Brugaleta are doing our electrical. Rose Zamudio from Tuscan Gardens and Grayson James from Petaluma Bounty have also advised us. Mari Philo is in charge of the Planting Committee and has done a fantastic job.
Tyler Harwood is doing his Eagle Scout project by building us 5 redwood picnic tables and benches. I have a few Casa students doing their senior projects and the Helping Hands Group has also pitched in.

As an aside, I have observed volunteers at many community projects in Petaluma over the years. Without exception, they are always focused, hardworking people. This man, however, went above and beyond, showing up with a walking leg cast…


The St. James community garden will be somewhat different as there will be no private plots.  Instead, the primary purpose of the garden is to grow fresh vegetables for those in need in our community. 

According to Lois…

We will  harvest and give the produce to anyone in need in the Petaluma community– COTS, PEP, Food for Families, etc. We will also grow seasonal flowers to decorate our church altar. 


Many of the seedlings in the photo below were started by volunteers using heirloom seeds donated by the Petaluma Seed Bank. The Gatti Nursery provided space to grow them before planting in the garden….

For more information on the Petaluma Seed Bank see Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co and an article by Chris Sampson of  The Argus Courier.


As with any garden project, lots of mulch and compost are required.  Sonoma Compost stepped up to the plate and donated some of the materials.


Finally, the “buzz” in the air is that the garden will also include at least one bee hive courtesy of  Ettamarie Peterson of Peterson’s Farm 

(Additional photos are available at Community Garden At St. James)


Members of the general public are welcome to come and volunteer to work on the project. You do not have to be a member of the church to participate.

  • Additional workdays are scheduled for January 23 and January 24, (next Saturday & Sunday) from 10 a.m. to 3 pm.
  • For questions or information on upcoming workdays,  contact  Lois Pearson 763-8467, or Stacy Arancio 769-8657, 

Donations and volunteer time notwithstanding, there is an ongoing need for funds to keep the project going forward. Consequently, there will be a “Valentine Social”  fundraiser–appetizers, desserts, wine, music and dancing–on Feb 13th from 7 to 10pm in the St. James Parish Hall. 

  • Tickets are $30.00 per person or 2 for $50.00.  Ticket contacts are Lois Pearson @ 763-8467 and Adele Calkin @ 763-5792.
  • They will also be selling raffle tickets for a three night stay in Palm Desert. 



7 thoughts on “St. James Sprouts A Garden–Part II

  1. Not sure the planting/work days are going to happen on the 23rd and 24th due to the rains.

    Lois, Damian and myself went to pick up some really great stepping stones for the cutting garden that we found for Free on Craigslist.

    We plan to mosaic round stepping stones in the near future and looking for colorful tiles. Anyone have any ideas or want to donate tiles to the St. James Community Garden please contact me…Mari


  2. SJCG volunteers are sowing seeds for Spring on the New Moon…February 13th…just in time for Valentne’s Day. Please stop by the garden if you can to help…10:00-3:00.

    Fruit trees are going in soon. We were blessed with a donation of a beautiful little white shed and a potting table last week to store our garden tools.

    Vegetables look good…the Bok Choi is huge. Cabbage is being eaten by something big holes in leaves…maybe an earwig…anyone know how to get rid of these little varmits?

    • I’ll do a mini-blog a few days before Feb 13, As to the cabbage issue–it could also be birds (I’ve seen them pick holes in sunflower leaves).

Comments are closed.