St James…Community Garden May Report

By way of a brief update, I can report that the St. James Community Garden in Petaluma continues to “bear fruit”–or, to be more accurate–potatoes!

In addition, volunteers have started work on the two remaining sections of the garden.  (Photos Below)

To view a photo album documenting the work to date, go to Community Garden At St. James

First Potato Harvest

Ground Preparation For The Last Two Sections


They’re Changing The Landscape…

…And Building Community At St. James and Petaluma’s Cavanagh Recreation Center…

…Two Stories For The Easter Weekend…

St. James Community Garden…

Starting literally from scratch a few months ago, the St. James Community Garden continues to grow…in production as well as in land under cultivation. Lois Pearson advises that this month they plan on building two additional sections and planting  twelve more fruit trees.

The project is driven by dedicated volunteers and fueled by donations of materials and volunteer hours. In addition, money has been raised by numerous fund-raising events.

One of the fund-raisers was a recent garden mosaic tile workshop where people could learn how to make stepping stones for their own garden or for the St. James Community Garden. At the end, 79 stones were created–15 of which were created for use in the garden.

According to the instructor, Mari Philo: “We had all age ranges in the classes. The youngest was 4, the oldest in their 80’s.  We had families, singles, partners and even a couple of walk-ins.  Every mosaic stepping stone turned out absolutely unique and beautiful–stones representing crosses, hearts, animals, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, flowers, abstract and more. Some people made one, some two, and some even four at a time.”

Photos from the St. James Mosaic Tile Class 

Individual photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.


Petaluma’s Cavanagh Recreation Center…

In May of last year, on some of the hottest days of the year, volunteers working with the City Of Petaluma transformed the landscape around the Cavanagh Recreation Center from lawn to low water landscaping.  (See Petaluma Gets Its Sheet (Mulch) Together…)

When I learned that Daily Acts had scheduled another volunteer workday for March 26, 2010, I decided it was a great opportunity to follow-up on the story. I was more than impressed with what I found.  The landscape was thriving and ready for the second stage of planting and completion of the rain garden.  Frankly, I was a little jealous that some of their plantings were not only larger than mine were—they were already in bloom. 

A little Garden Envy, I suppose…

Photos from the Cavanagh Recreation Center Workday 

Individual photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.

Ladybugs…(Look Closely)

St. James Community Garden In March

Rainy weather notwithstanding, work continues at the new St. James Community Garden…

I happened to catch another harvest for the Petaluma Kitchen yesterday morning…

According to Lois Pearson: “We picked 11 bags of veggies…to deliver to the Petaluma Kitchen. We will be trying to implement a regular weekly harvest schedule as follows: Sundays 10 to 11 and Wednesdays 10:30 to 11:30. We will then deliver to the kitchen on Monday mornings and to St. Vincent de Paul on Wednesday afternoons. We will be looking into other groups that might need our help as the garden continues to grow.”

In addition to the garden workdays, there are two upcoming events this month in support of the new community garden.


Mary’s Pizza Shack Fundraiser

March 15, 2010 

Mary’s Pizza Shack in Petaluma is sponsoring a “Dine & Donate” fundraiser on Monday, March 15–20% of  all purchases on that date will be donated to the garden. 

To secure the donation, a flyer needs to presented at the time of the order. And, as luck would have it, I have a flyer available for download and printing!  Simply click on Mary’s Pizza Flyer St James 


Mosaic Tile Workshop

March 20th & 21st between 10 & 3 pm

Make a stepping stone for the Community Garden or take one home for your garden!

  • Fee: $15 for 1 stone or $25 for 2 stones
  • All materials and stepping stones included
  • Checks should be made payable to St. James Community Garden

E-mail  Lois Pearson at  for mailing information or if you have any questions.

The workshop will be conducted by Mari Philo, a credentialed art teacher. Some of the mosaic tile projects Mari has worked on include a project with children building a stone fountain for a school auction and a  mosaic wall at Bahia Vista school in San Rafael working with Bay Area professional mural artist, Josef Norris.

 Photo Courtesy of Mari Philo

Presidents’ Day–St. James Community Garden

DATELINE: St. James Catholic Church Community Garden, Petaluma, CA February 15, 2010

On this foggy morning, several volunteers showed up  to plant, perform maintenance, and conduct a first harvest of spinach and bok choy from the winter garden for the Petaluma Kitchen.

At present there is quite a variety of vegetables planted or planned for the garden–spinach, cabbage, turnips, peas, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, herbs, etc. One side of the garden is already planted with fruit trees (apple, pear & apricot) and the plans include another row of  fruit trees on the opposite side.

A few photos from the day…

First Harvest…

Planting bulbs…

Veggies ready for the Petaluma Kitchen…


Additional photos are available on Petaluma 360 (Click Here)

Mary’s Pizza Shack supports the St. James Community Garden. See Mary’s Pizza Flyer St James

Work Continues on St. James Community Garden

Just a quick update…

Despite the rains, volunteers have managed to continue their work on the new community garden at St. James Catholic Church….

The full scope and scale of the project are starting to emerge…

A recent e-mail from Lois Pearson serves nicely as a progress report:

We finished planting the children’s garden and cleared the section going out of the parking lot. The main thing is to keep all the areas weeded right now.
We have plans for the 3rd section now and will be on the look out for free dirt to build up the area. It is retaining a lot of standing water in certain areas. If you know of a source please let me know.
Next Saturday (February 13) we will be sowing seeds for summer planting in our next section. It will be at the garden between 10 and 3. We will move under the over hang if it is raining. They will then be transported to Gatti Nursery to grow.

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.