*Please note that these drawings are a work in progress. Certain elements of our plans have changed since this drawing as we work through the County planning processes.
OUR OVERALL VISION
Below we describe our development plans as shown in the drawings above. The design is centered around a large sustainable garden and green building residential site, including three main sectors:
Seven acres dedicated to sustainable edible landscaping with trees, crops and native plants. The design strategy is based on restoring and celebrating some of the historical fruit tree crops and cultivars such as French Prune Plum, Gravenstein Apple, Bartlett Pear as well as a perennial understory such as artichokes, berries, native plants, and culinary herbs.
Two acres of ecological conservation and watershed preservation. This region includes a freshwater spring, a portion of Garrity Creek and a grove of eucalyptus, willow, and plum trees that provide critical habitat for wildlife. We will preserve and protect this sensitive riparian zone and the diverse species and native plant life it holds, by mitigating invasive species that choke the creek and recultivating native riparian plants.
Less than one acre to serve as the site for one house and one granny unit featuring energy-efficient, non-toxic, beautiful, and sustainable building practices.
Wild and Radish LLC formed in order to cultivate and demonstrate sustainable living solutions for public benefit on a local and global scale. We strongly desire to play a key role in building a healthier local community, while raising our families in a peaceful setting connected to the natural environment. This site - which is located in a region that struggles with high levels of poverty, unemployment, and violence - has the potential to improve the health and well-being of Contra Costa County residents by increasing access to affordable organic food. A diverse range of organic foods will be made available to the local community off-site through mobile farmers market stands and a sliding-scale CSA (community supported agriculture) program. The farm, gardens and home will be used as an inspirational model of agroecological design, organic edible landscaping and as a demonstration of ecological stewardship and sustainable watershed management.
BUILDING PLANS AND LOCATION
The history of this land is unique because of community-driven efforts for environmental protection. Throughout our planning stage, Wild and Radish LLC has remained committed to hearing and addressing input from neighbors and other community residents, and this has played an important role in shaping our development plans and building designs. We greatly value the community’s work towards protecting and regenerating the spring and watershed of Garrity creek.
During our early stages of project planning we spoke to neighbors by door-knocking in the community and attending meetings of the Friends of Garrity Creek, the Municipal Advisory Council and the El Sobrante Planning and Zoning Advisory Committee. We heard clearly neighbor’s concerns about minimizing traffic on Marin Road and blocking views. For this reason, we completely withdrew our original idea to build homes on the South-facing parcel below Marin Avenue and instead we are limiting our residential development to a ¾-acre section of one parcel off of Hilltop Road. This development site is already the most ecologically impacted part of the property, having been partly developed already in the past, and it is far removed from the ecologically sensitive spring and creek.
On the non-residential parcels to the West and South of Marin Road, Wild and Radish and partnering nonprofits will implement land improvement practices such as building swales on contour and planting fruit trees, perennials and native species to stabilize the hillside, minimize erosion and reduce landslides -- all of which will improve the health of Garrity Creek watershed. Ultimately, the innovation and inspirational beauty of our project will model best practices towards a healthier and more sustainable food system, community, and ecology for El Sobrante and West Contra Costa County.
Wild and Radish, LLC plans to build two homes and two attached in-law units (each attached to the main unit), on the southern half of the Hilltop Road parcel (currently parcel # ). We will be submitting a lot-line adjustment application to divide the Hilltop Road parcel into two legal parcels.
Residential: We endeavor to conserve as much of the rainwater that hits our impervious surfaces as we possibly can. We will incorporate rainwater harvesting from the rooftops of our structures to mitigate storm run-off and serve as a sustainable addition to our irrigation plans for our gardens.
Along with rainwater harvesting, we plan to re-use domestic greywater to irrigate non-edible household landscaping. During the dry season, we will re-use greywater from household laundry machines and showers and deliver it to our landscaping plants. By positioning our home at the uppermost portion of the Hilltop Dr. parcel we have preserved the possibility to reuse both rainwater and greywater with gravity alone.
We are sensitive to the “flashy” nature of Garrity Creek. With so many rooftops and roadways draining to it, large rain events regularly cause flash floods. We’ll make sure our gutters and gullies are routed to swales and infiltration basins where stormwater can collect and infiltrate into the soil and not race to the bay on a destructive, erosive path.
Farm & Orchard: The most sustainable place to store rainwater is directly in the landscape, and so slowing and sinking rainwater, reducing run-off, and building healthy topsoil will be primary goals on our farm. Impervious surfaces will continue to account for a tiny fraction of the overall area upon which rain falls on our land. Though small contoured earthworks, approximately 18” deep and 24” wide, we will gently slow the great volumes of water moving across our landscape and direct it to the root systems of our trees. As our trees mature, they will draw upon this under-ground ‘water battery’ and require much less irrigation to support them. By mulching all our plantings with tree bark mulch, we will reduce evaporation to further reduce irrigation requirements, practically eliminate topsoil erosion, and build healthy new topsoil by returning nutrients to the soil over time. All told, we expect that the net impact of these practices will greatly reduce soil erosion while regenerating our fresh-water spring and water table -- all critical to increasing resiliency with increasing climate change and drought.
With our spring as a sustainable and protected source of fresh-water, we will mindfully utilize spring water for irrigation in ways strinkingly similar to historic uses on the land. We plan to pump water using renewable energy (solar or wind) from the spring uphill to two 5,000 gallon storage tanks, just as previous generations of farmers on our land did, as evidenced by the old concrete water tank and windmill artifacts found on the property. From these strategically positioned tanks, we will be able to gravity feed water to ⅔rds of our south facing slope and orchard. All the water used on the property will stay within the Garrity Creek watershed to regenerate the spring. We will continue to record water-flow rates of our spring and test for evidence-based water conservation data to ensure we are having positive impacts on our local watershed.
Another innovative source for irrigation water on our farm is our neighbor’s roofs! Atop the south facing slope, we will construct a low-profile, long and skinny concrete rainwater storage tanks. We have many supportive neighbors who have already expressed their willingness to allow us to redirect water in their downspouts away from stormdrains and towards our water storage tanks and trees. This strategy will improve the stormwater impact of our community at large and serve as a source for emergency water in times of emergency, earthquakes, and severe drought. Such practices will add to the resiliency of our neighborhood and community at-large.
And least exciting - we will have a regular EBMUD water hookup at the top of the 5 acre farm, to satisfy any remaining water needs we may have.
Our farm will produce organic fresh food to be shared and sold off-site through retail outlets, farmers’ market stands, restaurants, and though a neighborhood CSA box delivered directly to the adjacent community residents at various drop-off points (potentially churches and schools in the area). The majority of farm activities will take place on the “South Facing Slope” parcel (currently parcel # ). Phase one (2014-2015) includes the following: 1) setting up irrigation and rainwater harvesting infrastructure; 2) installing a greenhouse over 300 sq. feet for seed-saving and the propagation of important edible plants that excel in our climate and are resilient to climate change; 3) installing a yurt and open-air covered work-space for shade and comfort; and 4) installing the beginnings of a sustainable, edible landscape with fruit trees, berries, flowers, and native plants that will create habitat for important pollinator species, provide healthy food for the community, and create space to learn and celebrate solutions for a more sustainable planet. In 2015, phase two of the farm build-out will see the construction of additional food storage structures and the storage barn as pictured, the construction of a small solar-powered refrigeration structure, and additional plantings.
We have 2-3 full-time workers on the farm Monday-Friday, and these workers will likely be residents on the land. An additional 2-3 part-time workers may be needed 3 days per week during harvest times, and these workers may also live on the land, or they may be picked up from BART by our resident farm manager. During harvest times, we anticipate just 1-2 pickup trucks arriving and departing just once each day, 3 days/week. No trucks larger than pick-up trucks will be necessary for any of our regular farm tasks. All told, the traffic impact of the farm is minimal. The primary impact of our farm will be to increase the cohesion, inspiration, health, well-being, sustainability, and resiliency of our local community.
Check out https://www.facebook.com/andrew.chahrour/videos/10100318900497679/ for a video update of our farm progress. This video was taken in May, 2016.