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We are a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit that has sprouted and taken root in Livermore, California. The Garden of Grace, our principle teaching garden, is located in Livermore on land owned and provided for our use by Asbury United Methodist Church.
In 2019, Fertile Groundworks harvested over 23,000 pounds to share with our neighbors in need. Working with local community kitchens and food pantries, we operate year-round to provide a continuous stream of produce to help feed the hungry in the Tri-Valley region.
Also in 2019, Fertile GroundWorks educated over 1,900 volunteers in the valuable skill of organic gardening. Our volunteers learn sustainable food production techniques such as such as bio-intensive gardening, small-scale organic orchardry, soil fertility, composting and water conservation.
We also provide education and support to local schools, corporations and other community groups to help them create and sustainably operate their own gardens.
to our neighbors in need in 2019
trained in sustainable food techniques in 2019
to engage the local community in 2019
for those in need since 2012
The Alameda County Master Gardener Program works to serve the diverse communities within Alameda County. Master Gardeners are people of all ages from all walks of life who want to give back to their communities. We volunteer our time to help people learn about gardening. The Garden of Grace is an approved project for Master Gardeners to earn credit.
Many of the seeds grown by the garden were donated by Renee’s Garden Seeds. Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged. The garden has grown Renee’s varieties of carrot, squash, lettuce, chard, radish, and tomato, and all have performed very well, in many cases exceeding varieties sold by other companies.
Republic Services donated 50 cubic yards of organic compost to the garden, which is being used to amend soil in the beds. This compost will increase the fertility of the soil, allowing for higher-yielding crops and improved soil structure. This compost is also being used as a nutrient-rich layer between hard, untilled soil and wood chips to soften and improve the soil for future cropping.
Springing from the seed of an idea in June 2010, the Garden of Grace began as a notion to develop unused acreage to serve the hungry in Livermore. A core group of visionary volunteers linked up with Open Heart Kitchen, a nonprofit that has served meals at Asbury UMC weekly since 1995. Preparation and planting in the Garden of Grace began later that year.
Bruce Campbell, an Alameda Master Gardener, was a driving force behind the project, as was fellow Master Gardener Mark Brunell. Together with key volunteers from Asbury, the Master Gardening community and local volunteers, they got Fertile GroundWorks running.
By autumn 2010, the first crops were being harvested and the rotation was up and running. In 2011, we delivered more than 4,000 pounds of organically grown produce to feed the poor and homeless. By 2018, Fertile Groundworks trained over 1,200 volunteers in sustainable food production techniques and harvested over 19,000 pounds of food.
In 2018, lifelong biologist and gardener Brenda Kusler became Executive Director upon Bruce Campbell’s retirement. Under her care, Fertile GroundWorks is continuing to expand its production and outreach within the community.
I am an enthusiastic student of all things gardening. My areas of special interest are California native landscapes and urban agriculture. I am a California Master Gardener and am enrolled in the Landscape Architecture Certificate Program at UC Berkeley Extension. Fertile GroundWorks is a beautiful, timely endeavor worth every effort to make flourish!
Prior to becoming a gardener, I was an Internet security software entrepreneur. I earned a J.D. from Santa Clara University and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of San Francisco.
As a lifelong biologist and gardener, volunteering with Fertile GroundWorks allows me to pursue the central aspects of my being. I get to play in the soil, watch things grow, and learn new things every day, all while helping my fellow human beings. I truly believe Fertile GroundWorks is one of the most important things I do with my life.
I have been a supporter of the Garden of Grace since its inception in 2009 and have been on the Board since 2012. What a vision our leadership had to use some of the vacant land behind the church to grow food for the needy. That small seed has now grown into a major food contributor to Open Heart Kitchen and other food pantries. It is a joy for me to see how our staff, volunteers and partners live out our mission to “Teach, Grow, Give.” We really do that, and our community is better because of it.
I have been employed by Livermore Area Recreation and Park District since 2003. I am proud of the work that the district does on behalf of our community and I am looking forward to continuing to help and to serve our community through working with Fertile GroundWorks.
I have a life-long belief that maintaining a healthy environment is necessary to maintain our personal health. I left a career in non-profit corporate fundraising to begin my family. Having two daughters made that belief grow stronger, along with a desire to feed my family healthy, organically grown foods. I discovered Fertile GroundWorks volunteers working in my daughter’s school garden. I volunteered, then took over managing the school garden to create a little bit of heaven for parents and students. I joined the Fertile GroundWorks Board to lend my strengths to an organization that I believe in.