About Us

We teach, grow and give.

Our Mission

Our mission is to teach and empower people and communities to increase their health, wellbeing, and self-reliance by growing food for themselves and others, organically and sustainably. Produce from our Garden of Grace is given to Open Heart Kitchen and local food pantries to feed the needy. Fertile GroundWorks also champions locally grown food and facilitates the creation and sustainable operation of community, school and employee gardens.

What We Do

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 2018, Fertile Groundworks harvested over 19,000 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 2018, Fertile GroundWorks educated over 1,200 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. 

2018 by the numbers
Grow Food for 
Those in Need
0
Pounds Harvested

for our neighbors in need in 2018

Educate Garden Volunteers
0
Volunteers Educated

trained in sustainable food techniques in 2018

Our Partners

Open Heart Kitchen prepares and serves the produce we grow for homeless and hungry members of our communities, and returns food waste to the garden for composting.

Some of our school gardens are branches of the Alameda County Food Bank, so the produce is distributed in the Tri-Valley.

Food Pantries

Fertile GroundWorks also shares its produce with Tri-Valley Haven Food PantryInterfaith Sharing Food Pantry and St. Vincent de Paul to distribute to their clients.

We provide organic, local produce to Culinary Angels to provide nutrient-rich meals to people going through a serious health challenge.

Many members of the Asbury UMC community and the greater community have made direct donations us. All of these donations are very gratefully acknowledged.

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.

Our History

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.

Board of Directors

Fertile GroundWorks Board of Directors | Dave David, President

Dave David, President

Dave.David@fertilegroundworks.org
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.

Brenda Kusler | Executive Director, Fertile GroundWorks

Brenda Kusler, Executive Director

Brenda.Kusler@fertilegroundworks.org
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.

Charissa Tran | Fertile GroundWorks Board Member

Charissa Tran, Treasurer

Charissa.Tran@fertilegroundworks.org
I have 20 plus years of experience in finance and corporate treasury. Currently, I am Vice President, Treasury at a renewable energy company based in San Francisco, where I lead the treasury, corporate finance and portfolio finance functions of the businesses.

I am passionate about gardening and share in the values of Fertile GroundWorks. I am committed to teaching others, particularly the next generation, about where our food comes from and encourage growing what we can to nourish our families and to share with others. I joined the FGW Board in February 2019.

Teresa Win, Director | Fertile GroundWorks

Teresa Win, Director

Teresa.Win@fertilegroundworks.org
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.

Fertile GroundWorks Board of Directors | Barabara Kraybill, Director

Barbara Kraybill, Director

Barbara.Kraybill@fertilegroundworks.org
As a local business owner, I am always looking for ways to better serve my community. My extensive network of local business people enables me to help Fertile GroundWorks and working with the garden allows me to serve all members of our local community.
Bob Cowgill, Director | Fertile GroundWorks

Bob Cowgill, Director

Fertile GroundWorks Board of Directors | Chee Chu, Director

Chee Chu, Director

Chee.Chu@fertilegroundworks.org
I have always wanted to volunteer in my local community and I am glad I found this organization online. I enjoy contributing to the production of such wonderful organic produce together with the help of volunteers, the management and Mother Nature. The partnership with Open Heart Kitchen and other food pantries inspired me to serve as a board member. My experience include finance, business management and project management ranging from startup companies in enterprise software and venture capital to large-scale payment corporations.

Brooke Beyer, Director | Fertile GroundWorks

Brooke Beyer, Director

Brooke.Beyer@fertilegroundworks.org
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.