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 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. 

by the numbers
Grow Food for 
Those in Need
0
Pounds Donated

to our neighbors in need in 2019

Educate Garden Volunteers
0
Volunteers Educated

trained in sustainable food techniques in 2019

Plant Sale & You-Pick 
Market Garden
0
Pounds You Picked

to engage the local community in 2019

Support School Gardens
0
Pounds Harvested

for those in need since 2012

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.

Sandia National Laboratories‘ Community Involvement program financially supports our efforts to provide Healthy food to all our neighbors in need.

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

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.

Lynn Loucks, Treasurer

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. 

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

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.

Lora Cohen, Director

Angela Ko

Angela Ko, Director

I am passionate about educating and inspiring the next generation. As both Gardener and Chef de Cuisine of my own household, I’ve instilled within my daughter an appreciation of where food comes and the nourishment it provides through our meals. My experience at the Fertile Groundworks garden has shown me how the hands-on teaching experience imparts that same practical education of hard work, patience, and the spirit of volunteerism. Together with the Board, I am excited to help further the mission of sharing the love of gardening, engaging our community, and reaching our youth.