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Valley Oak Magazine – Sustainability in the Inland California Valley Bioregion, with David Grau

I first met and wrote about David Grau in the spring of 2009, at the end of his first winter of the Chico Organic Gardening Class Series, organized by David and held at the Chico Grange. Now headed into the third winter of this class series, David Grau and fellow gardening and sustainability enthusiast/advocate Adrian Johnson have formed a the Chico Organic Gardening Society and are also producing the new monthly e-publication Valley Oak Magazine, the mission of which is to gather and share information and resources pertaining to sustainability in the inland California valley bioregion. The magazine is named after the Valley Oak tree which is a unifying and constant feature of California’s inland valleys.

My admiration for David’s work remains as strong as it was in 2009, when I wrote: David Grau is a gardener; he is also an avid supporter of sustainability, community and local food production. He has worn many hats – gardening hats and otherwise – in his life. In the late 70s and 80s, he was an organic Market Gardener selling and a co-founder of the Chico Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. His primary career for many years has been as a licensed marriage and family counselor. But he has always loved to garden and always loved the look, feel, taste and concept of locally grown food and the community in which it is produced. In 1990, he produced an improved version of a popular market garden tool – the wheel hoe, which he sells through his company Valley Oak Tools in Chico. He himself has re-landscaped his urban Chico home so that its front and back yard lawns are now mulched over and edible gardening is underway in every corner: row crops of lettuces and peas run the depth of the back yard. Citrus and fruit trees are carefully enclosed in wire frames for easy covering. And all of that is greatly interesting to me as a garden lover. But, what I really want to highlight about David’s gardening life is his current project as founder/developer of/coordinator of several impressive series: The Chico Organic Gardening Class Series. Photo: David Grau in his home garden, demonstrating the ease of his wheel-hoe.

So now we can make that his three current projects: the Chico Organic Gardening Class series, the Chico Organic Gardening Society and the publication of Valley Oak Magazine. The first two issues of Valley Oak Magazine, October and November 2010, included the following category headings: Gardening tips, Raised Bed Gardening, Farmer & Gardener, Compost & Soil, Recipes, Events, Chico Organic Gardening Society, Transportation, Green Energy, Gardening Tools, Conservation and Videos. A good number of interesting contributors are involved, including Carol Albrecht and Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Farms; biking advocate Pete Hollingsworth; and, raised bed gardener Bill Bodnar, as well as both David and Adrian. Every article I have read, I found to be well written, interesting and informative – as well as well photographed! Hard to ask for more than that – I now have the site bookmarked. In my opinion, it would be difficult to get too much information about all the good things going on in gardening in the North State. And there’s always more to learn – which is a good thing.

Sign up now for the third annual Organic Gardening Class series. The 5 meetings are on Sunday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Chico Grange Hall.

Whether you are a novice or have gardened for many years, you will enjoy the presentations from experts in growing delicious and beautiful vegetables, fruits, eggs, and more.

There will be plenty of time for questions, occasional slides shows, and our usual stunning tomato plant sale with Sawmill Creek Farm. These sessions are all at the Chico Grange Hall. We will probably have some field trips in late spring, with separate registration for each one.


January 16th: David Grau of Valley Oak Tool Company.

Overview of Organic Gardening, and organic gardening as the hub of ecological transformation.

February 6th: Rob Atkinson, home gardener.

Raised bed gardening for beginners and intermediates. Using straw as a mulch, integrating bees into the home garden, results with various varieties. Lots of slides.

February 27th: Lee Callender and Francine Stuelpnagel of GRUB Farm.

Lee and Francine from GRUB will share their favorite seed companies and varieties for both spring and summer planting. They will also discuss planting dates, methods, and their practical experiences in raising four acres of organic vegetables.

March 6th: Carl Rosato of Woodleaf Farm.

How to enliven your soil to produce heavy yields with maximum nutrient density. Carl will also discuss varieties, timing, and techniques for organic fruit production. Carl has operated Woodleaf Farm organically since 1982.

April 17th: Brian Marshall and Nancy Heinzel of Sawmill Creek Farm.

Brian and Nancy will share their vast experience growing heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. The class will have an opportunity to purchase certified naturally grown tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants.

Cost for the series: $40, COGS members: $30.

Cost for individual sessions: $10 at the door.

Refund Policy: You must notify us via email (david@valleyoaktool.com) by January 14 for refund (less $5 handling fee). NO REFUNDS after January 14.

To sign up, click here.

For more information or to be added to the Valley Oak Magazine email list, send a note to: david@valleyoakmagazine.com .

In the Garden: note card, journal and 2011 calendar collections. Support In a North State Garden AND Delight the gardeners, readers, writers and food lovers in your life with thoughtful, sophisticated and artfully unique note card sets, journals and calendars from Jewellgarden.com. Dedicated to the art, craft and science of gardening, produced wholly in the North State on recycled papers, Choose from Holiday Cards (shown above) Natives in the Garden, Edibles in the Garden and the NEW Seed Series. Available now on-line or at local fine shops near you. All of Jewellgarden.com’s cards are printed in Chico by Quadco printing using recycled paper and vegetable-based ink in many cases.

Follow Jewellgarden.com/In a North State Garden on Facebook – become a fan today!

To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com

Did you know I send out a weekly email with information about upcoming topics and gardening related events? If you would like to be added to the mailing list, send an email to Jennifer@jewellgarden.com.

In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.