We continue to develop resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. See COVID-19 initiatives on Appropedia for more information.

Abuelita's Garden Engr305 project 2020

From Appropedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Engr305 Appropriate Technology page in progress
This page is a project in progress by students in Engr305 Appropriate Technology. Please do not make edits unless you are a member of the team working on this page, but feel free to make comments on the discussion page. Check back for the finished version on May 23, 2020.



We the "Decision Makers" from the ENGR 305 Spring 2020 class, want to utilize our constructive and sustainability skills as well as our connections within the community to create an Edible Entrance Archway for the community of Eureka to appreciate.

Problem statement

The objective of this project is to create a community edible Archway to Abuelita's Garden, utilizing sustainably sourced materials, native plants and permaculture strategies to make a long-lasting improvement that everyone can enjoy.

Project Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will be used to assess the success of this project. These criteria were chosen based on the suggestions of the project coordinator as well as the diligent students who are working on the vertical garden entrance. The scale (1-10) represents the importance level of meeting the constraint of each listed criteria.

Criteria Constraints Weight
Cost Will be below the budget of $300
Maintainability Will be easy to repair when needed and will require minimal upkeep outside of normal operations
Aesthetics Must be pleasing to the eye and look professional
Educational Aspect Must include an educational piece for the community (something to explain the concepts and tools utilized)
Safety & Placement Must not interfere with walking paths and must be easily accessible
Sustainability Must consider sustainability in the short and long term in design and function
Functionality Must sufficiently act as a vertical garden and appealing entranceway
Pest Control Must take into consideration pest control, especially the local deer issue
Ease of Construction Design and materials must not be too difficult to work with

Proposed Timeline

Final Decisions Due by Notes
Alternative solution
Which Structure we decide to Prototype
Plant Choice
Which Native or Edible plants we want
Materials Ready
Materials gathered and ready to start construction
Finish Prototyping
Make our final failures before building the real thing
Building/ Planting Party
Go to Abuelita's Garden to Build the Creation
Final Paper
Project Written Reflection Due

Interview(s) and Observations


Interview 1: on February 14th at 1 pm the “Decision Makers” met with the head of the Abuelitas garden project manager, Matt Drummond. Matt is the manager of three different community garden projects in Eureka. He showed us the Toolshed with lots of tools that will need to be utilized. The garden is on a hill slanted toward a wetland just off the 101 in Eureka. Matt said that last year's biggest issue was that the deer kept getting in. He is building a fence that will be done 2 weeks, in hopes of solving the issue. When asked about the plants he would want to see in the garden he replied with kiwis and hops. I was surprised that there weren't more people there on the regular for volunteering and whatnot.


Observation 1: The location of this garden is near a wetland behind the freeway. I observed a couple of homeless people walking by and figure if this garden was growing edible foods, it could be utilized by people who are not always able to access healthy food.

Observation 2: One of the striking observations that I came across was the amount of wildlife that flourished around and within the garden. The nearby wetland provided habitat for a countless number of bird species that would swarm around the garden premises. Another observation and concern was the high deer population that threatened the efficiency of the garden last season. With a proposed fence to be built this should solve the issue of deer eating staple food crops this time around.

Literature Review

Hugelkulture Basics

A Hugelkultur is a raised bed, with multiple organic layers of different varieties that decompose over time. This is a great way to use spare tree trimmings lying about, for enriches the soil with biodiversity. These beds are get filled like a lasagna with composts, lawn trimmings, dead logs, manure and so on to make an excellent home for fruits and vegetables.[1] [2]

Vertical Garden

Vertical Gardening has many different components with the process, but the finished product can be super satisfying. We need to create pods for the different plants to make sure that they have room to grow. Irrigation, Light, and Air exposure are key for vertical gardening. Drip irrigation will probably be our best option.[3] [4]

Vertical Gardening deeply depends on light, water, air, and nutrients. By focusing on natural soil additives that hold moisture. Rather than strain through the soil, you are giving the plants more resilient structures to work with. [5]

Native Plants

A variety of native plants that thrive in Northern California’s temperate rainforest climate can be implemented into Abuelita’s Garden. Some potential species include the Fuchsia-flowering gooseberry, Pink-flowering currant, Common Snowberry, and the Bluff California Lilac. These specific varieties provide habitat for local wildlife and have aesthetically pleasing blooms or berries during the winter months. While native perennials are not the focus of this project they still do provide positive impacts upon the overall environment especially when companion planted with conventional food crops.[6]

Being aware of the seasonal patterns that affect native plants and all crops, in general, is extremely vital to the success of any garden design. Planting during the winter season must be devised around the potential frosts that could threaten the survival of young saplings or transplants. The best season to plant native species is during the winter months as this provides exponential amounts of rainwater to help establish fresh transplants. Based on the information provided in this book our group will begin planting native species just in time for the newly established plants to receive a substantial amount of rainfall.[7]

With Abuelita’s Garden having relatively close proximity to the coastline, being aware of potential flooding and threats of sea-level rise in the near future would be very important. Specific native marsh or wetland species would be a beneficial addition to the garden in order to provide education for the public on the preservation of our endemic coastal plants that are currently under threat of extinction. [8]

Community Inquiries

Abuelitas serves Eureka's Homeless Community Garden, the garden is dedicated to providing homeless clients of Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) fresh produce year-round, with opportunities to learn environmentally friendly growing practices. In the past Abuelitas has had free workshops on pruning fruit trees and how to nourish the soil. [9]

Community Gardens have adopted a political performance by a number of radical social movements. They are mentioned in writing from global justice and anti-capitalist movements, for example, Cuba went through a Green Revolution after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cuba was left without resources for food so they started building and creating community gardens so they were able to harvest their own food without relying on other resources. Community gardens are a way for communities to come together and create a sustainable and free way of eating healthy food. [10]

Community Gardens can be beneficial to the environment and to the well being and health of community members. The introduction of community gardens may be able to reduce the impact of food deserts in low-income areas and allow residents an opportunity to access nutritious foods that they may otherwise not have access to. They can be a helpful addition to many communities by increasing the availability of healthy food, strengthening community ties, and creating a more sustainable system [11]

Construction and Materials

It is preferred to use recycled and sustainable materials when possible. While in the early stages of research, a new fence is planned to be built on the project site around the perimeter of the garden. Different methods and materials were explored in order to find what would be best for the needs of our project. Three different materials were examined for appropriate use: wood, salvaged wood, and bamboo.


This[12] was an excellent source on both lumber choices and trellis structures, which will likely be incorporated in the project. Cedar, cypress, redwood, and white pine would be optimal for our project for its structural strength and rot-resistance. While the affordability of each wood is still in question and is likely regional, these four will be our go-to’s if we decide to purchase new lumber for the project. Salvaged wood was also mentioned in the book as a possible material source and would be much more affordable and environmentally friendlier than purchasing new wood. While another source will be consulted for information on salvaged wood, this book offered fine tips.

Salvaged Wood

This[13] site offered an insightful guide to finding safe wooden pallets and preparing them for projects. This might be our best choice for building material as there is likely an abundance within a reasonable distance of the project site. Assuming we can acquire safe pallets free or at a cheap price, it would be our most economical choice. Important takeaways include:

  • Look for IPPC logo
  • If marked with codes DB, HT, or EPAL, it is safe. Otherwise, it is safer to discard
  • Avoid all colored pallets
  • Break down the pallet carefully using a cat’s paw or pry bar

Reading through this[14] manual on bamboo revealed that it is likely not the best option for our project. Sourcing bamboo would be less convenient and likely less affordable than salvaged wood, and the limitations of bamboo make it less than compatible with the project location. While it was an excellent source of learning the uses of bamboo construction and the material could find its place in other parts of the garden, it is likely not our best option.


While we will most likely build into the soon-to-be fence, there is a chance we will set our own fence posts and the methods to do so were considered, along with methods for constructing a trellis to use as a vertical garden space. The first post setting method was using a concrete substitute that would be more environmentally friendly than conventional concrete. Greencrete[15] was considered, which recycles industrial byproducts such as fly ash and slag cement. It may be worth the extra effort assuming the materials are easily accessible, but in reality it is most likely outside the scope of our project. The second and preferred method is to key[16] the posts. This method includes adding a wide board, perpendicular to the direction the post will be stressed, to the post about an inch under the soil. This adds reinforcement where necessary without the need for concrete, which would likely increase the risk of the post rotting. This method will also make the post easier to replace if necessary. Building a trellis is something we can likely do while integrating the new fence, thus giving it multiple uses. This[17] book gave a brief overview of various trellis designs, which will contribute to the overall design and aesthetic choices of the vertical garden. It also gave insight such as taking into account the foreseen size and weight of the plants expected to climb it, suggesting stringer, thicker wood for woody plants.

Designing interpretive materials

According to ______ interpretive materials for composting should include....


  1. Hayden, Nancy J., and Hayden, John P. Farming on the Wild Side: the Evolution of a Regenerative Organic Farm and Nursery. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2019.
  2. https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur
  3. https://www.appropedia.org/Hydroponic_Vertical_Garden_at_Sembradores_Urbanos.
  4. Kozai, et al. Plant Factory: An Indoor Vertical Farming System for Efficient Quality Food Production. Academic Press Is an Imprint of Elsevier, 2016.
  5. López-Rodríguez, Glenny, et al. “Behavior and Evolution of Sustainable Organic Substrates in a Vertical Garden.” Ecological Engineering, vol. 93, 2016, pp. 129–134.
  6. Rubin, Greg, and Lucy Warren. The California Native Landscape the Homeowners Design Guide to Restoring Its Beauty and Balance. Timber Press, 2013.
  7. Popper, Helen Ann. California Native Gardening: a Month-by-Month Guide. University of California Press, 2012.
  8. Garner KL, Chang MY, Fulda MT, Berlin JA, Freed RE, Soo-Hoo MM, Revell DL, Ikegami M, Flint LE, Flint AL, Kendall BE. 2015. Impacts of sea-level rise and climate change on coastal plant species on the central California coast. PeerJ 3:e958 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.958
  9. People Powered Produce. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2020, from http://www.northcoastgardens.org/
  10. Nettle, Claire. Community Gardening As Social Action. Ashgate, 2014.
  11. Lawson, Laura J. City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America. Berkeley: U of California, 2005. Web.
  12. Brimer, John Burton. 1971. Homeowner's Complete Outdoor Building Book. [Rev., expanded, updated]. New York: Popular Science Pub. Co.
  13. “Preparing Wood Pallets for Upcycling.” PartSelect.com. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://www.fix.com/blog/preparing-wood-pallets-for-upcycling/.
  14. Janssen, Jules J. A. 1988. Building with Bamboo. Intermediate Technology.
  15. Becknell, Natalie Peterson, Micah Hale, Seamus F. Freyne, Stephan Anthony Durham and Anthony J. Lamanna. “Greencrete: A project on environmentally friendly concrete.” (2006).
  16. “22 Concrete Alternatives for Driveways, Fence Posts and Foundations.” Home Stratosphere, December 4, 2019. https://www.homestratosphere.com/concrete-alternatives/.
  17. Brimer, John Burton. 1971. Homeowner's Complete Outdoor Building Book. [Rev., expanded, updated]. New York: Popular Science Pub. Co.