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August 7, 2012 > Grape and Leaf Event

Grape and Leaf Event

By Jessica Noel Flohr

Sustainable agriculture has become a hot topic over the last decade. Writer Michael Pollan has popularized the issue with his books: The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire. His documentaries, Food Inc. and The Future of Food have made the subject more digestible to the average person. But just what is sustainable agriculture? How can urban citizens apply sustainable agricultural practices within their communities?

In order for a practice to be sustainable, it has to be beneficial and last over time. The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California Davis says that, "Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Sustainable agriculture, therefore, involves techniques and practices for growing plants or breeding animals that take into account the future impact on the environment, economy, and society as a whole.

California has a long history in agriculture. Locals are familiar with the crops and dairy farms in the valleys and the weekly farmers' markets. Today, there are numerous organizations throughout the Bay Area promoting sustainable agriculture. After the implementation of the Green Task Force in 2008, a new organization formed in Fremont to celebrate California's agricultural history and educate the public on sustainable agriculture on a local scale.

Local Agriculture and Ecology in Fremont (LEAF) began three years ago with the purpose of providing education to local residents on "sustainable and ecological practices, including local food production and organic gardening, waste reduction, green building, and resource conservation..." LEAF oversees five community gardens in Fremont, with the main garden on Main Street in Niles. Community members can participate in the gardens, connect with master gardeners, and learn about things that can be grown locally. LEAF offers several classes and workshops throughout the year on a variety of ecological topics. According to Richard Godfrey, a member of the board of directors for LEAF, sustainable agriculture in Fremont is, "becoming more popular every year."

Each year LEAF hosts an event to raise awareness of the need for sustainable agriculture and to help fund special projects. This year's Grape and LEAF event is being held at Westover Winery, a local, historical, sustainable winery operated by LEAF supporter Bill Smythe. Participants will be treated to an evening of wine tasting, music from fifteen local musicians, and catering by six Fremont restaurants. Several donors have offered prizes for the auction and raffle, including paintings by local artists and fruit trees from local nurseries. Proceeds from the event will go toward LEAF's new community garden, planned for the spring of 2013 in the old Mission Adobe Nursery.

LEAF is hoping to raise $15,000 for the project., an Alameda County organization intended to reduce waste and promote ecological beneficial practices, has offered a matching grant if LEAF receives sufficient donations. The Nursery is home to a century's old rose garden and LEAF has plans to transform the area into a beautiful place for the whole community.

Finding ways to preserve resources and create sustainable, beneficial ecological practices is so crucial in this day and age. LEAF offers great educational services to the community and opportunities to participate in something bigger than oneself. Consider donating to or volunteering with LEAF today and join them in their celebration this month. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit them on the Web at or

The Grape and LEAF Event
Saturday, August 11
Westover Winery
34329 Palomares Road, Castro Valley
(510) 885-1501
Tickets $35

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