Grow Your gardening Inspiration

Grow your gardening inspiration with East Bay garden pros at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show—March 23–27

Story and photo by Katie Trevino-Zimmerman

starapplePictured: Linda Bennett, Stefani Bittner, and Linval “Fishtea” Owens of Star Apple Edible Gardens

As more and more people get on the local-food bandwagon, some are proudly answering the movement’s central question, “Do you know where your food comes from?” with a resounding, “It comes from my own yard!”

That developing interest has not been lost on the organizers of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, which takes place March 23–27 at the San Mateo Event Center. This year they are emphasizing the relationship between gardening and organic cuisine with “Chef Worthy Garden Talks” by speakers such as Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, Bob Klein of Oliveto (and founder of Community Grains), and Anya Fernald of Live Culture Company and Eat Real. There will be cooking demos (including one by Chef Sean Baker of Gather restaurant), and an unprecedented 6,000-square-foot edible garden. The garden space is designed by Oakland-based Star Apple Edible Gardens.

“California cuisine started in the East Bay,” says Stefani Bittner, a member of the Star Apple team. Her partners in Star Apple are Leslie Bennett, a former corporate lawyer turned landscaper, and Linval “Fishtea” Owens, a lifelong landscaper and farmer from Jamaica.

The three are coordinating the Garden Show’s outdoor exhibit, “The Modern Homestead,” which features a replica home and full-size garden to help visitors visualize ways to apply traditional homesteading skills to their modern lifestyle. Learn how to raise backyard chickens in an eco-friendly way with a green roof chicken coop designed by Modern Cabana of San Francisco, or how to support Seascape strawberries in a rock garden. Watch Dafna Kory of INNA Jam demonstrate how to capture the flavor of specific fruit varieties in delicious homemade preserves. Meet some unique vegetables, such as shungiku (edible chrysanthemum), speckled romaine lettuces, and spigariello (kale broccoli) in a visit with Fred Hempel and Jill Shepard of Baia Nicchia Farm and Nursery of Sunol. Also look for the East Bay’s own Kassenhoff Growers, Ploughshares Nursery, Sunnyside Organic Seedlings, Magic Gardens, and BA Design Lab (which makes beautiful tables, benches, and compost bins from repurposed wooden shipping pallets). The Sunset Magazine Test Garden team, led by Johanna Silver, will have a test garden in the exhibit, and Greywater Action of San Francisco will show how gardeners can join in a cycle of self-sustainability by harvesting rainwater to support their burgeoning edibles.

Other highlights of the show are the wine-tasting area, hosted by the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, and a showing of excerpts from Symphony of the Soil, filmmaker Deborah Garcia’s documentary follow-up to her blockbuster, The Future of Food.

New features and participants are being added daily, so be sure to check for updates.

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