How to Hug a Hügel: July 21 Workshop at Cloverfield Organic Farm

While you can’t actually hug a hügel, you can learn about this bio-intensive garden-building technique while helping to build a hügel at Cloverfield Organic Farm in El Sobrante on Thursday, July 21 during the farm’s Summer Volunteer Workshop.

Susan Truscott, who founded this small u-pick farm in 2011, explains that building a hügel is a good way to deal with downed trees and large fallen limbs (like the eucalyptus limb that will be used for the new hugel). In a hügel, the carbon load of the downed wood is effectively being returned to the ground as it gets packed together with farm clippings, compost, and garden soil to create a fungal-rich growing mound for new plantings.

Other activities tentatively planned for the farm’s volunteer workshop include:

  • Spraying compost tea to enrich the microbial life on the farm’s fruit trees and grapevines so that they are better protected from diseases and insects
  • Hand-weeding between the pomegranate trees and irises along the driveway
  • Sheet-mulching with wood chips and cardboard to define walkways and discourage annual weeds
  • Amending trees and shrubs with a magic mix of organic soil nutrients
  • Processing and packaging dried herbs for sale in the farm shed
  • Thinning out the rhubarb bed and potting up some of the thinnings for sale
  • Clearing wild blackberry vines from under the olive trees

Meet Magic Ben the medicine horse. (Photo courtesy of Cloverfield Organic Farm)

Bonus: When you need a break from the work, you can see whether there might be a chance to hug Magic Ben the medicine horse who lives on the property and roams free-range when his human is there to keep an eye on him.

Summer Volunteer Workshop
Cloverfield Organic Farm
501 La Paloma Rd, El Sobrante
Thursday, July 21, 9:30am to 1:30pm
(Note: The farm is open for u-pick Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon to 5pm.)

The farm will provide tools, drinking water, coffee, and light snacks. Participants of all ages and levels of experience can participate. Wear sturdy shoes, garden gloves, a wide-brimmed hat, and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You’ll need to sign a release of liability which you can review in advance.

If you would like to participate, please contact the farm through their website or by email at


Cloverfield Organic Farm in El Sobrante hosts a wide variety of food plants that customers can harvest during u-pick hours. (Photo courtesy of Cloverfield Organic Farm)