Edible Gardens

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Landscaper for edible garden and kid playspace

March 2012

We are looking for recommendations for someone to design and install a new garden for us. We have about a 2500 sq ft yard and would like to have some permaculture style edible gardening - fruit trees, berries, kitchen garden - as well as some areas where our toddler can play in the grass and where we can install a swing set. We've found listings for people who do edible landscapes, but I can't tell whether they would also be happy designing play spaces or would want to populate the whole yard with vegetables. Thanks! Miranda

I posted the same question about a month ago and found the perfect person through BPN. His name is Sai Duhamel and he does edible landscaping/permaculture and is very practical about how we are really going to use our space. Our 6 and 3 year old boys take up a lot of our small yard and he helped us plan out an ecolawn space for them sided by espalier trees that save space and still have fruit. He was really easy to work with on the design and implementation and we're planning to have him come back weekly in the summer to help us with the maintenance. His number is 510-428-7645 and he's quick with email: saihokulani [at] gmail.com. Fruity Family

Paul Burns designs exactly these kinds of spaces - edible, playful, delightful. He's a great listener, honest and good-humored. You'll get a garden you love and that will grow with your family. He's easiest to reach via email: paolo_burns [at] yahoo.com signed, Michele

I'd recommend Sarah Ray Design. She installed a garden for my wife and I when we needed a better play space in the back yard for our kids. We have a steep backyard that was overgrown with black berry bushes. It was a mess that I'd ignored for several years until we had to deal with it. My friend recommended Sarah and she designed a plan that was in our budget. We got all the elements that we wanted- new patio for my bar-b-que, vegetable boxes, and level play space. Her crew finished ahead of schedule with very few hiccups. Here's the contact info www.sarahraydesign.com

Gardener with a nutrition background

May 2011

I'm looking for a recommendation for someone to help our family plant some edibles this spring/summer. This could either be a full size vegetable garden or container pots. We'd ultimately love to find someone with a background in horticulture to help with some major pruning of our gardens/trees throughout the year and if possible a nutrition background to help with the edibles. If you've got someone you'd recommend, please let us know! Sara

It sounds like Jen Putzer would be perfect for you. I first hired Jen because I read a BPN post about her pruning, which said she did a perfect job - as if giving all the trees and plants perfect haircuts. She is in fact an expert pruner and has a horticultural background. She prunes artfully allowing for beautiful, healthy and abundant growth on vines, trees, and bushes. Soon Jen was helping me remake my backyard, giving me suggestions on plants suitable for the different areas in my yard and giving me suggestions for maintenance I could be doing between her visits. What I really wanted however was a vegetable garden. Upon mentioning that to Jen, she said that she would be happy to figure out the best place for it, build the box, and give me nutritional advice for my daughter and me. Jen's nutritional knowledge is extensive (she has a degree in nutrition) and her abilities to adapt that knowledge to our dietary preferences was impressive- we now have a vegetable box in our garden providing organic vegetables that we not only love, but also provide us with plenty of vitamins. Jen is extremely easy to work with: she- ll work within your budget, time frame, aesthetic sensibilities, and idiosyncrasies. There is nothing that she has done in my yard that I have not loved. She combines scientific knowledge with art, and truly makes your yard come alive. Jen can be reached at:510.499.1253 or at: plant_chic [at] yahoo.com Suzy

Need help building backyard garden

May 2011

I am looking for someone to come and build a raised backyard vegetable/herb garden over a concrete slab. Also, if they could help me plant and teach me how to take care of it from that time onward. I do not have room for a garden in the ground directly but am aching to grow some of my own veggies and herbs. Also, skunks, possums may be an issue and I will need to know how to cover the plants or otherwise deal with the critters. gardener to be

You should call Jen Putzer. I was just like you and wanted to start a vegetable garden but was overwhelmed by the thought of doing it all by myself. I hired Jen to build the box, haul in the dirt, plan where to put it, and install it. Then I worked with Jen to decide what veggies would work the best. Jen has a degree in nutrition and extensive gardening experience. I now have an amazing vegetable garden. Jen can be reached at 510.499.1253 or plant_chic [at] yahoo.com Suzy

Park Guthrie of Wildcat Farmers https://wildcatfarmers.wordpress.com/ is about the nicest and most knowledgeable garden shepherd there can be. He is an urban homesteading expert. You couldn't ask for a more wonderful person to be working with you on your backyard garden. We are friends with their family, and he created a lovely, productive deer-protected garden for another friend of mine. Wildcat Fan

I highly recommend Helio from SOL Yard and Tree Service. He does wonderful work at a reasonable price. Very hard worker! Very helpful and a great person. He does gardening, maintenance, building, hauling and tree removal. His number is: 510-239-6842. Gretchen

Landscape designer for edibles and natives

March 2011

We are looking for someone to help transform our front yard (lawn) into an attractive vegetable/non-edibles/herbs garden and to help with irrigation and planting elsewhere in our garden as well. We have done some initial work amending soil and pulling weeds and plants and would like to work with someone who is open to our contributing (labor, basically) where and when we can in the early stages of the project. Our sloped, sunny front yard needs irrigation installed by a knowledgable person (not us!) and some hardscaping as well as vegetables and non- edibles. We would also like to pull up and redo old irrigation elsewhere in our garden and plant low-water natives. It looks like there are lots of amazing designers out there (recs on BPN and elsewhere) but I am having trouble finding anyone who does edibles as more than an afterthought AND has a strong aesthetic sense that includes non-edibles. Please, genuine recommendations only, rather than posts that fulfill contractor requests for 'recommendations.' Thanks! Need edibles + curb appeal

Cecily Hunter. She has a very romantic eye. She helped me with some design. We bought plants together and planted together. She's lovely. 292-1214. She probably has a site, I dunno. She is another Canyon Lady. Reenie

Star Apple Edible Gardens sounds perfect for your project. They recently redesigned our front and side gardens and we are incredibly happy with the result. It turned out even better than I hoped for and I am still tickled every time I go outside and see how great it looks. They are nice to work with and knowledgable and they stayed within our budget. I was worried about adding edibles but they made me a believer. They integrated them beautifully with a mostly succulent garden. They also installed an irrigation system for us so I expect they can help replace your old one. I had a not great experience with the last landscaping company I worked with (thus the need for a re-do) so this was a very nice surprise. http://www.starappleediblegardens.com/ loving my garden

Hello, For help with edible gardening, I wholeheartedly recommend Park Guthrie at Wildcat Farmers. Park is a friend of mine who has recently worked with us on our Berkeley garden, helping us plant fruit trees along with a beautiful under-layer of medicinal herbs. Park brings passion and deep knowledge to edible gardening, and he is the most kind, honest, and hardworking person you can imagine. He is also extremely knowledgable about low-impact irrigation and greywater options. And his prices are reasonable! Here is their contact info: Park Guthrie (510) 691-5051 www.wildcatfarmers.com Best of luck with your garden - It's so exciting to be growing some of our own food! - happy gardener

I cannot recommend Heidi Tarver highly enough. www.BerkeleyGardenCoach.com. Not only does she have a green thumb (I'm all thumbs), but she is an accomplished sculptor and painter with a remarkable visual aesthetic, so her gardens are unique living works of art. All Thumbs

I second the recommendation for Park Guthrie. He'll also help you with chicken keeping, building raised veggie boxes, grey water installation, and bee keeping. Here is their contact info: Park Guthrie (510) 691-5051 www.wildcatfarmers.com Maria

Designer/architect for sustainable + edibles garden

May 2010

We are looking for someone who can bring our garden back to life but have no idea where to start! We've been diligently clearing ivy that overtook the yard years ago and the new and increasingly bald (!) landscape needs some serious thought paid to drainage, irrigation and possibly terracing before we plant. I've seen recommendations for designers on BPN but am concerned we should get a landscape architect rather than a designer to advise on the drainage and irrigation design -- is this true?

In the backyard we have fruit and flowering trees that we'd like to keep but would otherwise like to install native and/or low-water plants and use sustainable practices like greywater/rainwater, permaculture, etc. where possible and avoid lawn. We like organic designs rather than anything too stiff/classical and composed or sharply modern and architectural but we do also value a functional garden space where we can sit and our kids can play. We also love to garden ourselves so would hate to have a garden that is too pristine for us to touch!

Additionally, the front yard is a series of raised, terraced beds once stuffed with ugly plants by a landscape stager and now in need of serious love -- a blank canvas!

Is it true that landscape architects and designers create a plan but then you have to search all over again for a contractor you trust to install everything? Do architects/designers take a cut (i.e. you pay more) if you go with contractors they recommend? I'm totally lost and any advice is appreciated! Does certification for landscape designers and current licensing for trained landscape architects matter? Ready to plant!

Because of the work that I do I've gotten to know many landscapers and gardeners and your post made me think of Christopher Shein of Wild Heart Gardens who is also the Permaculture Instructor up at Merritt's Landscape Horticulture Dept. I think he's got everything you are looking for - expert knowledge of native plants, edible plants, kid-friendly, greywater, drainage and pretty much every conceivable sustainability issue you can think of. He will design and install and he's a really pleasant person to work with. wildheartgardens.com Roxanne Andersen, Handsown Nursery

Hi Ready to Plant, Suzanne Arca Designs is a wonderful place to start as well as Feyerabend and Madden Landscape Architects. Suzanne is educated in landscape architecture and a licensed landscape contractor. She will design and build her own landscapes. Bobbi Feyerabend (pronounced Fire-ah-bend) is an artist turned licensed landscape architect who will design your landscape but does not have a crew to build it. It is sometimes less expensive to go with a design- builder like Suzanne Arca since they don't have to detail their drawings as finely as they will be the ones building the garden. I recommend calling both these amazing designers and ask these questions for yourself. They are both very accessible and fun to talk to about garden design. It is their passion! Suzanne's office number is (510) 558-0636 and her website is: http://www.suzannearcadesign.com/. Feyerabend and Madden is (510) 450-0803 and their website is: http://www.fmlanddesign.com/. Best of luck and make sure you enjoy the process! Landscape and Plant Nerd

I highly recommend WRA in San Rafael. They do exactly the type of work you described and have people who actually specialize in rain water management and sustainable building/design. Megan Stromberg is one of their senior designers and is extremely knowledgable while easy to work with. Their info: www.wra-ca.com 2169 Francisco Boulevard East San Rafael, CA 94901-5532 (415) 454-8868 yalda

You need a landscape architect and I'm recommending Sue Oda, who did a great job on my landscaping. She's a Certified Bay Friendly Landscape Professional, specializing in sustainable gardens. Bay Friendly Certification is important to make sure your landscape professional understands sustainable practices, and is not just saying so. Sue teaches you a lot of things because much of what will keep the garden sustainable is the maintenance practices done by the you or your hired landscape maintenance professionals. She uses organic methods of weed control, pest control and development of healthy plants. She has contractors that she trusts, knows that they do good work, that they will maintain the integrity of her designs, and there is no ''kick-back'' involved. She's gives free consultation, or did anyway. Call her at 510-648-8789 and view her website: sue [at] sueoda.com kathleen

Wonderful landscape designer who helped us create a lovely cut/fragrance garden as well as vegetable garden. Has long worked in Marin and has starting taking on some east bay clients. She has a wonderful eye, deep knowledge of flora, and helped us sort out what we really wanted and how best to create it. Lynne Steinsieck Designs www.steinsieck.com 415-491-4260 Hana

I would like to recommend Andy Lenz of Sempervivum Garden Design -- he not only designs landscapes, he is also a complete installer and general contractor. He has the tools - Bobcat, dump truck, reliable crew (!)- to do the entire job. He knows plants - and loves natives and edibles. The work he did for us was not as extensive as some of his other gardens that I've seen, but I love his work. I've been impressed with his blend of creativity and practicality. I only wish we could use him some more. He's a great guy (and a new dad) too! Contact him at 510-812-8954 or email enzand [at] gmail.com Sharon

We had a great experience with Star Apple Edible Gardens based in Oakland. Leslie and Sai came to our house and completely redesigned our yard to be a little food ecosystem. We are now growing 80% fruits and vegetables and are very productive after one year. They were very professional, knowledgeable, fun to work with, even within our limited budget. http://starappleediblegardens.com/ 510-922-1258 Amanda

Planting Justice helped us to convert our entire front lawn into a mini-farm and a large part of our back yard into fruit and herb and veggie gardens. I contacted them based on a recommendation I saw on Berkeley Parents Network, and I described my ''dream'' of making both our yards into both beautiful and productive gardens. I wasn't sure if my budget would allow me to cover everything that I wanted to do, so I asked them to prioritize the back yard. Gavin and two more designers came out for an assessment, and I was thrilled to learn that they could do it ALL within my budget! They did soil tests to make sure our soil was safe, then the crews showed up. In one day, they completely converted the back yard, and about a week later they completely converted the front yard, also in one day. Their group was jovial, hard-working, and overall dedicated to their mission of helping others to grow edible gardens. A month and a half later, our garden is thriving, and we're already getting some meals out of it! We have gotten lots of positive comments on it from neighbors, friends, and passers by. We've also been invited to be part of a ''Homestead Tour'' in the fall, so we're meeting other people in the area who have this same passion. If you've been thinking about trying to get a garden started and just haven't had the right amount of motivation or time to get it off the ground, I highly recommend asking Planting Justice to help. In addition to the enthusiastic and dedicated work you'll get during the installation of the garden, Planting Justice also provides detailed information on plant choices and plant care, recommendations on resources for various aspects of garden keeping, and personal follow-up. It's been a wonderful experience for my family- the highlight of our year so far!

Looking for someone to help me start an edible garden

Feb 2010

Hello, I am looking for someone to help me start an edible garden in Montclair. I would like someone who has experience and references. Thanks adrienne

See handsownnursery.com (the links page) for some names of experienced people to design and/or install an edible garden. I have a small edibles plant nursery selling veggie seedlings in local farmers' markets and I often get that question so put some names on my website. Hope that helps! Roxanne Andersen,Handsown Nursery

Haleh and Gavin at Planting Justice (www.PlantingJustice.org) are amazing.

Formerly known as The Backyard Food Project, they built the organic edible garden at our non-profit school pro bono.

I have since recommended them to a plethora of friends and family, all of whom were very pleased with their work. This is a great organization to support as the paid work they do supports their probono projects for low income communities and schools.

Garden Coach? Master gardener?

April 2009

We would like to do a veggie garden for the first time this year. We're willing to invest some money in getting professional help in choosing plants, their location, how much to water, that sort of thing. Looking for a neighbor who is a master gardener who can help, or someone who actually does this for a living. Willing to pay $25 per hour or so. Location is Berkeley, Sacramento St near Allston. Thanks, everyone!

Do you have children? If so, I might know the perfect person for you. My friend, UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Program graduate and former elementary school garden teacher Elizabeth Beak just started a business called the Family Garden Patch. The Family Garden Patch is a garden education and consulting practice working with Bay area families to help them plan, design and care for an organic garden patch, this season, in their own backyard. A season subscription includes monthly lessons and garden maintenance from April-November, a resource binder for the adults of the family, a garden tool kit for the kids, and access to the Patch Family Blog, where you can ask questions between visits and network with other Patch families.

Having worked with Elizabeth, I know she's a gifted teacher and all-around warm and wonderful person. She continually inspired me, and I was just a co-worker!

If this sounds like a good fit for you, contact Elizabeth for more details and a list of references. elizbeak [at] gmail.com or beak [at] familygardenpatch.com. You're welcome to contact me as a reference, as well. Good luck! Daria

I know a fabulous garden designer who has a strong interest in home food production and urban farming. He provides plans, consultations, and/or on-going support. His name is Porter Poirier, Poirier Garden Design, 3901 Brown Avenue, Oakland. His office phone is (510) 531-6930; cell (510) 788-0978. Have fun and Enjoy! Dana

Hi I LOVE Doreen Frost, she has helped us with our home garden, designing and planting our veg garden and maintenance. She charges 25.00 hour and is a delightful person. Doreen's number is 510-206-3802 Anon

Landscape designer who incorporates edibles

Feb 2008

I'm seeking recommendations for a landscaper who incorporates edible plants into landscape plans. We have small front and backyard decorative gardens, and would like to fill some spaces with edibles (herbs, berries, veggies) but in a way that doesn't disrupt the visual harmony of the space. We're looking to mix edible and decorative plants together in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and practical (a functional kitchen garden)--and organic only, please! Plant Eater

I have an excellent recommendation for you: Sharon Silverman from Dans Le Jardin L.L.C. She is a landscape designer who does garden design, installation (irrigation too), maintenance and garden coaching. She is a consummate professional and absolutely full-service. You must come to visit her demonstration garden at her home in Kensington to see that she is a perfect match for your needs. She has two little boys 5 and 8 and incorporates the important concept of organic, edible landscaping into her demonstration garden in unique and beautiful ways to teach her kids about the importance of ''green'' food and how to grow it. She is a genius at using space wisely. Her garden contains espaliered boysenberry vines, raspberry vines, a multitude of espaliered antique apple and pear tress and some raised vegetables beds that she plants from organic seed a couple times a year. I know she is in high demand, but I know she will accommodate your needs if at all possible. The only caveat is that her expertise is not inexpensive, but of excellent value. You can contact her by phone at 510-851-2203 or by email at sharon at danslejardin.com. ncook

Want to establish a vegetable garden - fog

Feb 2008

I am looking for someone with lots of experience in edible gardening to help me establish a vegetable garden at my home in El Cerrito. I get a lot of fog and the soil has been amended over the past 5 years but is still basically clay. What can I grow, how to best amend the soil, raised bed or not? Help! susan

I am responding to the 'native plants garden design consultant needed' question and the 'need to help plant a vegetable garden question.' I would highly recommend Christopher Shein from Wildheart gardens for both questions. He has been planting and teaching about native and edible gardens for greater than 15 years and also teaches about the subjects through his permaculture design class at Merrit College landscape horticulture department. He converted my lawn into a prolific and beautiful native and edible garden that is partly on a greywater system. He works efficiently and with integrity, and I found him to be very knowledgeable about natives and sustainable landscaping. He can be reached at 510-368-2811. He also has a website at wildheartgardens.com Runa

Susan, You need to look no further than Sharon Silverman from Dans Le Jardin L.L.C. I hired her as my garden coach (although is fully capable of providing the entire range of landscaping services), by the hour, to assist me with making maximum use of the limited garden vegetable space I have in my garden. Because she has been growing her own organic vegetables in the foggy hills of Kensington for 10 years now, she has excellent advice on how to design, seed and grow the vegetable garden of your dreams. And, your clay soil is not a problem, as it's very nutrient-rich soil. Moreover, she writes excellent, clear, personalized advice emails on how to follow up on all her instructions and exactly where to purchase all the materials she recommends to be successful at your endeavors. She believes that there is no better way to treat yourself and your guests than to sit down to a table with a salad that is completely grown and just picked from your own garden. She provides tremendous value and unbeatable, quality service. Sharonms phone is 510-851-2203 and email is Sharon at danslejardin.com. Tehiyah Parent

There was a wonderful landscape designer that I met at the Shades of Green Home and Garden Tour & Green Design Expo last Fall in Crocker Highlands, Mae Clark, whose company, Plenty Productive Landscapes, specializes in Edible Landscape Design & Maintenance. Her website explains a lot, and she is just a really nice person, too! You can reach her at: website: www.growplenty.com maezing at growplenty.com 510-237-3276 Dalya