What’s New: California Native Garden Foundation mission gains allies, momentum

As you know our mission at CNGF is to help folks create beautiful California native gardens at home, where you work and where your kids and grandkids go to school.

In 2009, we created ELSEE (the environmental lab for sustainability & ecological education), our pre-k through 8th-grade teaching lab at Middlebrook Center. It is a certified site, sustainablesites.org/projects, recognized by United States Green Building Council. It is the only certified site in Santa Clara County.

ELSEE demonstrates two hundred benchmarks for sustainable urban land use, all designed to restore nature while protecting our soils, air and water.

The eco village model can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 86 percent over existing urban developments. That’s right, native gardens sequester more carbon than conventional landscapes.

We recognize that the tremendous loss of biodiversity on our planet is attributed to modern agriculture methods. In fact, how humans grow most of our food is the primary cause for loss of habitat and species eradication.

In 2013, we traveled to Ghana and started an ecology-driven, regenerative agriculture training program in Yamoransa. We are teaching local people to restore their land, using no-till methods to set up small plots and introduce their ancestral food and medicinal plants. We are planting native trees and food and nut trees.

Now we have restored the soils at 22 sites and started our Earth Heroes badge program at local schools in Yamoransa. Other villages in the region are coming to learn.

Five outstanding trained regen farmers are producing 5 times more food at their garden sites using no till and only organic methods.


Through the Earth Heroes school badge program, students 6 to 14 years are learning how to grow food and restore nature at the same time with project-based learning in the gardens. We also began our Earth Heroes Badge Program at ELSEE’s Nature Camp this summer.


In 2015, in Silicon Valley, we were hired to create a vision for a housing development with a working farm, community and native gardens, native hedgerows and nature walks! This open space will be the first of its kind in America for nearly 1,000 residents who will pay low income, affordable and market rates rents. It is the Santa Clara Agrihood.

In 2017 we will have our grand opening as the first eco village in San Jose.

Joining CNGF, Middlebrook Gardens and Epic Coffee, is our wonderful, new partner, Mindful Ways. Jennifer Jeffcoat, a midwife and doula, is the director.

Come and visit our newly remodeled garage space and outdoor class area. We’ll be posting our calendar of classes this month.

We have a new crop of interns from SJSU, SCU and UCSC. We are partnering with SJSU Engineers Without Borders Club who will be rebuilding our Aquaponics farm. We have many opportunities for volunteering and mentoring our students.

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