Solutions (12)

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Native plant landscaping saves water and adds beauty to your home and garden

Bottom Line: Landscaping with California native plants is an ecologically sustainable way to beautify your home or business, save water, cut CO2 emissions, and create wildlife habitat.

California Native Gardening

Water shortages are increasingly common, and everything that we can do in order to save water makes a difference. Even more substantial than taking shorter showers or collecting wastewater from your kitchen or bathroom is reducing the amount of water you use outside. Gardens and landscaping are very precious but can often involve large, costly amounts of water. Not only do they involve these impositions, but also they are usually done with gas-powered, and polluting equipment. Other benefits of this idea are that it cuts the use of synthetic fertilizers, and reinforces the natural beauty of the native California landscape. There is an easier solution other than spending a fortune on water for an alluring, high maintenance garden – substitute many or all of your plants for native plants! Aside from these plants being gorgeous and easy to take care of, they don’t call for much water. Most California native plants are exquisite and look good year round, but other low water plants can be great too. California has tons of beautiful native plants that require barely any water. You can find the plants at any reputable nursery for a reasonable price. In the end, not only will you have a beautiful, exotic, and fun filled garden, but you will be saving water, the planet, and have a few extra bucks in your pocket!

Making Wine Production in San Mateo Sustainable

Bottom line: Sustainable wine production can offer significant environmental benefits.

A Gopher Free Garden

Bottom Line: Gophers are smart and persistent animals, but with a few tricks you can protect your garden.

A Gopher Free GardenGopher-free garden? Well, OK, not really.

If you live in parts of the west where pocket gophers are common and you are a gardener, you no doubt have watched plants disappear as gophers pull them underground.

While it is impossible to keep all gophers out of your garden, there are things you can do to control their ravages. Of these suggestions that follow, I’ve found predators, raised beds and traps solutions that allow me to enjoy productive gardening.

Visit Harley Farm Goat Dairy – A Model of Sustainable Farming

Bottom Line: Dee Harley is milking her way to success by showing her goat farm is good for the economy, environment and the community.

Harley FarmsHarley Farms in Pescadero started 16 years ago with six goats and has since grown into a fully self-sustaining 267+ goat operation and the only dairy farm in San Mateo County. The nine-acre farm is a farmstead dairy, meaning the cheese produced comes directly from the farms animals. It has received six national cheese awards and was the recipient the 2008 Sustainable San Mateo County Award, and the 2008 San Mateo County Farmer of the Year award. It also was featured in a February 2007 New York Times article about agri-tourism (see Eco-Tourism Article), a concept in which small farms open up to curious visiting urbanites.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture farm

Bottom Line: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) provides organic food grown locally for consumption by shareholders and the local community at large.


Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) provides organic food grown locally for the consumption of people near-by. This food is usually purchased by “shareholders” or at local markets. CSA’s provide consumers with herbicide- and pesticide-free food. They generally harvest 1-2 times a week. The food is available for pick-up most places while some CSA’s even deliver. CSA’s promote a close relationship between the farmer and the consumer. They strive to grow crops that preserver the agricultural viability of the land. And by eating locally, consumers reduce the carbon impact of their food consumption.

Promote Urban Gardening With a Victory Garden

Bottom Line: Victory Gardens, which lost popularity after the end of World War II, are making a comeback in San Francisco. Campaigns like Slow Food are energizing the resurgence.

victorygardens1943 was the first time San Franciscan’s planted a Victory Garden in the Civic Center Plaza. It was part of a nation-wide movement to grow food stateside because most food supplies were shipped to the soldiers overseas. Backyard vegetable gardens provided forty one percent of all vegetables consumed in the nation. Fifty-five years later, with help from the arts community, the Civic Center Plaza became the epicenter of a new Victory Garden campaign. Started in 2008, the focus of this new campaign is local food and slow food. Local and slow are really interchangeable terms when it comes to food; the idea is grow nutritious, organic food as close as possible to the consumer.

Rooftop Gardening: Put Down Roots on Roofs

Bottom Line: Growing food on rooftops reduces your carbon footprint, saves money, builds local economies, and adds diversity to the environment.


Keith Agoada started Sky Vegetables in April 2008. At the time, his sustainable-urban-farming business plan had just won a competition at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. The concept takes advantage of the ‘fields’ of flat rooftops found atop supermarkets by using that space to grow crops. Prototype ‘fields’ would not look like conventional farming. Vegetables would be grown in greenhouses in a high density arrangement. Water needs would be supplemented by rain stored in tanks. Wind turbines and solar panels would supplement energy demands. Composting bins would provide rich soil. Right now, Mr. Agoada and his partners are looking to build a prototype on a Bay Area supermarket.

Don’t Kill All the Bugs in Your Garden!

Bottom Line: Pesticides are rarely, if ever, needed in home gardens. Most of the bugs in our garden help it grow! The pests we need to keep in check can be controlled using targeted and alternative methods.

snailLawn Pesticides are rarely, if ever, needed for home lawns. Chemicals in them are linked to adverse long-term health effects. In particular weed and feed type products, which mix fertilizers with pesticides, result in unnecessary pesticide use.

Less than 2% of the insects you encounter in the garden will be pests. The vast majority of insects in your yard are not harmful – they’re either beneficial or neutral. In the interest in keeping them alive, take a targeted, selective approach to dealing with the insects that are pests. Spiders, bees, ladybugs, and dragonflies are good examples of bugs that we want in our garden, along with many others, they help your garden grow!

Less-toxic Pest Control Products are Available

Bottom Line: There are safe, low-toxin, alternative pest control methods and products available. Look for Our Water Our World retail partners throughout San Mateo County.


As part of a program called “Our Water Our World”, the San Mateo County Wide Water Pollution Prevention Program has partnered with retail stores to make less toxic pest control and gardening products more available to consumers, with the goal of reducing the amount of pesticides entering creeks and the Bay through sewers and storm drain systems. Participating stores (listed below) provide fact sheets and “shelf talkers” to make it easy for you to choose a less or non-toxic product.

Control Your Household & Garden Pests!

Bottom Line: Both indoor and outdoor pests can be controlled using Integrated Pest Management strategies, which emphasize less-toxic solutions that cause the least environmental damage.


Chemicals in pesticides designed for home use have been linked to adverse long-term health effects. Less than 2% of the insects you encounter in the garden will be pests! A great majority of insects in your yard are either beneficial or neutral. In the interest in keeping them alive, take a targeted, selective approach to dealing with the insects that are pests. When managing pests in your home, use as little pesticide as possible, buy less toxic products, and when possible manage them without chemicals.

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