July 31, 2012
CoCo San Sustainable Farm
Founder, Executive Director
Carolyn Phinney, Ph.D.
62 Scenic Drive, Orinda, CA 94563-3412
Cell: (925) 788-7374
Fax: (925) 253-9500
Horticulturist, Farm Operations Manager
Bethallyn Black, M.A.
1205 Lindell Drive
Walnut Creek, CA
On Facebook: CoCo San Sustainable Farm
We would like to collaborate with Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) to support
CCCSD's mission and values by creating an urban sustainable farm on up to 33 acres of land
known as the Keiwit Property. We will provide fresh produce to schools and the CoCo Food
bank. We will use recycled water which is currently discharged into Suisun Bay. Recycled
water is very high in nitrogen, so fertilizer costs are also greatly reduced. Eventually, we may
be able to receive carbon credits for CCCSD. We would certainly be sequestering carbon and
reducing the carbon footprint of farm-to-table by distributing locally.
This proposed project will be educational and will involve a public information campaign and
training of the public. The public will have many opportunities to participate and learn about
the applied science of recycled water and what they can do to keep our water and
environment clean by decreasing the discharge of toxic chemicals. People will be taught
organic and quasi-organic backyard gardening practices; bio-intensive gardening methods,
integrated pest management and other methods of protecting our environment. We believe
we can not only teach people, but also motivate people to change their behavior, because of
their emotional investment in the farm and in feeding school children and those in need.
We propose to have 1-2 acres of a public garden section of this farm, where various groups
can have their own plot of land to grow and learn from our experts. Some of this public
garden will be built to be accessible, with tall garden boxes that can be more easily gardened
by those with physical limitations. We propose to have demonstration gardens, showing
various contrasting methods and techniques.
Our goal is to put a free salad bar in every school in the CCCSD district. We also will provide
fresh, locally grown, produce to the CoCo Food Bank, who has a massive distribution system
already in place for those in need. Hence, utilizing another existing entity will all but eliminate
our food distribution costs. We would like to have a farm stand on the property, bringing
further attention to this project.
Our goal is to work with local schools of all grades, including colleges, to bring our public
information campaign into the classroom and provide a living laboratory where students can
have hands-on experiences that bring home the issues of applied science we will be
demonstrating. We will reach out to the local community to involve and teach the public.
Every sanitary district maintains a land buffer and produces agricultural grade recycled water
much of which is wasted. This proposed project will be a model for sanitary districts all over
the world for working in partnerships with local citizens to increase local food security, while
decreasing the carbon footprint of this food because distribution is local, not trucked hundreds
or thousands of miles. Most sanitary districts have a food bank or equivalent local distribution
source, as well. This will function as a pilot project that will enable CCCSD to create a
carefully documented model for sanitary districts to replicate. CCCSD has already received
awards for its leadership and we believe this innovative project will bring CCCSD more
recognition and influence in its industry.
The major costs of production of food -- land, water, fertilizer, food distribution, environmental
would be greatly reduced. This is project is replicable to increase food security, and educate
and motivate people to change their behavior to protect their water supply and environment.
We believe the proposed project has a strong nexus with CCCSD’s mission, values, and
objectives of promoting pollution prevention, providing recycled water and promoting
community outreach and relations. Because of these and other potential benefits to CCCSD,
we hope that CCCSD will contribute the land and recycled water and other in-kind services
where CCCSD has specific expertise, such as providing assistance with obtaining a land use
permit (the project site is zoned Heavy Industrial, which allows agricultural uses with a county
land use permit). The project site also provides a wonderful opportunity for CCCSD to install
informational kiosks and provide educational materials to the public to further advance its
mission and educate the community on the importance of pollution prevention and the value
of water recycling.
PROBLEMS BEING ADDRESSED
Educating and Changing Behavior to Protect the Environment. One of CCCSD's core
values is to create a more healthy and safe environment. CCCSD has an existing program to
educate the community about toxins entering the water supply. The CCCSD Household
Hazardous Waste Collection Facility has been successful at gathering some of the toxins that
would otherwise have been thrown in the trash or have found their way into the water system.
However, only a small percentage of the community knows about the CCCSD Household
Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, and even fewer people bring their toxic waste to the
center. Most of it still ends up where it should not. Any increased visibility for this program
would benefit CCCSD's primary mission.
Likewise, CCCSD seeks to reduce pesticide use in the home and garden. However, most
members of the community are not educated in organic gardening practices and alternatives
to pesticide use in the home. Increasing community education and interest in reducing
pesticide use is part of the mission of CCCSD.
CCCSD has made efforts to inform the public about the waste water cycle, integrated pest
management, disposal of hazardous waste, and other environmental issues. Reaching the
public, primarily with written materials, is difficult and costly and of undetermined impact.
Those who do read the materials often forget what they have read and/or do not change their
Most of us have come to believe that saving water, reducing pollution, eating healthier foods,
and getting more exercise are critical goals. Like many of the goals that we wish to achieve
(environmental, financial, personal), we do not do all that we could do to reach these. It is a
challenge to change our behavior.
Behavioral change requires a high degree of knowledge and understanding of what we are
trying to achieve; and also the clear intention and the motivation to carry out our plans for
change. When we are engaged in a project that inspires us and we feel is important,
especially one that is a lot of fun and builds community relationships, it focuses our attention
and motivates us to learn and use what we learn to change our behavior.
The proposed project will have a huge emotional impact on people in communities served by
CCCSD, because we are proposing to reduce hunger and change the nutritional poverty of
children and those in need by feeding them fresh, locally grown, produce in schools.
We will receive a great deal of free publicity from the press. Elected leaders also will help us
publicize the farm, because it will help their constituents. We will also use social media such
as Facebook, and will create beautiful mailers to be sent out by email, which will reach those
serviced by CCCSD, at very low cost. Volunteers from innumerable agencies will come to
work on the farm, as will students, and this will reinforce with hands-on-learning and applied
science teaching, the information contained in campaigns that will be disseminated. All of this
which will provide opportunities for the learning needed to precede behavioral change.
Hunger, Food Insecurity and Nutritional Poverty. One of CCCSD's core values is to build
community relationships. The proposed project would greatly increase CCCSD's visibility and
connection to the community.
Millions of children lack access to affordable fruits and vegetables. Diets of most children fail
to meet the USDA’s daily nutrition guidelines. Obesity has become a national epidemic with
approximately one third of children being overweight or obese, in part due to diet. School
lunches have become the topic of much criticism, as these usually consist of low cost, low
nutrition options, because fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive to provide. It is not
only children, but also adults who suffer from poor nutrition, in part due to the cost of fresh
produce. The impact is greatest on the poor, who have the fewest resources to supplement
their diets with healthy, fresh produce.
The Contra Costa Food Bank (hereafter “Food Bank”) services approximately 150,000 people
per year in Contra Costa and Solano Counties. They service schools, homeless shelters,
crisis centers, free kitchens, etc. Approximately 70% of the children in the Mt. Diablo school
district have subsidized lunches, because their families are in financial need. The Food Bank
gets random supplies of produce from farmers who have excess production. However, the
Food Bank does not have a predictable supply of produce. Furthermore, the produce they do
get often is the least perishable, starchy vegetables (carrots, potatoes) and not the green
leafy vegetables that are needed for good nutrition. And the further produce travels, the
greater the loss of nutritional value.
There is little doubt that there is a great need to provide a steady supply of local fresh fruit
and vegetables to more vulnerable members of the community. The cost of water is one of
the major costs in the production of produce. Obviously, the cost of land is another major
cost in production. Lastly, transportation costs drive up the cost of fresh produce. The Food
Bank often pays for shipping for the produce it receives.
There are many children in the school districts within the CCCSD district that come from
homes with food insecurity and receive federal subsidies for food at schools. School lunch
programs can not afford to substitute a salad or fresh fruit, which costs about $1 per student,
for a slice of pizza which only costs about 35 cents. Nutritional poverty in food served thus
exists both at home and school. Providing locally grown fresh produce will increase
School lunches also contribute to obesity in children – because they serve cheap calories
loaded with refined carbohydrates and fatty protein. By growing produce locally and using the
existing distribution system of the Food Bank, we can greatly reduce the cost of fresh produce
and provide this to our children and those who otherwise can not afford this produce.
Typical Environmental Costs of Producing and Distributing Fresh Produce. Some of the
usual environmental costs of producing and distributing food are: 1) utilization of massive
amounts of water with increasing water shortages; 2) discharge of toxic chemicals used for
pest control and fertilizers in typical large, monoculture food production; 3) pollution from
fossil fuels used in transportation from farms to consumers; and 4) pollution and destruction of
soil and plant health from the use of fossil fuel based fertilizers and pesticides. The current
food production and distribution system results in produce being expensive and highly
polluting. This food cycle produces food injustice and insecurity, nutritional poverty, urban
food deserts while increasing environmental damage.
This project addresses these problems by: 1) utilizing agricultural grade recycled water
produced from high quality secondary treated wastewater that is currently being discarded to
Suisun Bay where it flows to the San Francisco Bay and cannot be reused;
2) teaching and demonstrating organic and bio-intensive gardening practices and integrated
pest management and information about the waste water cycle, so that citizens will change
their behavior and reduce the discharge of toxins into their gardens and sewers;
3) teaching organic gardening methods that people can use to grow produce in their own
backyards and teaching people to buy locally produced food, thereby reducing transportation,
pollution. See http://food-hub.org/files/resources/Food%20Miles.pdf
4) growing fresh produce locally using organic methods, water that is being lost into the bay,
and an existing distribution network, thereby vastly reducing the carbon footprint of farm-to-
table for this produce and increasing food security and nutrition for CCCSD's customers and
5) building community relationships that inspire people to get involved, learn, and change
UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION OF THIS PROJECT
This project is unique in that it is a model for the use of under-utilized existing resources to
address at least five critical problems:
1) Discharge of toxic chemicals, petroleum-based fertilizers, prescription drugs, and
problematic household items into the environment and waste water system occurs every day
because people are not educated and/or not motivated to change their behavior. We believe
the school salad bar program will cause great visibility for this farm and psychological
investment. This will cause people to pay attention and learn and will motivate many of them
to change their behavior in their daily lives – a goal otherwise nearly impossible to achieve.
The public will have greater awareness of methods of pollution prevention, including the
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility and proper recycling/disposal of
pharmaceuticals and other toxic products, keeping these out of the ground water. As they
learn about sustainable growing methods (approximately organic without certification) and
reclaimed water, they will learn about what poisons our ground water and will be more
motivated to change their behavior.
2) Students often feel alienated from their classroom learning, because it has no tangible
connection to their lives and their classes don't seem to help them get jobs. This living
classroom will help students learn important areas of science and will provide knowledge and
training related to jobs in horticulture, urban agriculture, hydrology, soil science, meteorology,
environmental science/engineering, and other areas of applied science. This farm is
particularly important given the increasing need to train people to produce urban agriculture to
sustainably feed the burgeoning human population of our planet.
3) The shortage of water on much of the planet and recent drought across the country has
caused a shortage of food production.
The most unique aspect of our project is the collaboration with CCCSD, which is right in the
middle of a densely populated urban area, utilizing an existing land buffer and diverting
otherwise wasted recycled water, which is high in nitrogen. Discharging this water on land
and using it for agriculture not only grows food, but also further cleans and filters the water
and boosts the ground water for the two streams that boundary this farm.
4) The effects of global warming and the cost of the typical food production and distribution
system has caused produce to be expensive creating hunger and nutritional poverty for many
who can not afford fresh produce. This project will eventually provide up to 30 acres of fresh
produce at an astonishingly low cost. This produce will be provided to local schools, where
most students have food subsidies and to the food bank, which serves approximately 150,000
people per year. With nationwide drought, these numbers will only increase. This farm is so
large that it can change food security in the district.
5) There is usually a huge carbon footprint of growing food in rural areas and then
transporting it to feed people in cities. This is a model for growing large quantities of food in
the middle of an urban area, using nitrogen-rich water. Furthermore, planting this farm with
trees and alfalfa and vegetables will help sequester carbon. CCCSD has a goal of protecting
the environment and this project will help the district have a large impact on the local
WE ARE NOT ALONE
We are blessed by being in California where many groups are trying to solve problems related
to urban farming, food justice and sustainable living from whom we can learn. We will draw
upon the wisdom of such community farms a: Alemany Farm in San Francisco, Deep Seeded
Community Farm in Arcata, EarthWorks Community Farm in South El-Monte, Full-Circle
Community Farm in Sunnyvale, Live Power Community Farm in Mendocino County, Pie
Ranch in Pescadero, Shakefort Community Farm in Humboldt County, and The Veggielution
Community Farm in San Jose. (I saved one screen from Veggielution's wonderful slide show
We will work with the Mount Diablo Bee Keepers Association to have bees doing the hard
work of pollinating our farm. We have contacted the Contra Costa County Food Bank and
they will distribute our produce to schools and appropriate social service agencies. We do not
need to create a food distribution system, which vastly reduces the cost of bringing this
produce from farm to table.
We will work with educational institutions including the University of California, Davis
Agricultural Department; Diablo Valley Community College, Contra Costa Community
College, John F. Kennedy University and other local schools to integrate curriculum with
hands-on experience. Our horticulturist and our Advisory Board Members are connected to
The Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County program was run by our horticulturist for over
13 years. Linda Mayo a long-term school board member and Steve Hoeft, a school Father's
Club member and local schools activist will be on our Advisory Board. Innumerable volunteers
from local agencies and groups undoubtedly will come help us farm. Tina Neuhausel,
Director of Sustainable Contra Costa wants to support us and be one of our partners. Chef
and restaurant owner and food activist Cindy Gershen is heavily involved in working with a
local high school to change the food they serve. Cindy is a supporter of this project and will
help us design our salad bar program. State Senator Mark De'Saulnier, Assemblywoman Joan
Buchanan, and Orinda City Councilwoman Amy Worth have offered support and we believe
most local political leaders undoubtedly will be helping us achieve our very worthy goals.
FOCUS AND IMPLEMENTATION IN THE FIRST FEW YEARS
The primary purposes are to provide environmental education to the public, while growing
produce for schools and the food bank using organic methods.
We will establish our community garden area and teaching program at the farm. We will work
with local schools, colleges, and universities integrating course-work with applied learning on
the farm, incorporating environmental training relevant to this project. Early in this project, we
would like work with CCCSD to create educational videos and distribute these to schools and
on social media such as Facebook, as well as showing these videos at the farm. We believe
that public interest in the farm will be great and this will motivate people to learn about
recycled water and to change their behavior to keep waste water cleaner. This should also
raise interest in keeping ground water cleaner, as well. Here's an example of a similar
This should also raise interest in protecting our ground water and environment in general. We
don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are many videos online that can be used while we
work to create videos specific to CCCSD. Here is a video about drinking water and one about
meteorology by NASA that can be promoted by the farm, as we teach organic farming
methods and integrated pest management.
We believe that the CoCo San Sustainable Farm will generate so much interest and
emotional investment, because it will be feeding our children and people in need, that it will
increase motivation to learn about water in general – their waste water, protecting fresh water,
as well as other relevant environmental issues and applied science. Most importantly, this
investment will motivate people to change their behavior or so that they better protect their
environment. And we all know that behavioral change is the gold medal sought by all those
trying to protect the environment.
Establishing relationships with the local community is critical to our success. We will closely
collaborate with existing institutions that serve those in need, including schools, food bank,
crisis centers, homeless shelters, and other service institutions. Our crops will go to the
Contra Costa Food Bank and be distributed by them to schools and other agencies that serve
those in need. We will work with local schools and Dr. Phinney has already talked to
California's Supervisor of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson's Chief of Staff Craig Cheslog. Mr.
Cheslog has offered to link with the food service personnel in local schools to develop the
salad bar program and will help us in other ways.
We will build connections with local non-profits and businesses, who may provide volunteers
and/or financial or other support. To obtain volunteers, we will work with local service
organizations such as girl scouts and boy scouts, Rotary Club, and school clubs, as well as
environmental groups like Sustainable Contra Costa and agricultural groups like the Martinez
Grange, Future Farmers of America, 4H, the Resource Conservation District and the
University of California Master Gardeners. We need to build the farm's place in our
MEASURABLE AND TIME-SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
In the first few years on the farm, we will: 1) build our soil character; 2) build our physical
infrastructure; 3) plant our first crops; 4) develop our teaching programs; and 5) build
In temporal order, our first objective to get the farm up and running must be address the soil
character and bringing fertility and correct PH back to the currently degraded soil. The Kiewit
Property is currently being used for a “clean fill” project. Fill is being imported from all over
the county and beyond and hence is widely varying. Fortunately, our horticulturist teaches
soils science and will help us cope with the patchwork of soils types we will encounter.
As you can see from the photo above, only a small fraction of that fill is topsoil. Most of the
topsoil has been segregated and piled up to one side and is being trucked away leaving the
ground as hard pack after the tractor mixes and compresses it.
Although the Mitigated Negative Declaration for this project suggests that future planned uses
of this land included grazing, the fill has such poor microbial and soil structure that only the
most invasive weeds can take root (see foreground). It appears that this removal of topsoil
did not occur in early phases of the project, as you can see in the photo below that grasses
are flourishing on about 5 acres of property closest to Walnut Creek (see land behind topsoil
pile). Hereafter we will refer to this part of the parcel as the “1st 5” because clean fill of this
land is completed and the soil is supporting some life.
In the center of this photo, you see the topsoil that is segregated and being trucked away.
Because there is little to no topsoil being left behind, we will need to start by bringing in large
quantities of compost, breaking up the hardpack and mixing in organic material. We will focus
most on the 1st 5 acres mixing in approximately 14 tons of compost per acre. Compost is
expensive, so the rest of the farm will be amended with locally sourced horse manure and
other cost effective organic resources. After amending, we propose to plant a green manure
crop of alfalfa to further enrich the soil in late fall on all of the land that is available for planting
(25-30 acres). Some of the 33 acres are wetlands or have sewer or water pipes to be
avoided along the south and west perimeter areas of the parcel. We will turn under the alfalfa
on the 1st 5 in early spring. The remaining alfalfa will be harvested every six months, until we
are ready to take more into vegetable production. The first year the 1st 5 will be divided with
about 4 acres for planting and ½ acre for community plots and teaching gardens (growing up
to 2 acres with demand), and ½ acre for parking lot and buildings.
The second objective is to build physical infrastructure. Recycled water is already available at
the site, however a distribution system must be installed. We will install the main pipes of the
irrigation system along the mouth of an existing ditch that runs just inside the fence along the
longest dimension of the farm (along Hwy 4). We will be guided by irrigation experts
knowledgeable in recycled water use (with oversight from CCCSD’s recycled water staff), so
that we correctly label and mark the irrigation equipment and outlets to designate them as
recycled water. We will put gravel on the existing flat area to create a parking lot. Then, we
will construct the buildings to house our equipment, for our office and a cold storage shed and
if permitted a composting toilet and solar panels or wind turbine for energy. To the extent
possible, we will use sustainable solutions to demonstrate these to the public. We will plant
fast-growing shade trees and set up an outdoor teaching area with picnic tables and covered
with vine covered trellises. We will add to existing fencing (5' 8” high) to bring it over a 6'
height. Fencing the area will prevent vandalism and predation of equipment and will ensure
food safety standards are met.
Our third objective is to grow produce. As soon as the recycled water distribution system is
ready, we will plant an orchard on one end of the property and cacti around the perimeter of
the fence as a crop and to further dissuade visitors and animals. (We must be careful where
we plant trees because we are across from the landing strip of an airport. Of the1st 5,
approximately three acres will be planted with our first vegetable crops and one acre will be
planted with fruit trees. We intend to hire a farmer with a tractor to plant our first crops, as
drastic nationwide shortages due to the high temperatures and drought dictate that we don't
delay until we can raise funds for large equipment. We will work with local beekeepers, to
provide hives on one corner of the property (e.g., near Walnut Creek stream) for bees to be
our pollinators. Volunteers and students will help us with planting, weeding and harvesting.
Our fourth objective teaching to change behavior will be met in several ways. Horticulturist
and Master Gardener Bethallyn Black and retired scientist and teacher Carolyn Phinney will
create our on-site educational materials with extensive input from CCCSD staff and board
members. Bethallyn Black and members of the Advisory Board will work with the community
colleges to integrate agricultural and science courses and hands on experience on the farm
for course credit. We will use the community and teaching gardens for instructing participants
in bio-intensive gardening practices, irrigation, soils management, hedgerow benefits, organic
practices, integrated pest management, etc. These community plots and demonstration plots
will become our outdoor laboratory and classroom. We will also develop a public information
campaign, which will be disseminated by email and through Facebook, YouTube and other
social media that provide free distribution. Carolyn Phinney is highly experienced with social
media and other campaigns and will take the lead developing and disseminating these
Fall 2012: We understand that a land use permit will be needed from the County, and the
proposed schedule is contingent upon obtaining necessary approvals and permits prior to
beginning site work. We hope that CCCSD staff can provide assistance in obtaining permits
and completing any environmental documentation (i.e., CEQA) that may be required. Our
schedule will be coordinated so as not to impact CCCSD’s fill operation, which is expected to
be completed by the end of the year. The site manager of the fill operation has told us that if
we started work on the side of the property that they have already completed, we would not
be in the way of their delivery trucks. This includes the area we have dubbed the 1 st 5 (See
Figure 1 below). We would work with CCCSD to coordinate our activities with this project..
Figure 1: Drawing of the Kiewit Property with CoCo San Sustaingable Farm's Proposed Use
We must first obtain 501C-3 status, either through the Earth Island Institute or through our
own application. Then, we will begin to raise money from the public and through crowd-
funding sites like www.Kickstarter.com. We will be applying for private, and state, and federal
We will be putting in the irrigation system for flood irrigation, which is the simplest to do. We
plan to begin building infrastructure, creating the necessary facilities for safe and sanitary use
of the property, including toileting and hand-washing with potable water (trucked in to site)
and a small building for office and equipment. Infrastructure will include the higher fencing
necessary to protect the farm and crops, so that we do not create an attractive nuisance and
to obtain state certification for sale of our crops. We hope to engage a farmer to amend the
field and plant the first crop of alfalfa by late fall.
Winter 2012-2013: It is our understanding that the clean fill project will be completed by early
2013. After the fill project is completed, we plan to put in the parking lot and install more
fences and other basic infrastructure. We must obtain certification for the farm to sell or give
away the produce. This will require us to set up a site for washing the vegetables with potable
water and a cool storage building.
We will create educational materials and an email flyer and develop our website and begin
the social media campaign and other community education campaigns about recycled water
and the entire project. We will begin on-site community education, because we believe the
public will be interested in even this early phase of the project. This phase will focus on soils
science and hydrology and the beginning phases of organic farming.
Early Spring 2013: We will till under the 1st 5 acres of alfalfa and will pay or barter with a
farmer to plant the rest of the farm with alfalfa. After the 1st 5's alfafa crop is tilled under, we
will set aside land for the community garden and build some tall boxes for the accessible
gardening. We will assign garden plots to the community and expand the land available to
the community according to demand.
Spring 2013: We will plant the 1st vegetable crop and fruit trees and continue on-site
education. After the fields are planted, we will focus on publicity and educational campaigns.
Summer and Early Fall 2013: We will harvest the 1st vegetable crop and continue community
education. We also hope to build a high tunnel green house for protected crops. We will
engage in on-site composting.
Late Fall – Winter 2013: This period will focus on replenishing the soil with compost and
rotating with winter crops. The winter crops will provide salad bar materials for the schools
and winter vegetables for the Food Bank. This site should allow year-round food production
given the mild climate moderated by Suisun Bay, which is only a few miles to the North.
BUDGET ESTIMATE FOR FIRST 15 MONTHS
The CoCo San Sustainable Farm will cost about $200,000 in the first 15 months, unless we
obtain funding for large equipment, which will cost much more. We have created a detailed
budget containing cost estimates. This estimate does not include any costs that CCCSD
might assess. Please see the attached spreadsheet (Exhibit 1).
As noted in Exhibit 1, we have paid particular attention to budgeting for items that would be
important to maintaining the site in an aesthetic and sanitary condition, and not create an
attractive nuisance. In particular, we have included budget for portable toilets, hand washing
and drinking water facilities, fencing around key areas of the site, and storage buildings to
secure tools and other items. We propose to construct a gravel off-street parking area. All
publications would include directions for vehicular traffic to enter and exit the site via Solano
Way to avoid traffic impacts to the Blum Road area. We have also included budget for
various types of insurance that we anticipate CCCSD would want us to obtain. Our objective
is to maintain the project site in a way that enhances CCCSD’s public image, and if there are
any issues that CCCSD would like addressed, please let us know. If at any time in the future,
we should decide to stop farming this land, the land will be left in a clean and attractive state,
equivalent to or more beautiful than the state when we start the proposed project. We
understand that CCCSD would require that we enter into some type of a formal agreement
with the District to be sure that CCCSD’s interests would be protected. This agreement may
be executed with the Earth Island Institute, which would be the umbrella non-profit entity
representing us on legal and fiscal matters, but this must be determined.
FUND-RAISING SHORT AND LONG-TERM
Anything that we can get for free or close to free, we will get, such as manure and materials
donations. We will use crowd-funding (such as www.kickstarter.com) to get immediate cash
flow. We will also get donations from individuals locally. We will contact local businesses who
may want to donate materials to have their names on our publications or we will sell them
advertising space. We are checking with the county as to whether renting sign space on the
fences facing the freeway is permitted. At the airport, North American Van Lines has parked
large vans facing the freeway with huge signs on side of the trucks. We would like to do the
same, advertising the farm and its sponsors.
We would love to have Pixar/Disney provide some funding for the farm with us placing large
Pixar figures along the fences and perhaps on our salad bars, to get the attention of children
and their parents (and the rest of us who love Pixar!) We will try to find major local sponsors
for the farm such as Kaiser or Lowes or Home Depot which are nearby or even large
companies that support healthy foods as part of their company policy such as Disney/Pixar.
Dr. Phinney and Ms. Black are experienced grant-writers, having written successful federal
grant applications as well as applications to private foundations. Dr. Phinney will spend much
of her time writing grant proposals and Ms. Black will help when she has time.
Income will also come from the food bank which has said that they often pay something for
the food they receive (usually shipping costs which in our case are close to zero). We may
obtain some payments from them. We also will have a farm stand and hope to sell produce
there. Local businesses such as Kaiser and John Muir may buy some of our produce.
Until the project is funded, we will start with whatever money and materials we can get
donated locally, until significant revenue is generated. We may find a farmer who will barter
with us to turn our soil and plant our alfalfa crop. We believe we will receive significant
community support from individuals and local businesses, because this project is so important
The CoCo San Sustainable Farm would be run as a non-profit. We believe that a sound
financial and legal foundation is a critical component to the long-term success of this project.
We hope to be taken under the umbrella of The Earth Island Institute, a 501-3C in Berkeley
(http://www.earthisland.org/index.php/aboutUs/), which was founded by the first director of the
Sierra Club, David Brower. The Earth Island Institute describes itself as “an incubator for
start-up environmental projects, giving crucial assistance to groups and individuals with new
ideas for promoting ecological sustainability.”
In brief, the Earth Island Institute takes 9% of our donations and profits to provide the
1. Institutional Home with 501-3C status to receive money;
2. Filing the necessary IRS application;
3. Financial services that are quite extensive and complex, including:
A. receiving and processing donations;
B. handling distribution of funds (paying vendors, payroll, receipts due, cash advance,
low limit credit card maybe and eventually after established, etc.);
C. Monthly financial statements;
E. Tax Filing;
4. Indirect help with fund-raising by using their name and hence credibility and institutional
5. Direct help fund-raising by training, coaching, telling partners, writing letters of support;
6. Filing Registrations of all sorts;
7. Business and legal advice and audits.
8. Publicity in their own magazine and online.
While we are pursuing this avenue, it has come to our attention that some of the local funders
like the Lesher Foundation (http://www.lesherfdn.com), which is a major funder of Contra
Costa County projects such as ours, will not fund projects that have a fiscal sponsor, because
fiscal sponsors take too large percentage of the funds raise (EII takes 9%). Hence, we are
also exploring the possibility of obtaining 501c-3 status just for the farm and hiring an
accountant. The Earth Island Institute only requires a one year commitment and Lesher does
not fund start-ups, so we may start out under a fiscal sponsor and decide in 6 months whether
to obtain independent 501c-3 status.
LEADERSHIP OF THIS PROJECT
Carolyn Phinney, Ph.D. is a retired behavioral scientist, teacher and researcher. She
received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in Psychology. Dr. Phinney
taught and conducted research at UC, Berkeley, Harvard University Extension and the
University of Michigan. Dr. Phinney has much experience writing grants and will be the
primary person responsible for fund-raising. Teaching at the University of California Berkeley,
she won an award for her teaching during graduate school. Dr. Phinney will take a lead role in
designing the educational materials and the publications. She has been a community
organizer and political activist for 20 years and won the volunteer of the year award from the
Ann Arbor, MI public schools. Dr. Phinney was an elected member of the Democratic Party in
Ann Arbor, MI in the 1990s and is serving her second term on the Democratic Party County
Central Committee (DPCCC) in Contra Costa County. She has been a field organizer for
many years, which experience will help obtain and retain volunteers. Dr. Phinney lives in
Orinda. This project is Dr. Phinney's vision and implementation to this point and she will be
the Executive Director.
Bethallyn Black, M.A. has been engaged in urban farming her entire life in Walnut Creek,
starting with her parents as a child. Ms. Black holds an advanced degree in horticulture and
has led the Master Gardener for Contra Costa County for 13 years. She has taught at
Kennedy University, Diablo Valley College, and Marin College. Ms. Black is a Research
Associate at the University of California, Davis in the Agriculture Department. One of her
classes is in soils science. Ms. Black's accomplishments are many including helping to
establish the Integrated Pest Management Program at CCCSD in 2002. Ms. Black and Dr.
Phinney will collaborate on designing the teaching program on the farm and on the written
materials and grants. Ms Black recently joined the project and will be the Horticulturist and
Operations Manager on the farm.
Advisory Committee Chair, Steve Hoagland is an elected board member of Ambrose Park and
Recreation and a Boy Scout regional leader. Mr. Hoagland was involved in the development
of the community garden at Ambrose Park and Recreation. He has diverse connections in
the surrounding communities and can help us form linkages with other agencies. Mr.
Hoagland has had many years of leadership roles in Boy Scouts and will help us work with
and teach young people. And he's a delightful human being, which is why he works so well
with young people!
Cindy Gershen chef and owner of Sunrise Bistro in Walnut Creek and school food activist.
Ms. Gershen has won awards for her work on the Healthy Lunch Program for teachers and
staff at Mt. Diablo High School. Ms. Gershen provides a free breakfast and lunch for many
months and pre and post medical tests show fabulous results. She is currently developing a
school garden at the Mt. Diablo High School and will bring many experiences related to
teaching young people about food, particularly food preparation. Ms. Gershen will consult on
the integration of our vegetables into the local school lunch programs and her work with the
schools will bring needed expertise on systems, as well.
Michael Kerr is an Organic Farmer and is the primary person who set up the Ambrose Park
and Recreation Community Garden. He will help us design the community garden and the
accessible growing boxes. He is an important hands-on teaching resource.
De'shawn Woolridge, B.A. is a candidate for Contra Costa Community College Board. As a
candidate newly gradated from college, Mr. Woolridge is sensitive to the needs of students to
find linkages between college learning and jobs. He will help us from the administrative side
to develop programs that give students experiences in applied science.
Linda Mayo has served several terms on the Mt. Diablo School Board and is our expert and
liaison to the schools where our produce will be delivered. Ms. Mayo will help us reach
teachers and food preparers and others who are relevant in the school district.
Steve Hoeft, M.A. has a degree in chemistry and works with a local funding agency. His
knowledge of funding issues will be very helpful. He is a leader in the Mt. Diablo School
District's Father's Club and will help us figure out how best to reach out to parents.
Tina Neuhausel, Director of Sustainable Contra Costa, has spent many years working on
issues of sustainability. She brings broad expertise and contacts with the community. Ms.
Neuhausel is also an expert in public information campaigns.
We know others will come forward to serve on this board, and we hope that members of
CCCSD’s Board of Directors and staff will serve or provide assistance.
Great economic, racial, gender, age, ethnic and geographic diversity exists within the CCCSD
district. We will seek to make our core team diverse and reach out to different populations
using different methods to reach those we teach, those who volunteer, and others we serve.
One of primary goals is to educate all members of our community about environmental issues
relevant to what happens to our waste water when it goes down the drain and also those
issues relevant to the food system. We must have a diverse team to find optimal ways to
reach different groups. For instance, Ms. Black has conducted research that shows one of
the best ways to reach populations of non-English speakers is at their English as a Second
Language Classes. She has worked to teach farm and garden workers not to wash their
clothes with the clothes of their children, because of the toxins on their clothes. Furthermore,
nutritional poverty and food scarcity crosses all categories. The leaders of this project are in
agreement and passionate about the belief that involving in leadership roles, teaching, and
serving a diverse population is a critical part of our mission.
Thank you very much for considering the CoCo San Sustainable Farm proposal!
Carolyn Phinney, Ph.D