Discover the Secret Life of Bees! Aug. 22 9am KENWOOD

In honor of:

National Honeybee Awareness Day,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Discover the Secret Life of Bees!

Through lecture and Q&A, local beekeeper, Randy Sue Collins, will take you inside the beehive to meet and greet our fuzzy friends so that you may better understand these amazing animals and why the planet depends on them for survival.

After the talk, there will be a short, walking tour uncovering several hidden beehives in the neighborhood, some wild, some not.

Wear comfortable shoes!

$20 per person


Kenwood Farmhouse

9255 Hwy 12, Kenwood, CA

Pre-registration preferred

Register at Swede’s Feeds (707) 833-5050 or the Kenwood Farmhouse (707) 833-1212

Sonoma Garden Park Spring Update

1.  “What’s New in the Garden?

“Compost row is back!

Thanks to Gary Edwards and his lovely tractor we can stroll down compost row (next to tool shed), without getting lost in the weeds!

Coming soon will be signage that points you in the right direction when you wish to add to the compost. Greens Here is where all your fresh, living, green weeds and kitchen scraps should go. Browns Here is just the opposite: dead, dying, brown garden debris. Thanks for helping us organize the garden and don’t forgot to check it out for yourself.

EXTENDED  VOLUNTEER HOURS: Wednesdays and  Fridays 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. /  Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Bring a water bottle and wear sturdy shoes.  No experience necessary!

Fourth Graders visit the Sonoma Garden Park!

As part of “Growing Discovery”,  SEC staff and volunteers from Sonoma County Master Gardeners will be teaching hands- on gardening and ecology lessons to several Sonoma Valley Fourth Grade classes as they visit Sonoma Garden Park during the month of April.  Students will be making compost, digging garden beds, planting and transplanting vegetables and learning about birds, butterflies and bees!  This program is made possible through the generous support of the following foundations: Kimball Foundation, Bothin Foundation, Community Foundation Sonoma County, Van Loben Sels/Rembe Rock, and Dean Witter Foundation.

Butterfly and Mediterranean Gardens Renewal Planned:

Through a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, the Sonoma Ecology Center staff and volunteers are renewing these “Demonstration Gardens” at Sonoma Garden Park.  We have recruited the help of several local landscape designers, including Patricia Cullinan who is volunteering to design the SGP’s Mediterranean and Drought Tolerant Gardens, slated to be installed by late fall 2008.

Ms. Cullinan is on the Board of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation and designed a garden for a 1910 Queen Anne cottage that the SLHP is restoring for a Heritage Center.  She is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) and a co-Branch head of  the Mediterranean Garden Society and at the 2007 Annual General Meeting, in Athens, Greece, made a presentation on ‘Historical water use in Northern California as it pertains to Dry Farming and Residential Landscaping’.  We are thrilled to be working with her as she brings much experience and expertise to the project!  Here is what she has to say about the project:

“As the world is ever more conscience of water, and because of the climate I live in, the use of Mediterranean type plants and Mediterranean style gardening will be ever more important in the future. I see the Community Garden on 7th Street in Sonoma as the tool to inform gardeners about Mediterranean style gardening and the use of many California native plants.”

The renewal of the Butterfly Garden is underway, and slated to be installed by late summer 2008.  Mundo Murgia, on staff at the Sonoma Ecology Center is working on the design.  Stay tuned for updates!


Sam Honey, the farmer neighbor to the garden, is working on an exciting project!  He has acquired a solar powered portable electric fence and is soon to walk over his sheep, which are a rare and interesting breed called St. Croix, to the garden to work on eating down some of our tall weeds.  This will be a great help!  Stay tuned for photos!

Greenhouse and Nursery Filling Up!

We are growing lots of baby veggies and flowers in our nursery.  Stop by and take a look, during volunteer hours. AppleMark

Photo: Nursery at SGP, March ‘08

2. Sonoma Garden Park Wish List:

Do you have any of the following items to donate? If so, contact Tiona at 996-0712 X 120 or reply to this email.

Arched metal or wood trellises, liquid kelp, liquid fish emulsion, powdered kelp, powdered rock dust, oyster shell or dolomite,  5 gallon buckets with handles, sturdy wheel barrows, wire for trellising raspberries and grapes, rice straw bales, sturdy folding tables and or picnic tables, portable shade structures and umbrellas, sturdy garden forks, shovels, spades, and pruners, half wine barrels in good condition, garden hoses in good condition, spray nozzles or wands, sturdy bird baths, bird feeders, greenhouse kit (estimated size:  8′ X 17″).  All donations are tax deductible.

3. Workshops and Events at the SGP:


Saturday, April 19th 10 a.m. – Noon Local beekeepers, Bill Wiebalk and Will Ackley, will present a beekeeping seminar and honey tasting at the Sonoma Garden Park, 19990 Seventh St. East, just north of Denmark St., in Sonoma.  This seminar is presented by the Sonoma Ecology Center and will focus on the benefits of keeping bees in a garden without the use of pesticides and how to harvest surplus honey.  Wiebalk and Ackley will give an overview of how a bee colony operates, the importance of bee pollination to agriculture, the equipment needed to keep bees, and the duties of the beekeeper.  They will discuss the environmental impact of the death of bee colonies throughout the U.S., called Colony Collapse Disorder.  A honey tasting to appreciate the taste and quality of honey produced without pesticides will conclude the seminar.

After the honey tasting, the beekeepers will perform a brief inspection of the Sonoma Garden Park hives.  If you would like to observe the hive inspection, please bring long pants, socks, shoes, and a light-colored long sleeve shirt.  We will provide you with a veil and gloves.

The fee for the seminar is $20 (sliding scale) and space is limited.  Reservations are required.  To make reservation contact Tiona Gundy at (707) 996-0712, ext. 120 or

HARVEST MARKET OPENS! Saturday, May 3rd, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Soon we will have produce and plants for sale, right here at the garden!  If you wish to buy tomato starts early, please contact Tiona at 996-9744 or email:

4.  Community Gardeners’ News:

This year we are starting out with several new community gardeners.  Over 20 plots are being leased!  The Sonoma Valley Mothers’ Club is taking on a larger plot which they plan to fence and develop as a FUN and MAGICAL place for small children to get their hands in the “dirt”!  To help with small fence building and garden set up, please contact: Sarah Cerles at 996-1348


photo: Kevin McGuire, one of the new community gardeners at SGP, gets his plot ready for spring planting.

5. Community Events and Plant Sales:

Earth Day Fair at Whole Foods in Sonoma

Saturday, April 19th, 12:00–4:00 p.m    Free

An Earth Day Fair in celebration of Mother Earth. Sample delicious items from local and Green vendors. Enter raffles to win prizes. Visit educational tables from local organizations including Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma Birding, and Sonoma County Bicycling Coalition to learn about composting, alternative transportation and more! Kids join Andrew Hippert, Whole Foods Market Team Member, to make art from recyclables and compostables.

Volunteers Needed for GREEN TEAM at Sonoma Valley Film Festival (April 9 – April 13)

The Green Team will be promoting green practices at each venue  throughout the festival.   If you know anyone who would like to participate, please have them call Pam Personette at (707) 935-9500.

Harvest For The Hungry Garden Huge Plant Sale!

Saturday, April 26th, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.  at 1717 Yulupa Ave. @ Hoen, Santa Rosa, (1 block from Whole  Foods)

Organically grown heirloom vegetables, flowers, native and habitat plants, medicinal and culinary  herbs, and more!

A benefit for Harvest for the Hungry Garden.  For more info:  566-7937

Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Plant Sale!

Saturday and  Sunday, April 12 & 13, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 15290  Coleman Valley Rd, Occidental, CA.

For more information: / (707)874-1557

See you in the Garden!

Tiona Gundy
Sonoma Garden Park Coordinator
Sonoma Ecology Center
996-0712 X 120

Sonoma Garden Park – Harvest Market and More


Ali & Gabby, young beekeepers, offer Sonoma Garden Park honey for tasting!

As the seasons are turning, we hope you will come visit the Garden Park, either to shop at the Harvest Market, to volunteer, or to just enjoy the sights and smells! The Garden Park is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 10am – 5pm.
Volunteer Hours: Wed. 9am – 1pm, Friday 4pm – 6pm, Sat. 9am – 2pm

Only two Harvest Markets left this season!!!
This Sat. Oct. 6th and Sat. Oct. 20th, from 10am – 1pm

Please note:

Also see below for details of a very special workshop at the Garden Park on “Making Medicine”

“Harvesting Our Future”
Slow Food Feast in the
Sonoma Garden Park
12:00 Noon
Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC) invites you to join us for a luncheon and afternoon event celebrating the harvest at our community supported and organically tended Sonoma Garden Park. Renowned Valley chefs will be cooking seasonal fare with locally grown produce. This wonderful autumn event is designed to introduce awareness and promote the practices of the Slow Food movement.  Slow Food leaders will discuss how to bring back the enjoyment and celebration of food and conversation into your home and family meals, while supporting and maintaining the ecological richness and health of Sonoma Valley.  SEC staff and volunteer docents will lead walks spotlighting educational features, and future plans for the Garden Park.  There will be a silent auction featuring Eco-friendly themed adventures and experiences.

Don’t miss this very special day celebrating the Sonoma Ecology Center, the fall harvest from the Sonoma Garden Park, and the richness of our community and its unique natural environment!

For tickets, contact Judy Aquiline ~ 707/996-9744 ext 10 or
Tickets are $40 for Sonoma Ecology Center Members: $50 for non-members.  Space for this event is limited, so please make your ticket reservations early!

Upcoming workshop:


Saturday , October 20 2 – 5 pm

Restore your relationship to the medicine plants of this earth at the Sonoma Garden Park with Jennifer Jensen, L.Ac., Herbalist
Medicinal herbs were at one time in the heart of every community. The common people had knowledge of the plants around them and employed them as medicines and in cooking. In many cultures remnants of this way of life are still seen. For example, in sushi restaurants today, a shiso leaf may be served with fish which enhances the appetite and antidotes seafood poisoning. Ginger is also served to stimulate the appetite and warm the stomach, countering the effects of an otherwise “cold” food. Historically, common plants were given important tasks. Calendula flowers were thrown into soups to stave off the winter chill. In summer, borage was used too cool down long before the days of iced drinks. Cabbage leaves were compressed over breasts to cure mastitis or bring in the mother’s milk. Parsley tea cured fatigue.

This class offers a chance for every person to reconnect with medicinal plants, learn how to make medicine, and treat many common ailments with just a handful of remedies. It will cover the 20 plus herbs found in the medicine garden of the park, give synergistic combinations, and teach the application of plant energetics to body energetics. There will be time for one on one, person-to-plant meditation or dialogue.

Jennifer Jensen, L.Ac. has been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine since 1999. Her love for nature has led her on a life long investigation of plant medicines from around the world, with a special interest in those that grow in our own backyards. Fee $20 – 30 sliding scale, proceeds donated to the park.
Please pre-register with Jennifer by Oct 13 at

See you in the Garden!
Tiona Gundy
Sonoma Garden Park Coordinator
Sonoma Ecology Center
996-0712 X 120


5-11-07, update from the Sonoma Garden Park

The Sonoma Garden Park, a gift from Pauline Bond, is located at 19990 Seventh St. East in Sonoma, just north of Denmark St. The Garden Park is open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am – 5pm. Take a stroll, bring a picnic or join in the volunteer activities!

Here’s what’s happening….

SATURDAYS from 10am – 1pm in the Straw Bale Barn.

Need veggie starts for your own garden? Time to put in a few special landscape plants? Stop by this Saturday.
“Free Basil 6 pack if you… Bring your Mother or Grandmother.”
We have, basil, tomoatoes, onions, thyme, oregano, raspberries, chives, native plants, foxglove, coreopsis, and much, much more!

GARDENERS NEEDED. Do you love to garden? Would you like to help grow food organically for yourself and the community? Join us on Volunteer Days at the Sonoma Garden Park:

Wednesday 10am – 1pm
Friday 5pm- 7pm
Saturday 9am – 2pm

Call Tiona at 337-2235 for more information!

IT’S APPLE THINNING TIME! Learn about thinning apples. Volunteer at the Garden Park.

VOM Teens recently planted their “Pizza Garden” in the center of the Crop Circle. Mmmm… Looking forward to a summer pizza fiesta!

Special thanks going out to the Sonoma Valley Rotary Club for their hard work weeding and mulching! Also, thank you Barbara Heiman, Paul Wirtz and Paul Martinez for the many veggie starts!

Much thanks to Angela Casazza for teaching a wonderful Mosaic Stepping Stone class!

Interested in Beekeeping?
Sunday, June 3rd, 2007
9am-4pm, $60
Local organic lunch by Sol Food Farm included.
291 Hutchins Ave, Sebastopol (parking at Subud Hall)

Alarming declines in honeybee populations threaten our food security, native flora and fauna, honey supply, and beautiful flowers. Please join us to learn about protecting healthy honeybee populations.

Expert instructor and passionate beekeeper Serge Labesque will cover topics including the bee colony, overview of gear and equipment, starting and developing strong bee colonies, management of the hive and brood chamber, pests and diseases, swarm prevention and control, hive division and creation of nucs, supering and management of honey supers, harvesting, and outlook on winter preparation.

Call now to reserve your spot! Space is limited. 707-571-8868

Exciting Day the Sonoma Garden Park with the Bees PHOTOS

Received via email from

Tiona Gundy
Sonoma Garden Park Coordinator
Sonoma Ecology Center

Hello everyone:

It was a special time for everyone working at the Sonoma Garden Park  last Saturday, March 3.  Our feral bee colony living in a bird box  swarmed right before our eyes!  In the time span of about five minutes,  the sky was filled with tens of thousands of bees.  About fives minutes  later, the bees chose to land in the plum tree in front of our bee  yard, about three feet above ground.  This location was fortunate to  us, as Roger and Denise Fortain and I easily captured this swarm and  hived it directly into one of our empty bee boxes (see attached  photos).  As we set up our bee box, the swarm cluster continued to  grow.  Normally, a large swarm would be about the size of a football.   This was the largest landed swarm that I have ever seen.  It’s hard to  imagine that they all lived inside this bird box.

Swarming is a natural occurrence with honeybees.  This is the means of  expansion of their species.  As they outgrow their space, about 70-80%  of the bees will leave to find a new home.   The queen bee also leaves  with the swarm.  Before swarming, the bees will raise a new replacement  queen, which will hatch shortly after the colony swarms.

My plans last Saturday were to assess the condition and size of our  feral colony and at the next nice weekend afternoon, open the bird box  to hive the bees and comb into one of our boxes.  Now my plans have  changed.  We will wait about three weeks for the new queen and the bees  remaining in the bird box to expand their colony, and then we will open  the bird box to hive the remaining bees.

We want to move the remaining bees into a bee box so we may inspect  them to monitor their health and colony size.  As the colony continues  to grow, we can give them more space.  If we were to leave the colony  alone in the bird box, they would eventually swarm again.

About Swarms
Beekeepers do not look at the calendar to tell them when spring begins.   They know the start of spring when they either witness or hear about  the first swarm of the New Year.  Spring is the time when bees will  naturally expand their colonies by swarming.  There are techniques that  beekeepers use to prevent swarming with their own hives.

Before bees swarm, they gorge themselves on honey in preparation for  going without food for some time until they find a new home, build  honeycomb, and build up new foodstores.  As soon as swarm, they are  full of honey and a bit demoralized, as they have no home.  Therefore,  they are usually relatively gentle, and will cooperate when we hive  them.

If you see a swarm on your property, never spray them with water or  spray chemicals on them.  While they are clustered, scout bees are  actively looking for a permanent home.  When they find a new home, the  scouts will signal to the others to follow them to their new home.  A  swarm cluster will usually find a new home within three days.  Often,  homeowners will call the fire or police department to ask them to  remove the swarm cluster.  These agencies will refer to a list of  beekeepers that are willing to remove swarms.  Some beekeepers charge a  fee for their services, and some do not.  You can access this list of  beekeepers yourself by going online to  This is the  website of the Sonoma County Beekeepers Association.

If you see a landed swarm on your property, you may call me to capture  the swarm.  My phone number is listed below, and I am also on the swarm  list of the Sonoma County Beekeepers Association.  I’ll bring the bees  to the Garden to expand our program here.  We could use some more bees.   Our bees produced 140 jars of honey last year.  We sold them all at  $6.00 per jar, and we could have sold many more!  Imagine our demand as  word gets out that we have top quality local honey from hives that we  manage without the use of chemicals in our hives.


Bill Wiebalk
321-6645 cell

Click on photos to expand:

Bees preparing to swarm

Swarm in Plum Tree

Preparing to capture the swarm

Most of the bees are in the box

Bees coming out to examine their new home