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Ridges to Reefs

November 2022

Facing the Mountain at CSUEB

Establishing the ṭuuštak Ecocultural Garden

Derek Emmons, Ag Conservation Coordinator

Support for new and developing community gardens involves coordination and outreach across organizational partners and grassroots organizations. While the CCRCD has facilitated this at multiple sites throughout the county, a foundational project of this fiscal year is the Eco-cultural Garden at the California State University - East Bay Concord Campus (CSUEB). An underlying goal for this planning grant was to start a process of conversation and action toward what activist, organizer, and scholar Adrienne Marie Brown might describe as “self care - community care - earth care”. It demands the establishment of a deeper responsibility for our landscape and accountability to justice within and between our human communities.

The garden is being planned through a partnership between the CSUEB-Concord staff, CCRCD, Master Gardeners, and members of East Bay and Rumsen Ohlone communities. The garden overlooks the western face of Mt. Diablo, ṭuuštak (Tuushtak) in Chochenyo-Ohlone, the cosmological point of creation for the East Bay’s diverse range of Ohlone, Miwok, and Yokut speaking peoples. While there are opportunities and challenges in navigating institutions, cultural leaders Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino emphasized a vision that this site will be one of many ‘touchstones’ that re-establishes safe spaces and home bases for their community to gather in from across their home territories.  

Vincent has expressed the core focuses of protecting the Chochenyo-Ohlone language, educating the public about the history of this land, and reminding people that the East Bay’s Indigenous communities still exist (please do not refer to them in past tense) and continue to survive despite on-going erasure and injustice. While this may have been disregarded or overlooked in the past, budgeting for Indigenous consultation has provided a platform for movement toward recognizing Indigenous partners as key leaders in land management within our collective home region. 

The imperative of this garden space for non-Indigenous folks who call the East Bay home is to continue learning as well as to provide an opportunity to reflect on how our own cultural ties to (or severance from) place—land—can shape well-being and the ability to be in deeper solidarity with others. 

From August to October 2022, the garden site received multiple hands (and machines) in the soil, working to establish irrigation and soil berms, integrating donated wood chips, and planting local native plants. A shade structure, nursery boxes, and a compost bin were built on site in partnership with CCRCD and CSUEB staff, faculty, and students. This is only the beginning; work will continue to happen with the garden and all communities involved.

If you would like to learn more or engage in this on-going project, please contact Derek Emmons.

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