Costanoa Commons logo with the tagline, "We grow for life."
Costanoa Commons
April 2016
Silicon Valley Gives
Silicon Valley Gives logoAs we begin our first farming season, we realize how fortunate we are to have so many wonderful friends and supporters.

Silicon Valley Gives day is on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. On this day, thousands of Bay Area residents will donate to many worthy non-profit organizations.

We hope you will join this 24-hour effort by giving to Costanoa Commons. Your generosity will help us plant our first row crops and perennial garden, build a hoop house, and purchase tools and farm equipment.

Here's how you can help:

  • Mark May 3, 2016 on your calendar as a Silicon Valley Gives day.
  • Visit our donation page at or click the image in this article or the DONATE NOW! button to donate.
  • Follow us on Facebook.
  • Spread the word! Share on Facebook or via email and let your friends know that you are supporting Costanoa Commons.
  • Don't wait! Donate now or on May 3.
Donate Now!
At Costanoa Commons, we believe that all people need a meaningful role in life and people with intellectual disabilities are no different. Everyone wants to contribute to society and people with intellectual disabilities are no exception. Join our effort and help us give people with and without disabilities an opportunity to grow healthy food and build community!
The dialects of our tribe
Angela working on a puzzleThe pieces don’t always fit
by Mable Jang

It’s April, Autism Awareness month. The symbol for autism is a puzzle piece. How ironic, my daughter Angela’s absolute favorite hobby is doing puzzles. She can do a 1500-piece puzzle. It might take a long time, but eventually she will compete it

Angela was diagnosed with autism at age three and one-half and will turn 22 next month. At the time of her diagnosis, one out of every 500 children was diagnosed with autism, which doesn’t come close to the number today. Angela is moderately to severely autistic. She is lower functioning, has very little language, and lacks social skills. That said, Angela has a sweet personality, likes to participate in activities, and most people are drawn to her almost immediately. She is truly a blessing in our lives and our family would not be the same without her.

Angela gets upset if she has missing pieces in her puzzles. For years we’ve tried numerous therapies (some not so traditional) to help all the pieces in her brain fit together. Even though she has made significant progress through the years, we still have lots of missing pieces that we might never find.

Putting her life together is like putting several puzzles together and trying to make all the pieces fit into one picture. Even though the struggle to get all the pieces to fit together is daunting, I can imagine how beautiful the image will be when all the pieces are finally aligned — just like her completed 1500 piece puzzles.
Spring start-up
by Liz Milazzo, Farm Manager

Such a green spring this year! It’s been delightful to take in all the shades of green, and discover the old-fashioned flowers planted around the 19th century farmhouse — iridescent purple bearded iris, and a climbing rose with a trunk the size of the apple tree it stands next to. Such a beautiful sight to see the mingled canopies of apple and rose in full bloom together.

Sowing the first seeds of spring, I repeat silently, "I entrust myself to Earth; Earth entrusts herself to me." We prepare the ground, do our best to tend, and then truly have a chance to witness the power of the living seeds we handle. All the more so recalling the story of a particular seed — the Chianti Rose tomato from Don Tipping at a seed exchange in 2009, the tomato seed my mom saved from farmers’ market dry-farmed tomatoes grown here on Golf Club Drive. It’s my hope and confidence that our lives will be enriched by the joy of plants we cultivate at the farm. Many dialects, many crops known by name, their presence on a sowing list like the birthdays on the family calendar.

Our new broadfork at workOur first activity in March was to design and construct a small greenhouse, 8 feet by 12 feet and 8 feet tall, facing south, just to the right of the driveway as you come in the gate. We picked this location for the great southern exposure, good drainage (the field was still wet in March!), and location near a hose standpipe. 

Why start transplants in a greenhouse? Two primary advantages are the chance to do good soil preparation before planting and water conservation. Growing several thousand small plants in trays uses a fraction of what it would take to irrigate those same plants at a wider spacing in the ground. And we free ourselves up to start on soil cultivation now. 
A tractor mowing the farm field
Many thanks to Josh Fodor and the staff of Ecological Concerns for mowing the farm field on Saturday, April 16.
A broadfork at workWe’ll soon start preparing a kitchen garden to receive the little transplants. Thanks to our friends at Meadow Creature LLC, we've already received a well-designed broadfork with four tines that you rock back and forth in the soil, standing on the tool. These forks are popular with small growers up north who use them exclusively to till a couple of acres of vegetable production.

We’re looking forward to spring planting and beginning to think in practical terms about the garden program at Costanoa Commons farm.

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