Community Outreach

The Livermore-Amador Valley Garden Club has a number of service projects in the Tri-Valley Area. We also support the Penny Pines program, which is a joint partnership of the National Garden Club (NGC) and the USDA Forest Service sustaining our national and urban forests through this reforestation/forest education program.

Sensory Garden

Third Fridays. Next: Friday, Nov 16, 2018 9:00 am to Noon

5353 Sunol Blvd., Pleasanton; Across from Raley's. Adjacent to the Pleasanton Senior Center on Sunol Blvd

The purpose of the monthly work party is to maintain the Sensory Garden in a presentable condition for public viewing. Our work parties are usually on the third Friday of the month. We weed the garden, cut back any dead growth, deadhead spent flowers and generally tidy up the plantings.

We ask you to bring your own hand tools, such as pruners, trowels, soil knives, etc. plus kneeling pads and work gloves; larger tools will be provided. As the Sensory Garden consists of 2 ground-level beds and 3 raised beds, we have chores that require sitting, kneeling or standing, so please let your preference be known.

Restrooms are located in the nearby Senior Center Building. After the work party, for those interested, we adjourn to a close-by eatery for lunch.

We invite all of the club members to participate. We will be happy to show less experienced members how to do the tasks. Even if you can't spend the full three hours working in the garden, any time that you can participate is welcomed, so please come early or come late.

Even if you cannot attend the work party, feel free to visit the garden on any day to relax and enjoy yourself. If you come on a calm sunny day, bees, butterflies, humming birds and other pollinators will be actively working their rounds for you added enjoyment.

Please signup at the monthly LAVGC meeting or RSVP Daniel McCright. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Dan's contact information.

For more information, please contact Daniel McCright. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Dan's contact information.


The featured plants for November are all culinary herbs that are aromatic and often used in cooking and for garnishing dishes.

Winter Savory (Satureja montana)

This herb is perennial. It makes a shrub about 2 ft in height and blooms profusely in the summer months with small white flowers that attract many kinds of pollinators. Its culinary use is in the leaves that give a peppery flavor to stews and soups. A little of it goes a long way, so add it sparingly, It is a Mediterranean plant and in the Sensory Garden it occupies a position where it receives little summer irrigation water.

Featured Plant: Winter Savory (Satureja montana)

Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis)

We have many kinds of salvia/sage in the Sensory Garden. This sage is the one used in cooking and serves to enhance the taste of many meat, including Thanksgiving turkey. It is also a very ornamental plant and bears lavender-blue flowers in late spring. It is native to the Balkan Peninsula and does not require much summer watering. It grows around 2 feet in height.

Featured Plant: Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Ornamental Oregano (Origanum laevigatum)

There are many species of oregano and marjoram, all native to the Mediterranean. They grow very well in our climate and all have aromatic foliage. This particular oregano bears showy bright purple flowers over a long period. It grows about 2 ft in height but spreads by underground runners. Oregano is used to flavor many dishes from the Mediterranean countries and it is so typical of Greek and Italian cuisines.

Featured Plant: Ornamental Oregano (Origanum laevigatum)

Lavender, Goodwin Creek Gray (Lavandula lanata x L. dentata)

We have many kinds of lavender in the Sensory Garden, a quintessential plant of the Mediterranean world. The one shown here is the variety Goodwin Creek Gray of hybrid origin. It bears spikes of dark lavender blue flowers almost all year round. The flowers and foliage are highly aromatic and attractive to bees. Lavender can be used in sparring quantities in cooking. A small bit added to boiled white rice turns a ho-hum food into a remarkable side dish.

Featured Plant: Lavender, Goodwin Creek Gray (Lavandula lanata x L. dentata)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Another quintessential plant in the Mediterranean world, rosemary imparts so much flavor to meats, stews, and casseroles. It is also a highly ornamental plant. In the Sensory Garden, it is planted in one of the raised beds and is allowed to cascade over the edge of the wall. This particular variety bears deep blue-purple flowers over a long period in the cooler months of the year.

Featured Plant: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

The thick bulbous stems of lemon grass are used in many of the cuisines of southeast Asia, where it is native. This plant needs regular watering during the summer months. In the Sensory Garden, it is planted in one of the raised beds where it is watered by a drip irrigation system. A tropical plant, it is not supposed to be hardy in our climate zone, but it has survived many frosty winters to achieve the large clump shown in the photo.

Featured Plant: Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora)

This is a shrubby plant that has powerfully fragrant leaves that can be used to provide lemon taste to herbal teas and to cookies and other baked goods. It is native to South America. It will grow into a substantial lanky shrub in a few years ,but we prune ours back annually to keep it in bounds.

Featured Plant: Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora)

Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum)

The foliage of this scented geranium has both a tactile and aromatic quality that earns it a cherished location in one of the raised beds in the Sensory Garden. In summer it bears small pink flowers, but it is the foliage that merits its inclusion. The foliage does get touched by frosty mornings, but the plant recovers quickly once the weather turns warmer.

Featured Plant: Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum)

Absinthe (Artemesia absinthium)

This plant is also called wormwood and is one of the herbs used in flavoring the liqueur absinthe of notorious fame. The aroma of the foliage is earthy, to say the least, and has a bitter taste. Like other artemesia it is grown for the almost white deeply-cut foliage. It makes a bushy shrub that grows to 2-3 feet and needs little summer watering.

Featured Plant: Absinthe (Artemesia absinthium)

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Camp Arroyo

Friday, Nov 30, 2018 9:00 am to Noon

5535 Arroyo Road, Livermore, CA 94550

Camp Arroyo is a 138-acre park owned and maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District since 1995. It is used by the YMCA for outdoor education during the school year and by the Taylor Family Foundation during the summer for children with serious illnesses. Camp Arroyo is a pesticide free garden with an emphasis on vegetables.

**** This is the 5th Friday due to Thanksgiving****. There will be weeding, deadheading, and trimming. Help for the whole time or any portion of that time is very, very, very appreciated! The Camp is a gated area and I will have the gate open from 8:45-9:45, if you are arriving after 9:45 please let me know and I'll have the gate open for you. Lunch will be available after at our camp dining hall - if you have not joined us for lunch it's always great - with options for all dietary needs. Thanks one and all for your help and support.

Please sign up at the monthly LAVGC meeting or RSVP to Kim Billingsley - Camp Arroyo gardener. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Kim's contact information.

For more information or if you would like to be on the notification list, contact Kim Billingsley - Camp Arroyo gardener. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Kim's contact information.


The address is 5535 Arroyo Road in Livermore. Once you are on Arroyo Road, continue past Wente Winery on the left. Camp Arroyo is a short distance from Wente and is located on the right hand side. The first gate is for the Taylor Family Foundation, you want the second gate and you will recognize it by the stone walls either side of the gate and of course, the sign!

Once inside Camp, you can park in the lot on the left and the garden will be across the road on the right.

If you're not sure where it is, ask to ride with someone.

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Pictures from 2017 and 2018 Sensory Garden work parties

Here are some photos taken at Sensory Garden work parties in the recent past. Work parties are fun for getting to know our members and the participants learn about horticultural practices as they perform the work of transplanting, weeding, dead heading, pruning, fertilizing, controlling pests and propagation of plants.

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Eden Garden - an organic project

No workparties are currently scheduled

1660 Freisman Road, Livermore. Pleasanton if you are using GPS! Although it is actually in Livermore!

'Eden Garden - an organic project', located on the grounds of Crosswinds Church, has 2 simple goals: to provide fresh, organic food for those in need and to give people a hands on opportunity to learn about growing their own food.

Eden Garden is located near the barn on the Crosswinds Church property in Livermore, on the frontage road just beyond the Outlet Mall. Volunteers come from the garden club, Crosswinds Church, and the community.

Our Eden Garden volunteers have done an amazing job this growing season helping to raise produce for the Alameda County Food Bank Satellite, which is located at the Well Church, and the South Hayward Outreach Center (formerly known as the Hayward Parish). Our volunteers also worked very hard on the garden expansion. As of November 1, the Eden Garden regular work days for 2018 will end. If you are on the Eden Garden email list, you can expect to receive periodic notices of "pop-up" work parties; that is, informally-scheduled work parties when a few of us decide to go to the garden to work. We'd love to have you join us then. We will be raising some winter crops and will also be working on a few remaining tasks related to the garden expansion.

If you would like more information or want to be added to the Eden Garden email list, send a request to Barbara Stott, Karen Abbuscato or Beth Clark.

Thank you for your support of the Eden Garden - an organic project and helping us meet our goal of getting fresh, clean produce to those in need. Happy Gardening!

We are famous! A video has been made about the Eden Garden - an organic project. Here is a link to the video which not only features the Garden but an insight into the South Hayward Outreach Center where much of produce is delivered.

Pictures from the 2017 Eden Garden

  • 2017 HARVEST
  • Beans 161 lbs
  • Berries 4 lbs
  • Carrots 5 lbs
  • Cucumber 831 lbs
  • Eggplant 79 lbs
  • Fava beans 150 lbs
  • Garlic 145 lbs
  • Melon 31 lbs
  • Onions 50 lbs
  • Peppers 120 lbs
  • Persimmons 9 lbs
  • Pomegranite 60 lbs
  • Summer squash 412 lbs
  • Tomatoes 248 lbs
  • Winter squash 422 lbs
  • GRAND TOTAL 2,727 lbs
  • 2016 HARVEST
  • Beans 30.5 lbs
  • Berries 21 lbs
  • Cucumber 103.25 lbs
  • Garlic 45 lbs
  • Leeks 8 lbs
  • Melon 82 lbs
  • Onions 12 lbs
  • Peppers 57.5 lbs
  • Potatoes 59 lbs
  • Summer squash 416.5 lbs
  • Tomatoes 204.75 lbs
  • Winter squash 57.5 lbs
  • Other (Tomatillo) 26.5 lbs
  • GRAND TOTAL 1,123.5 lbs
  • 2015 HARVEST
  • Apricots 2
  • Blackberries 16 lbs
  • Cucumber 495 lbs
  • Eggplant 10 lbs
  • Garlic 25 lbs
  • Herbs 19 bunches
  • Leeks 22 lbs
  • Onions 60 lbs
  • Peppers 170 lbs
  • Persimmons 32 lbs
  • Potatoes 71 lbs
  • Summer squash 327 lbs
  • Tomatoes 476 lbs
  • Winter squash 366 lbs
  • GRAND TOTAL 2,072 lbs
  • 2014 HARVEST
  • Basil 3.5 lbs
  • Blackberries 1 lbs
  • Butternut squash 32 lbs
  • Cucumber 3 lbs
  • Eggplant 196 lbs
  • Garlic 66 lbs
  • Leeks 16 lbs
  • Onions 277 lbs
  • Peppers 205 lbs
  • Potatoes 55 lbs/li>
  • Summer squash 672 lbs
  • Tomatoes 317 lbs
  • Winter squash 153 lbs
  • GRAND TOTAL 1,996.5 lbs
  • 2013 HARVEST
  • Beans 78 lbs
  • Cantaloupe 7 lbs
  • Eggplant 16 lbs
  • Garlic 25 lbs
  • Kale 16 lbs
  • Onions 36 lbs
  • Peppers 90 lbs
  • Persimmons 7 lbs
  • Potatoes 159 lbs
  • Squash 328 lbs
  • Tomatoes 390 lbs
  • GRAND TOTAL 1,152 lbs


From Dublin, take 580 east towards Livermore. Get off at El Charro/Fallon Road and turn right on to El Charro. Turn left at the Outlet Mall and then left again at the end of the Outlet Mall block. Keep to the right and turn right at the end of the road (onto the frontage road). Drive past the golf driving range to the end of Freisman Road. Freisman dead ends at the property. Turn right on to the property. Once on the property take the first left. Follow the road around, across the bridge and you will see a large metal barn. The garden is behind the barn.

From Livermore, you can take 580 west and exit at El Charro/Fallon Road or you can access the property from Jack London Blvd (via Isabel/84). Turn right at the outlet mall. Keep to the right and turn right at the end of the road (onto the frontage road). Drive past the golf driving range to the end of Freisman Road. Freisman dead ends at the property. Turn right on to the property. Once on the property take the first left. Follow the road around, across the bridge and you will see a large metal barn. The garden is behind the barn.

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Livermore 1st Street Pots

No workparties are currently scheduled

Please contact Mary Davis for more information.See the LAVGC Yearbook for additional contact information.

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Pleasanton Gardens

251 Kottinger Drive, Pleasanton

The Pleasanton Gardens project, which the LAVGC initiated in 1987, closed in 2016 due to construction of the new housing for seniors called Kottinger Gardens.

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Garden Angels

We have a group of members willing and eager to go out and help any garden club member that is not able to keep up their garden temporarily possibly because of illness, chemo, etc. We can deadhead, sweep, plant annuals, and generally tidy up the garden. Do you need this kind of help or know someone who does? If so, please use the signup sheet at the monthly club meeting or contact Peggy Despotakis.

Looking for Garden Angels. Periodically club members need some help in their gardens due to illness. If you would like to be on the Angel call list for a workparty, contact Peggy Despotakis.

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Penny Pines

The Penny Pines program, which is a joint partnership of the National Garden Club (NGC) and the USDA Forest Service sustaining our national and urban forests through this reforestation/forest education program.

Have you wondered what that cute green box that is passed around at the meeting and people are putting money inside is for? Each $68 that we collect is used to plant an acre of burned out national forest land. Since 1999, our club has donated money to help plant 109 acres of trees for a total donation of over $8,000.

Through the years the members of our garden club have been very generous through donations to the Penny Pines box circulated at each meeting. We have purchased 143 plantations in honor of current and former club members as well as donations to honor the first responders for 9/11 relief, as well as others in our community.

We have also participated in the Arbor Day celebration for last two years in partnership with Alden Lane, The California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, and Davey Expert Tree Company to purchase a plantation for each of eight Pleasanton elementary schools. They are presented during an Arbor Day training session presented by club members.

At our September, 2018 meeting the club voted to donate 10 plantations to honor the first responders to the many recent fires in our beautiful state. A vote was taken to choose the two forests where we would donate 5 plantations each. By popular vote we decided to send 5 plantations to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Redding, CA and 5 to the Mendocino National Forest in Porterville, CA.

In addition to donations made by the club, you can make private donations as Jeri Stark did this Christmas. She felt her children have everything they need and so she gave them each a certificate honoring them in the forests near Yosemite where they have spent many years at their grandparent's home. Giving back a bit for all the years of enjoyment for the many happy and fun filled days spent in the area. How it works:

  • LAVGC can honor current or past club members, a member's life partner, or child by contributing funds to the USDA Forest Service.
  • A club member may privately honor an individual by submitting a completed form along with a check for $68, payable to LAVGC.
  • At each monthly meeting, the club collects change that is set aside for a time when a plantation is to be purchased to honor a club member.
  • A PENNY PINES Certificate will be sent to inform the family of the location of the plantation.
  • Nomination to be approved or denied by the LAVGC Executive Board within 60 days of receipt.
  • The Executive Board may also direct purchase of a Penny Pines Plantation for other reasons.
  • To obtain a form from the LAVGC Members Only section, signin, click 'Forms', click the 'Penny Pines' form you want.
  • To obtain a form or for more information, please contact Jeri Stark. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Jeri's phone numbers.

Click to see the NGC Penny Pines information.

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