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, Jan 18, 2019 9:00 am to Noon

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

The Sensory Garden scheduled work party for November 16 had to be postponed because of the very poor air quality resulting from the tragic forest fires. The re-scheduled work party was held on November 27. The garden was "winterized" in the sense that much of the dead or dying stalks of plants were removed. Some new plants were set out. There will be no work party in December as we accomplished our goals in November. The next work party will occur on Friday January 18, 2019,

We would like to thank members Dave Gates, Betty Nostrand, Nancy Harrington, Beth Clark, Sandra Hirst, Dolores Bengston, Michelle Tallon, and Daniel McCright for their help in November and also to all our members who helped at all the work parties in the year 2018. The garden looks attractive because of all your efforts.

Work party or not, we hope you will visit the garden in December. The featured plants for December are described and photographed below. Even in winter, there are plants putting on a display of berries, interesting form and foliage, plus some in bloom.

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 December have the common trait of showing fall color as we traverse the seasonal changes from autumn to winter. The foliage color change is a bonus to the other attributes of each plant.

Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephallum)

The Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephallum) is of hybrid origin. The flower heads are composed entirely of sterile flowers, so no fruit is produced, unlike other viburnums. Instead, it forms very large white clusters of flowers in spring. As a bonus, the foliage turns to autumn colors before dropping to the ground. The plant blooms on old wood from the previous season, so we prune it after the bloom period. In the Sensory Garden the Chinese Snowball is planted where it receives some summer watering. It does not appear to be bothered by pests or diseases, truly a plant that provides us so much for little effort.

Featured Plant: Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephallum)

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids)

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids) is definitely a plant for all seasons. In winter the pattern of exfoliation of the bark is an interesting relief from the monotony of the dormant season. In spring the emerging foliage shows a multi-colored hue, while in the warmth of summer, the gorgeous colors of the flower clusters are dominant in the landscape. Finally, in fall the leaves turn to shades of yellow, orange, and red before dropping. Crape myrtles revel in the summer heat and do exceptionally well in the inland regions of the Bay Area. Each variety of crape myrte has its own color changes through the year. It can be grown as a small tree or a large shrub, depending on how it is pruned.

Featured Plant: Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids)

Smoke tree (Cotinus coggyris)

Smoke tree (Cotinus coggyris) is renown for its colorful deep maroon foliage in the spring and summer months. In late autumn its leaves turn to reddish shades before falling. Thus we get a color change with the seasons. The smoke tree thrives in a portion of the Sensory Garden that receives little watering during our summer dry period. It is a plant that is not fussy about soil types. It is deep rooted so other plants grow successfully around its base.

Featured Plant: Smoke tree (Cotinus coggyris)

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Camp Arroyo

Friday, Dec 28, 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.

A great chance, weather accommodating, to get out and start thinking about spring! There will be planting of seeds for spring/summer crops, weeding, deadheading, and getting beds ready for planting. Help for the whole time or any portion of that time is very, very, very appreciated!

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 is not available this time as there will not be campers at camp, and the kitchen staff will have the week off, but I'll have assorted goodies for us to enjoy! 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.

As of November 1, the Eden Garden regular work days for 2018 ended. 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

  • 2018 HARVEST
  • Apples 25 lbs
  • Beans 103 lbs
  • Cucumber 201 lbs
  • Garlic 110 lbs
  • Onions 104 lbs
  • Melons 20 lbs
  • Peppers 28 lbs
  • Persimmons 201 lbs
  • Pomegranite 100 lbs
  • Potatoes 69 lbs
  • Summer squash 787 lbs
  • Tomatoes 229 lbs
  • Winter squash 228 lbs
  • Watermelon 10 lbs
  • GRAND TOTAL 2,215 lbs
  • 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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