Thursday, May 25, 2023

Food Forests: A vision for the future

Photo by Aleta George
Best friends Nam Nguyen and Natalie DeNicholas graciously welcomed visitors to their "food forest" garden Greyhawk Grove by picking pea pods and handing them out, sharing eggs from their Easter-egger chickens, and answering questions about plants.

Nguyen planted the garden nine years ago with the help of Sustainable Solano, a Solano County nonprofit that helps people create sustainable yards. Along with its fruit, greens, and herbs, Greyhawk Grove has benches for sitting, framed poetry for reflection, and spring bulbs for cheer.

 “We are aware of mental health in this house, and it’s nice to have a calm place in the garden,” says DeNicholas, as a hummingbird fluttered to an apple blossom. 

This spring, Sustainable Solano hosted open gardens that they helped plan and plant, offering visitors a chance to find out just what a food forest is: a garden layered like a natural forest that includes fruit-bearing trees and edible plants.

Read more in Kneedeep Times about this garden and another on the tour that was planted with flood mitigation in mind.

El Bosquecito, or Little Forest, garden. Photo by Aleta George

Monday, May 15, 2023

Eight years after the publication of
Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate, it has a sweet new review!

Ayako Hoshino, an assistant professor at Wayo Women's University in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan (near Tokyo), wrote a review for Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies.

Hoshino begins by saying, "Although much has been written about California’s rich literary history, the life of poet Ina Donna Coolbrith (1841–1928) seems to deserve a brighter spotlight."

The closing paragraph says, "George gives a sympathetic and comprehensive treatment of Coolbrith’s ambitions and intelligence, recognizing the struggles she faced in a male-centered world."

Thank you for the review and recognition of Ina, Professor Hoshino!

Hoshino, A., (2022) “Aleta George, Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California’s First Poet Laureate. Suisun City, CA: Shifting Plates Press, 2015. 337 pp.”, Lifewriting Annual: Biographical and Autobiographical Studies 5(1). doi:

Dorothy Lazard, My Favorite Librarian

Librarian, historian, and writer Dorothy Lazard has just published her first book, What You Don't Know Will Make a Whole New World (Heyday Books, May 2023).

I first met Dorothy more than a decade ago at the Oakland History Center at the main branch of the Oakland Public Library when I was researching my biography on Ina Coolbrith, Oakland's first public librarian and the nation's first poet laureate. Dorothy quickly became my favorite (living) librarian, and I'm not alone in my enthusiasm. She retired two years ago to pursue her decades-long interest in writing.

In March 2023 I met with Dorothy to talk about her book, her path to the Oakland Public Library, and her passion for writing.

Read my profile of Dorothy Lazard in California magazine here.