The Experiment

Before settlers came to the San Francisco Bay, the East Bay Hills were composed of forest and woodlands. The northern part included the majestic redwoods while the southern part was dominated by oaks, buckeyes, sycamores, and big leaf maples. The colors were spectacular especially when the poppies were in full bloom.

The Masonic Home is providing 200 acres of land that they own for reforestation. The land has steep hills from uplift on the Hayward Fault and incised with deep valleys by rainwater. Dry Creek, a seasonal creek defines the boundary between Masonic Home property with Garin Park, owned by East Bay Regional Park system.

This innovative project is reforesting a now barren area with California Coast Live Oak plant series at Masonic Home in Union City. The Masonic Home is a retirement facility that produces about 2 tons of food waste per week. A nearby horse ranch provides horse manue (2 tons per week) and tree company provides wood chips (2 tons per week and added 2-4 tons per month for mulching). Food from the kitchens is brought to the reforestation site where a thermophilic composter was built from the Green Mountain Technology Company.

Wood chips are used to help create pockets for aeration, the manue helps increase the nitrogen ratio, and together with the food waste produces compost. The compost is then cured for a few months and then spread along the hills, then covered with more wood chips. The compost helps to enrich depleted soil to establish a 200 acre forest. This long term conservation activity will restore habitat and soil while educating the community through volunteer opportunities.

Masonic Homes of California is located in the southern part of the East Bay and is part of a very important environmental experiment. The Masonic Homes, Tri-Ced Community Recycling , Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 2, and Math Science Nucleus are working together to turn food waste (1-2 tons per week) into compost, using an in-vessel composter. As we are transforming 200 acres, we are training youth for career skills in restoration and agriculture through several work programs. Our first experiments will look at ratios of compost; how the trees, shrubs, and flowers react to compost; and how to protect vegetation from native grazers.

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