Commons Native Garden

Early in 2007, West Marin Commons set to work with Marshall Livingston, who owns the Livery Stable building in Point Reyes Station, to create a common garden space there.

The original idea was a  ”food forest,”  which is an edible landscape that provides fruits and vegetables as well as greenery.  Scott Davidson and Jessie Servi, then of the Regenerative Design Institute, gave generously of their time to design the site.  We hired the Inverness Gardening Service to remove buried asphalt from a prior use, and brought in manure from the Giacomini Ranch.  We sponsored a sheet mulching workshop with Permaculture Marin.

Then a soil test raised issues that stemmed from the prior use.  The test was not conclusive, but we decided to err on the side of caution.  The Ethnobiology Project, which is a study group of the West Marin Commons, offered an alternative – a native garden dedicated to plants that are indigenous to this place.

Guidance on design came from Judith Lowry of Larner Native Seeds, the author of Gardening with a Wild Heart, and Landscaping Ideas of Jays ( Rufus Blunk, a local artist and landscaper, has led the actual planting, and also the building of a fence, arbors, gates and archway – all from reclaimed materials.  The archway will serve as a support for climbing native vines including pipevine, wild grapevine, and local clematis.

There have been many volunteer workdays,  involving young and old and in between.  Volunteers helped plant the native wild strawberries, yerba buena, coyote bush, and pink-flowering currant.  Many of the plants were donated.  A commons embodies the economics of community, and this native garden is an example.

With the Mainstreet Moms and dozens of others, we held a ceremonial planting after Barack Obama’s inauguration speech.  More than fifty people showed up to plant native red-berried evergreens and hazelnut “trees of hope.”  We found a home for the fruit trees originally planted in the Restoration Garden in an expanding Production Garden at West Marin School.  (The trees had to be moved because of the lingering questions about the soil.)

The native garden will continue to evolve.  We are raising funds now to create a water fountain for birds and insects; and have begun an assessment for a rainwater catchment system that would use the roofs of Tomales Bay Foods and/or the Livery Stable.  Such a system would help provide irrigation for the garden.  It also would serve to demonstrate traditional water conservation practice at a highly visible location.

Illustrator Heather Peters Pratt, recently created a poster that provides information about the plants and the garden.

Look for updates on our effort to preserve rare and endangered native plants in our Fostering Forbs project.


Thanks to:

Marshall Livingston for offering his place, and to Ann Sheree Greenbaum for focused initial steps.

Native Plant Restoration Garden design donated by Judith Lowry, of Larner Seeds

Butterfly habitat consultation thanks to eye-opening caterpillar-butterfly lady Barbara Deutsch.

Planning, fundraising, enthusiasm, and sheet mulching workshop thanks to Jessy Servi and Scott Davidson; herbal spiral guidance from Molly Myerson; all with generous support from Permaculture Marin volunteers.

Reclaimed fence and gate construction, and arbor, a gift of artist Rufus Blunk.

Inverness Garden Club for plant donations Summer 2009

Many thanks to West Marin Commons volunteers of all ages, and the contributions of many in the community.

If you’d like to contribute or find out more about this project, please email:


Online Forums

Commons Connect Forums provide a virtual gathering place to those who live and work in the West Marin Community. (Access to this local online forum is limited to those who work and live in the geographical area outlined here.)

A single registration allows community members to post local events on the Community Calendar, to post items of immediate importance on Alerts, and to access all of the forums including:

  • West Marin Soapbox: Campaigns, Causes, and Discussions
  • Over-the-Hill-Gang: Rides and Errands
  • West Marin Share: Reuse materials; share information and services -  a money free zone
  • West Marin Marketplace: rentals; things and services for sale
  • Tending the Wild Collaborative: An Ethnobiology Project
  • Local Food System Initiative: Food and garden related shares and information
  • Think Local West Marin: Appreciation and applause for our neighbors
  • Commons Connect Tech Support: Help with our Web site features
  • Volunteering Opportunities in West Marin: Help our local non-profits





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