MA Center San Ramon

GreenFriends Farm

Fruit swells into ripeness on a mature tree in the orchard

Growing with Nature

Once a barren landscape, MA Center San Ramon, Amma’s first US ashram, is now a pure example of Amma’s vision to bring harmony to nature through sustainable and compassionate techniques for the cultivation of land and resources. In 2007, Amma asked that a 1000 fruit trees be planted at MA Center, San Ramon and thus, GreenFriends Farm was born!
Today, with rolling hills of fruit trees, GreenFriends Farm has blossomed into an educational center for ecologically conscious agriculture. It is a destination for enjoying nature, and a vibrant spot for volunteers of all ages. Amma blessed the 1000th fruit tree sapling during the retreat in 2019. (see photo).

The farm is a place to grow with Nature.  Using the guiding principles of permaculture, and utilizing Soil Food Web technology, our goal is to shift the way we work with the earth.

On volunteer days we host groups and permaculture enthusiasts who come to help prepare the soil and plant trees on the farm. Our outreach to local schools provides an experience of nature and farming systems to urban youth and their families.  

Working with Sustainable Practices

GreenFriends Farm has worked in collaboration with other organizations to offer hands-on courses and intensives on ecologically conscious farming and land management practices.

Permaculture

Permaculture is a design science that creates living environments that are sustainable and have the diversity and resilience of nature. GreenFriends Farm has hosted Permaculture Design Certification Courses by eminent Permaculture teachers. Joining hands with Common Vision and Living Mandala, we hosted courses by Geoff Lawton and Darren Doherty. The farm is also a hands-on classroom for the San Francisco Permaculture Design Course. 

(photo of Geoff Lawton teaching students during a Permaculture Design Certification Course at GreenFriends Farm).

We use or have used the following permaculture practices:

  • keyline plowing
  • soil erosion prevention techniques
  • net and pan
  • use of companion planting
  • beekeeping

Soil Food Web: Science of Soil Microorganisms

Soil Food Web is a science of soil microorganisms and their interaction with plants and the earth. In the orchards we are using Soil Food Web techniques to transform our hard clay soil that is bacterial dominant into a fungal dominant soil that is suitable for fruit trees. GreenFriends Farm has been honored to host Dr. Elaine Ingam and her Soil Food Web course for several years. Dr. Ingam is the chief scientist at Soil Foodweb Inc. a premier research institute for organic farming since 1947. 

We implement the following Soil Food Web practices:

  • regular applications of compost tea and compost extract
  • heavy mulching with wood chips rich in fungal food
  • making of thermal compost
  • regular analysis of soil
  • compost and compost tea under microscope
  • planting cover crops and companion plants to encourage beneficial microorganisms

VEGETABLE MARKET GARDEN STARTED IN 2019

2021 brings big changes for the MA Center Vegetable Gardens, with the addition of organic heirloom seedlings available for sale to the community! 

Amma advised the garden team to let the gardens rest this year due to the impending water crisis and drought, so the team quickly pivoted to the seedling project in a new greenhouse built in March. Swamini Ambikamrita Prana performed a blessing ceremony in the greenhouse to bless the seedlings and the efforts of garden Sevites.

The team has been successfully growing many beautiful heirloom plants from certified organic seeds, and the sales to the community have been going very well.  After all, Amma always asks Her children to try to grow some organic food, even if we only have a little space.  So although there won’t be a vegetable garden this year at the MA Center, the community has been quite enthused about growing their own food, planning to grow in pots on balconies, in community gardens and in their own backyards! 

May Amma’s grace bless everyone’s efforts for a beautiful and bountiful harvest!

For more background on the garden see the article: http://greenfriendsna.org/lotus_garden.html in the GreenFriends North America newsletter, 2020 summer edition.

Grow with us!