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Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan - April 2016


Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan -  April 2016

by Heather Granahan

Rites of Spring

Spring is truly here; as I write this the apple orchards are just starting to detonate their first blooms while the last pruning teams rush to get caught up after the rain delays. The coastal tribes traditionally would visit their favorite seaweed gathering spots, meeting up with other folks from as far inland as Sacramento Valley, Laytonville and Lake County intent on the same thing. (Read accounts in “Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita” book by M. Dubin and S. Tolley). To avoid climbing out with heavy wet loads, the harvest was dried there on the beach. As someone who used to climb those cliffs with a load of heavy abalone, soaked wetsuit and diving weights, this sounds brilliant. To modern harvesters, good news from scientists at UC Berkeley, who over the five years since the Fukushima disaster and have found no increase in detectable radiation in our coastal plants and creatures. “Most people who make cross-country flights choose to be exposed to a larger amount of radiation than what they’d be exposed to from Fukushima’s effects here,” the leading prof says in a new SFGate article. Get yours at the farmer’s markets from Strong Arm Farm and get some great use tips.

As you may have noticed, I don’t list every event in this space as our editor maintains the most impressive calendar in the County. I must alert you to some favorites here:

Graton Community Club Spring Flower Show

This annual event is my favorite place to get summer garden starts, saving me battling hungry snails and getting a jumpstart while I work all day to live in this delightful and pricey part of the world. Interesting varieties grown by locals are acclimated to our dramatic temperature swings. Finds include dozens of tomato and other veggie varieties, drought tolerant species, bird, bee and butterfly friendly perennials, succulents, potted plants and bulbs. Shop local garden art, mosaic bird houses, baths and lots of other handcrafts and collectibles, and a raffle. Plus proceeds benefit a scholarship program for SRJC graduates continuing on to a four-year college – win-win!

 This year’s theme of the flower displays in the clubhouse is ‘For the Birds’, celebrating love for our feathered friends that so copiously populate our village, and seemingly all roost in my bamboo grove every night with a nightly chorus. At the Clubhouse downtown, Friday and Saturday, April 22 & 23. Free admission, 9am-4pm, with live music and all day feasts and tea/coffee/desserts for $5-10. Info 707-829-5314.

Spring Steam-Up!

One of many ways I celebrate my journey back to health this last year is by resuming my volunteer docent post at Sturgeon Steam Mill, our local living history museum. No quiet shuffling in whispers through this museum: instead expect chugging steam driven machines and vintage trucks, singing round saws literally ridden by our crew through huge donated windfall logs, loads of stories, photos and artifacts, working blacksmiths and garden of remarkable historic plantings (and botanical oddities like the Corkscrew Redwood). Kids and elders alike love oogling 100 years of NorCal history and having an inexpensive lunch while watching draft horses haul a log and sometimes one of our guys rappel up and down a vast tree next to the picnic area. Every weekend brings surprises in the parking lot as it is a favorite destination for motorcycle and vintage car clubs. A bald eagle has been spotted circling during runs, too. Recent additions to the activities include the activation of the big “steam donkey” – formerly a rusted monolith we stood on to describe it in action. Also added are student-only days every Friday of a run weekend; contact the Mill to get your class a spot in one of only 4 run weekends per year: email inquiry at Check out a video:

Final Buzz

Bees being a subject close to my heart and to the food source of us all; I encourage everyone to keep ears tuned to deep loud hummings and eyes to large gobs of hanging honeybees: it is swarm season. They will not hurt you as they are gorged and placid. Only 19% of honeybees survive in the wild and there is a short window to offer them a hive. We have at least 3 Gratonites standing by to respond to a swarm call. Email me at the and I will alert them all by text.