story written by Tony Kamba
Jessica Bates has taken home and neighborhood resiliency up 10 notches at the home she shares with her husband Josh in El Sobrante. From rain water harvesting to growing perennial plants to organizing both disaster preparedness meetings and Crop Swaps with neighbors, they are exemplary models of Resilient Homes and neighborhoods.
While the average American still has to buy most of their food from the market including groceries, there is a little portion of the population that has put to rest the need to visit stores to buy regular groceries. Among them is Jessica Bates. She runs an impressive home garden in both the front and backyard of her house in El Sobrante. Jessica moved in her house with her husband about five years ago. The ground at the time was bare, with nothing but a ton of concrete floor at the backyard.
Jessica and Josh set to work, redesigning their yard from front to the back. They now have variety of crops available and ready to be eaten. She has a number of fruit trees, a variety of berries and plethora of perennial plants, which are her specialty. She has most daily required necessary vegetables including lettuces, onions, kale, tomatoes, pumpkin and Zucchini on the garden.
In her backyard, Jessica has chickens and a home nursery which specializes in perennial plants. .To save water, Jessica currently reuses greywater to irrigate her garden, and a substantial rain water catchment which helps them to water their plants in the summertime.
Their efforts to organize their neighborhood are equally as impressive. To start, they are working with other neighbors to also design a neighborhood resilience strategy that would help them to be ready for any emergency, from earthquakes to fires. “We also have Crop Swaps in the neighborhood to exchange vegetables and share them,” she says.Their regular community meetings also help them to organize a money lending project where they pool money each week and give to one family and the next week, goes to another family.
Jessica notes that the enthusiastic community spirit has inspired her actions. “We have a very supportive community here and so we really rely on each other for support. We are not just sharing items but we are sharing life” she says.