All posts by Rebecca Flanegan

DONATE to support the preservation of our natural world!

The world desperately needs more people to fall in love with nature—with woods, wildlife, water, snowy mountains, coral reefs, and fragile habitats everywhere–because if people love something, they want to look after it. It’s that simple. At The Gardens at Heather Farm, we know exactly how to cultivate and spread that passion for nature. But we can’t do it without your help.

The facts are not in dispute. Science brings us new evidence every day, every hour. Global temperatures are increasing. Average sea levels rose nearly twice as much in the last two decades as they did during the entire previous century. The impact of these changes on all forms of life is dramatic—even catastrophic. Dozens of species of plants and animals go extinct every day—and experts predict that as many as half of all species on the planet could be headed for extinction by the middle of this century. What we don’t know yet is how these changes will ultimately affect us. So yes—this is a grave problem.

Part of the solution rests in our hands. At The Gardens, we know how to spark that love and forge a deep connection with nature. You could say it is the “root” of who we are, it’s in our organizational DNA. A visit to The Gardens at Heather Farm offers a multitude of ways to experience the environment up close and to appreciate the delicate balance between humans and nature.

Maintaining a beautiful indoor/outdoor facility that takes you inside nature costs money. And offering a range of intensive science-education programs for kids and adults requires resources. The revenue we take in from events, foundation grants, and corporate gifts combined, pays for just over half of these ongoing expenses. We rely on donors like you to make up the difference.

How do we know what we’re doing is working? Thanks to the generosity and foresight of dedicated supporters like you, we have achieved many successes. Please take a look at just a few of the ways we’ve connected people with nature and inspired them to make a difference:

  • With your support, we host more than 100,000 visitors in our gardens each year who discover plants that thrive in our summer-dry climate, and learn about sustainable gardening practices such as composting, the use of water permeable walkways, and integrated pest management;
  • You have made it possible for more than 20,000 elementary school children, from over 125 different schools, participate in transformative educational programs each year;
  • There is a significant void in early childhood curriculum that stresses an environmental perspective and, with your help, we are working to fill that void with our preschool Nature Explorers program. Early childhood is the ideal time to shape environmental attitudes and values;
  • We regularly collaborate with environmental partners like the Audubon Society to offer educational wildlife programming;
  • With your help, in 2019 we will be renovating our Water Conservation Garden, our largest demonstration garden, and installing a new Firewise Demonstration Garden, to educate the community about protecting their homes from wildfire.

And to make lasting change, we must do even more. You can help us create new, even better ways to engage more people with the natural world.

It is only thanks to the support of people like you that The Gardens at Heather Farm has been able to achieve so much. The need for loving stewardship of our environment is greater than ever. Won’t you please help us by making a gift that will enable us to do even more to help people fall in love with nature?

Best wishes to you and your family for the festive season and a happy and healthy New Year.

With gratitude,
Joan Lucchese
Executive Director

YES! I will support The Gardens and help preserve nature!
DONATE NOW

FREE Guided Garden Walk, Saturday, 12/8!

Invest time in yourself this holiday season! Give yourself a gift that helps decrease stress hormones while boosting your immune system. Join Corey Chan, a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, on a free guided forest bathing walk through the gardens. By intentionally slowing down and tuning into your senses, you will connect with the garden, and possibly yourself, in a whole new way.

FREE. Limited space available. Designed for adults, but may be appropriate for older children. Advanced registration via email required; please include your name, phone number, and the number of participants.

Free Guided Garden Walk
Saturday, December 8 @ 10:00 a.m.
Meet at The Gardens at Heather Farm
1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Join us this Saturday for the free Garden Walk!
Sign Up

Teddy Bear Tea is HERE! Check out our FAQ for attendees…

Teddy Bear Tea FAQ

We can’t believe it’s finally here! Teddy Bear Tea is THIS WEEKEND, 11/30 through 12/2, and we’re very excited to see everyone for this amazing fundraising event for The Gardens!

The crowd this year is going to be larger than ever before, and since many of the event attendees are joining us for the first time, we thought we’d share a little “Q&A” to help fill you in on what to do and what to expect. If you have any other questions not addressed here, don’t hesitate to reach out via email or phone (925) 947-1678.

Q: Where is the event?

A: Teddy Bear Tea takes place at The Gardens at Heather Farm at 1540 Marchbanks Drive in Walnut Creek. The Gardens at Heather Farm is NOT part of Heather Farm Park; it is adjacent to the park and has its own entrance on Marchbanks Drive. The tea party location is inside the building next to the parking lot at The Gardens.

Q: Where can I park and do I have to pay?

A: A free parking lot on site at the venue holds up to 50 vehicles. If the lot is full, free street parking is available along Marchbanks Drive.

Q: When should I arrive?

A: Assuming no unexpected delays, doors will open 15 minutes prior to the scheduled event start time. Keep in mind, there is no rush for seats — your seats are secured and your tables already assigned, so they’ll be waiting for you whenever you get here.

Q: Where will I sit at the tea party?

A: All ticketed guests have been pre-assigned seats at one of 15 dining tables by our event staff. Each table seats 10 guests. Seating has been finalized and cannot be changed at this point. Groups who requested to sit together in advance have been accommodated to the best of our ability. When you arrive, find your and your guests’ names on the printed seating board in front of the venue to find your table number.

Q: What will I eat?

A: Each day of Teddy Bear Tea features a different menu provided by one of our three catering sponsors. Menus are a blend of traditional tea items and modern favorites served as a buffet (parents/grandparents may need to help their little ones hold plates and grab items while going through the buffet line). All menus feature a combination of sandwiches, savories (such as quiche, frittata and cocktail dogs), fruit, veggies and cheese, plus the ever-popular sweet items such as cupcakes, cookies and scones. Items served may contain wheat, dairy, egg, soy, and nuts.

Q: What other items will be for sale and how can I pay?

A: The Teddy Bear Tea Boutique sells a variety of plush bears (small, medium and large sizes), bear clothes, handmade jewelry, and the immensely popular ribbon halos. Pricing on these items ranges from $3 to $20. Raffle tickets are also available for purchase. These tickets will give you and your child a chance to win one of the amazing Grand Prizes, which include Disneyland tickets, American Girl dolls, a Date Night basket and a Movie Night basket, as well as a gingerbread house and prize baskets for children containing toys, books and crafts. Raffle tickets are sold 5-for-$10 (regular prize baskets) or 5-for-$20 (Grand Prizes). We accept cash and credit card.

Q: What’s the itinerary?

A: The first order of business after your arrival should be taking your keepsake photo downstairs in Bearland. This photo can be of your child, you and your child, or your child and their friends, whatever you like. Our professional photographer will be on hand to take the photo and will print it out later for you to take home. There may be a line to wait for photos, and we kindly ask for your patience as we work to get everyone through the photo process. After taking your photo, you’ll return to the tea party room and start browsing the Boutique and the Raffle Prizes. The buffet will be open and you may eat at your own pace (but it may be a challenge to get kids away from the raffle tables to focus on food!). Tea (decaffeinated) will be poured at your table by our volunteers. Juice and water will also be available. After guests have enjoyed food/drinks and purchased plenty of raffle tickets, we’ll draw the raffle winners and hand out the prize baskets. Grand Prize winners won’t be announced at the event; winners of these items will be contacted at the end of the weekend by phone. Once the prize baskets have been handed out, the children (and some grown-ups) will go back downstairs to Bearland for story time. A volunteer story teller will read a children’s favorite. Kids will also have an opportunity to decorate the photo frame which holds the keepsake photo and grab a goody bag. Guests will come back upstairs, munch on another cookie or two, collect their things and then depart.

Q: When does the event end?

A: Things usually wind down after about 90 minutes, when some guests depart, and all guests are cleared from the venue after two hours.

Discovering the Garden: Last Session of Nature Explorers for 2018

Oh, my, how time flies! It’s been a tremendous year out the garden with the little ones, and we can’t believe we’re now in our FINAL session for the year of our weekly preschool program, Nature Explorers.

Earlier this year, we learned about conservation, birds, marine biology, bugs, and habitats in California. Dozens of preschoolers explored the natural world around us through interactive presentations, activities and outdoor play.

Running now through November 20, Session Six of Nature Explorers is one of our favorite themes, all about “Discovering the Garden.” We’ll explore flowers and plant anatomy, trees, pumpkins and gourds, rocks and minerals, vegetables and herbs, and the ever-mysterious fungi!

Full session registration is closed, but you can drop in to any of the weekly sessions.

Tuesday mornings, 10-11:30am now through 11/20
Drop in to a class!

Teddy Bear Tea Coming 11/30 thru 12/2!

Get ready, everyone! It’s Teddy Bear Tea time again! The 23rd Annual Teddy Bear Tea, a popular holiday event that has become an annual tradition for thousands of local families over the past two decades, will feature FIVE seatings this year starting the afternoon of Friday, November 30 and ending in the afternoon on December 2. Links to buy tickets are posted below and on the Facebook event page.

​Just a heads-up: The volume of interest in this year’s event is enormous, and unfortunately, there will not be enough space for everyone to attend. There will be a waiting list for those who aren’t able to secure seats right away. To add your name to the waiting list, call (924) 947-1678.

We can’t wait to share this awesome holiday event with you!

23rd Annual Teddy Bear Tea
Friday, November 30, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
TICKETS: $40 adults | $30 children

Teddy Bear Tea 2018 is Coming!
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Volunteers lend a helping hand building Community Garden

Three cheers for helping hands! Box-building for the Community Garden is nearly finished thanks to outstanding work by local volunteers, including a group from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Helpers of all ages have been gathering on Saturday mornings this summer with drills and hammers (and lots of ice water to beat the heat!) to build up to 80 raised beds, including several that are ADA-accessible, for growing plants. Slowly but surely, the hillside at the back of our property behind the new Greenhouse is turning into a thriving community resource and gathering space for Walnut Creek residents. Next up on the docket: Irrigation and landscaping. Isn’t that exciting? More details about securing garden beds for your family to be announced soon!

Learn more about the Community Garden project
Click here

Explore Habitats of California in Nature Explorers Session 5!

With gorgeous scenery, beautiful weather, and lots to do outdoors, it’s no secret we live in a pretty awesome state for nature lovers! California’s rich and diverse landscapes also make excellent habitats for an exciting array of plant and animal life. Next month, our popular preschool program, Nature Explorers, kicks off a session all about Habitats in California.

Learn about ponds, rivers, caves, deserts, forests, and coasts and salt marshes Tuesday mornings 9/4 to 10/9 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Full course $80-100; drop-in $15-$20 per child per class.

Join us for Session 5 of Nature Explorers
Register Now

Large grant from Andeavor Foundation expands natural science education

Since 1987, The Gardens at Heather Farm’s children’s environment education program has taught nature-based science principles in local schools. In the 2017-2018 school year, our amazing teaching team taught our Natural Science Classroom curriculum to over 20,000 K-7 students in over 120 schools in Contra Costa County. It is with a great deal of gratitude that we wish to acknowledge Andeavor Foundation for a very significant grant for the 2018-2019 school year, which will allow us to expand our programming to include an additional 6,000 local students! The funding will also allow us to replace aging teaching kits and supplement our curriculum with exciting new technology. This is a tremendous gift to our local schools, and we are grateful to Andeavor Foundation for their support.

Explore the world of the Natural Science Classroom
Learn More

Be cool with JAZZ in the garden on Sunday, September 9

Swing, bop, blues and bossa on a Sunday afternoon! It’s the second show in our new Concerts in the Garden series, as Bay Area bassist and band leader, Tom Lilienthal, brings sensational jazz vocalist, Jennifer Lee, and an all-star quartet to showcase lively jazz tunes sure to get you grooving. You’ll enjoy two sets of classic jazz standards and engaging originals by some of the Bay Area’s best talent in a stunning outdoor atmosphere.

The concert starts promptly at 5:00 p.m. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. Bring a blanket and picnic dinner to enjoy al fresco before or after the show!

Proceeds from the Concerts in the Garden series support The Gardens at Heather Farm’s nonprofit programs.

Concerts in The Garden:
Tom Lilienthal & Friends with Jennifer Lee

Sunday, September 9 at 5:00 p.m.
Tickets: $40 General Admission / $20 Students
Members of The Gardens have access to a VIP seating section!​
Don’t miss jazz with Tom Lilienthal & Friends on 9/9!
GET TICKETS

Community Garden work in progress!

Let’s give a cheer for progress, folks! Thanks to outstanding effort from the Mormon Helping Hands and other community volunteers, we’re more than half-way done building the planter beds that will make up our Community Garden site. The hillside at the back of our property behind the new Greenhouse will soon hold up to 80 raised beds available for Walnut Creek residents to rent annually. Isn’t that exciting?

Made of recycled, food grade plastic, the garden beds will be irrigated to make for easy watering. Most of the boxes will be 4′ x 12′ plus a few smaller and three ADA accessible for those with special needs, and we hope to have all 80 beds in place by the end of summer.

If you’re interested in participating in the box construction or working on the community garden project, please contact Joan Lucchese, Executive Director, at 925-947-0571 or joan@gardenshf.org.

More details about the Community Garden program, such as membership, rates and rules, will be announced soon. There is a waiting list to secure a plot in our garden, and you can add your name to the waiting list.

In the meantime, start gathering ideas for winter plants you can drop in your Community Garden bed later this year!