Getting to Know Our Local Creeks, Ponds and Waterways

A Free Educational Series for Adults and Children

The Gardens at Heather Farm and The City of Walnut Creek once again collaborate to present a free educational series on topics important to our watershed and the health of our community and environment. In contract to years past, many of our upcoming sessions feature presentations targeted at both adults and children. Parents are invited to bring their children to participate in activities specifically designed to engage younger audiences. Adults without children are welcome to attend the adult programs on their own. In addition to classes held at The Gardens, the program also features several local field trips to be enjoyed by all ages. All programs will be held at The Gardens at Heather Farm unless otherwise noted.

Enjoying Our Creeks

Native Plants, Native People

Where Does Food Come From?

Amazing Insects

Vegetable Gardening

Water & Wildlife

Free: Registration Required for All Programs
Register Now

LECTURE: Saturday, April 9th, 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Introduction to Our Local Waterways with Mike Carlson Adult
Learn about the largest watershed in Contra Costa County, Walnut Creek and all its tributaries. We’ll take you back to the 19th century and move forward into modern day, discussing the water around us and how we have changed this creek system. We will discuss past and current challenges related to maintaining our local watershed, flood control, the impacts of El Nino and long range plans for the future.
About Instructor Mike Carlson, Asst. Public Works Director, Contra Costa Flood Control & Water Conservation District: Born and raised in the Bay Area, Mike earned his Civil Engineering Degree from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. He is actively involved in statewide and regional flood/drainage/clean water issues. He enjoys his work for the County, but values his free time even more. He is married with three children.
Where Does Water Go After It Rains?  Boy
Kids will take part in a “mapping our watershed” activity, as well as engaging in making a model of an aquifer to help them better understand what happens to water as it soaks into the ground. Led by GHF Education Staff.

FIELD TRIP: Saturday, April 16
th, 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Water & Wildlife with GHF Education Staff  AdultChild
Our Education Team will be your guides as you learn about the life and health of the ecosystems. Participants will dip into our local creek and pond to investigate the hidden lives of some amazing plants and animals. Discover how these creatures adapt to underwater life, and learn how  to protect the health of aquatic habitats.
Location: Pond at Heather Farm Community Park. Park in the large parking lot along N. San Carlos Drive, just past the Heather Farm Community Center. We’ll gather in the grassy area next to the pond and begin our exploration.

WORKSHOP: Sunday, April 24
rd, 10:00-11:30 a.m. *NEW DATE*

Vegetable Gardening in a Changing Climate
Water-wise Tips for Backyard Vegetable Gardening in Very Warm Weather
with Lara Hermanson Adult
With the current drought in California, is growing your own vegetable garden a good idea? Absolutely! Spend time with Lara Hermanson, co-owner and Principal at Farmscape, LLC, California’s largest urban farming company as she takes you through soil prep, crop selection and garden planning for successful summer crops.
About Instructor Lara Hermanson, Farmscape, LLC: Lara’s lifelong love of farming began working on landscaping projects in Chicago with her mother. As a college student, she maintained the Russell T. Kirt Tallgrass Prairie Restoration in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where she specialized in propagating endangered plants. From there, she managed the 7 acre Vital Zuman farm in Malibu, CA. Since joining Farmscape in 2010, she has overseen the design and installation of over 300 urban farming projects. She has a B.A. from Columbia College and has recently completed a certificate in Project Management from UCLA extension. Lara has completed additional studies in Permaculture Design.
Where does Our Food Come From? with GHF Education Staff  Boy
Kids will discover parts of plants they’d find on their dinner table. And they’ll learn about which plants grow well during different times of the year while planning a seasonal veggie garden.

LECTURE: Saturday, May 7
th,  10:00-11:30 a.m.

Managing Pests: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with Tanya Drlik & Beth Baldwin Adult
Learn the impacts of traditional pest management methods and how to deal effectively with home and garden pests in a less-toxic way. Learn how to attract “good” bugs to your gardens to eliminate unwanted pests.  We’ll also discuss how pesticides affect our streams and creeks and how specific pest management techniques can help prevent harm to these surface waters.
About Instructors Tanya Drlik, Integrated Pest Management Contra Costa County & Beth Baldwin, Contra Costa Clean Water Program. Tanya Drlik has an M.S. in Ecosystem Management and has over 40 years of experience in the field of urban IPM. This experience includes working with municipal park and recreation departments in the Bay Area to implement IPM programs; providing IPM training for a wide variety of audiences from undergraduates and homeowners to professionals; and raising beneficial insects for release in urban biological control programs in the Bay Area. Tanya helped develop the Our Water, Our World Program that works with hardware stores and nurseries to promote IPM. As part of this project she has written 15 fact sheets on less toxic pest management for common pests. Beth Baldwin is a Watershed Management Planning Specialist with the Contra Costa Clean Water Program (CCCWP), a position she has held since August 2013. She provides assistance to municipalities subject to the Municipal Regional  and East Contra Costa Municipal Stormwater Permits. She holds a BA in Biology and a MS in Environmental Science. Prior to joining CCCWP, she was an assistant project manager with Civil & Environmental Consultants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, providing support in the area of environmental compliance and permitting. She also has worked as an environmental specialist with the State of Virginia’s Department of Health and Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department.
Native Plants/Native People with GHF Education Staff  Boy
With artifacts, games, stories, and crafts, our Education team will bring the past alive for kids to discover how the first Californians used native plants in their everyday lives. Young attendees will also learn various methods to conserve water in their homes and environment.

FIELD TRIP: Sunday, May 15th,  10:00-12:30 p.m.

Discover Walnut Creek’s Watershed with Carol Lane, Save Mt. Diablo  AdultChild
Join us for a guided hike showcasing Lime Ridge. A century ago, Lime Ridge supplied some of the lime and sand needed for California’s industrial expansion. Today, it is a nature preserve for rare plants and animals with plenty of hiking and bike trails, but you can still see the scars of quarries and the remains of railroad equipment used by the Henry Cowell Lime and Cement company to carry limestone to its plant in Cowell, which is now the Crossings neighborhood in Concord. For this four-mile hike with 700 feet of elevation gain, and be sure to dress in layers and wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots. Bring plenty of water and a snack.
Location: Montecito Trail Head and Staging Area, Lime Ridge Open Space, southwest corner of Ygnacio Valley Road and Cowell Road/Montecito Drive. Directions: From I-680, head east on Ygnacio Valley Rd, then turn right on Montecito Drive. The parking lot at the trailhead is immediately on the right.

WORKSHOP: Saturday, May 21
st, 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Healthy Soil in Your Home Garden with Marian Woodard  Adult
This workshop will cover the basics of backyard composting, worm composting, mulching and grasscycling, with time for problem solving and Q&A. Also, learn why we want to compost and how to do it effectively.
About Instructor Marian Woodard, Recyclesmart: Marian is an avid composter and vermicomposter at her townhome and community garden. She received her Master Gardener certificate in 2011 and started a 3000 sq-ft community garden that features both worms and multiple compost bins. Navlet’s “Gardener of the Year” in 2014, Marian is a frequent speaker on the gardening circuit, and loves getting people of all ages excited about how easy it is to help the Earth by increasing the health and yield of soil and plants.
Peek into the Amazing World of Insects.with GHF Education Staff  Boy
Kids will peek into the amazing world of insects, the most successful life form on the planet. Young entomologists will observe and handle (if they want to) live creatures to experience a bug’s life. They’ll learn about creature features, and how many of those creatures can be great allies in the garden. Young ones will also make family and garden friendly pest control potions that they can use to control other unwanted pests in their gardens.


Adult = Adult portion of the program          AdultChild = Adult & Child together program      Boy = Child portion of the program