Alameda Journal: Ploughshares Nursery, of Alameda, to build new ecocenter, January 20, 2012


For Ploughshares Nursery, the medium truly is the message. The huge, weeded mound that stands between the nursery and Alameda Point Collaborative's urban farm on the former Navy base will soon be leveled to make way for a new, sustainable education and retail center, and the dirt that otherwise would be hauled away will instead fill earth bags that will be used to construct the building.

Made possible by grants from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, the Yahoo! Employees Foundation and the City of Alameda, the new 2,500-square-foot ecostructure will be a living demonstration of green building and growing techniques, says Jocelyn Bentley-Prestwich, Ploughshares' general manager. It will feature straw bale and earth bag construction, a living roof, rainwater catching and reuse systems, and solar power cells.

"We want to use resources that we already have on the land," Bentley-Prestwich said. "We've got great sun, great wind and all that earth. We just need to harness them." The new building will use solar panels that will "tie into a conventional electrical system and will allow the building to offset any conventional electricity used," said Andrea Schorr, APC's social enterprise director.