The Alamedan: Ploughshares closes in on a decade at the Point, December 9, 2014


Dating back to the last two centuries, Alameda’s history has included farmers who worked the land. At Ploughshares Nursery, that history has come full circle.

The nursery, a nonprofit social enterprise of the Alameda Point Collaborative that fronts on the Main Street edge of Alameda Point, will celebrate a decade of providing on-the-job training to collaborative residents and plants and gardening advice to Alamedans, in 2015. And it’s halfway to finishing a new, sustainable education and retail center due to open in 2016.

I’d blindly driven past the Main Street nursery several times on the way to take the ferry into San Francisco. But I was curious enough about Ploughshares last week that I finally visited, and I was really impressed with what I saw.

The nursery describes itself as a social enterprise of the collaborative, and all of its sales proceeds support housing for formerly homeless families. It also helps Alameda by selling energy-conscious products that protect and improve our environment, using recycled materials whenever possible and creating job training and employment opportunities and skills for collaborative residents.

Ploughshares is indeed far more than just “a place selling plants.” Its operation includes a large farm that grows all sorts of vegetables, fruit, succulents, plants, shrubs and much more; its managers use sustainable growing methods that include using organic soil and fertilizers like NEEM and hot pepper oils.