Before you know it, we’ll be off to a new year and ready for something new and different. For self-improvement classes that support the environment, consider these fun and educational workshops lined up for 2017. Hosted by Sustainable Contra Costa, Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center, and the City of Pittsburg, a wide variety of topics on sustainability appeals to many interests. If you’re stumped on what to give friends and family for the holidays, they make great gifts too. You can register now!

Maybe you are ready to plant some new fruit trees or berry plants in your yard. The Fruit Trees & Berries workshop, at two locations, Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center in Pleasant Hill (January 16) and Pittsburg Environmental Center (February 18), teaches you how to choose, prep, plant, prune and maintain fruit trees. Want to save more water more efficiently in the continuing drought? We’ll teach you how to install a drip system in Drip Irrigation 101 (February 18). And if you’d like to go beyond the shower bucket, Water-Smart Living  (July 20) provides details on low flow fixtures and appliances, tankless water heaters, greywater systems, rain catchment methods, lawn replacement with sheet mulching, and more. The hands-on Greywater Installation (May 13) workshop at a private residence demonstrates how to divert water from laundry to landscape so you can do-it-yourself back home. Non-Toxic Gardening (March 11) is a great pick for learning about healthy soil, choosing plants, and creating habitats for beneficial insects without chemicals.


Don’t miss Backyard Beekeeping (March 16), when an expert from the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers’ Association teaches us all about the biology and benefits of bees, what equipment to use, and more. If chickens are more your speed but you’re not sure how to get started, attend Backyard Chickens (March 25) and learn all about starting chicks, feeding and housing chickens, and even their benefits to your garden. For apartment/condo dwellers or those with small garden spaces, learn tips on growing and making container fruit and veggie gardens thrive at Gardening in Containers and Small Spaces (April 8). Those with larger gardens or bountiful produce may appreciate the workshop on canning or pickling for year-round rewards at Home Canning (September 21). New this year is Make It, Don’t Buy It: DIY Condiments & Sauces (June 15), a workshop on making condiments and sauces for mouth-watering accompaniments to summer bbqs and picnics.


Stressed out and need a fresh start? Check out Seasonal Living in Sync With Nature (April 1) and learn how to get your life back in balance. Along that vein, if it’s time to show your inner pack rat the door, sign up for Home in Harmony (May 18) and learn how to de-clutter your home as well as your mental state for relief from too much “stuff.” (Insider tips on recycling included!) After clearing out all those expired (and possibly toxic) toiletries, learn how to make natural beauty products without harmful (and expensive) chemicals in Kitchen Cosmetics (August 17). 


For those of you seeking in-depth immersion into permaculture, don’t miss Marian Woodard’s 8-part Permaculture Series (Saturdays, February 4 – March 25) at Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center. Marian, a master gardener, teaches you how to consider all your yard elements and take an ethically responsible, earth-centered, community-based approach to successful organic gardening.


For more information on registration, cost, locations, and other details on these workshops, go to Make 2017 a year of renewal and try something new!

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