Movement & Sound Books & Writing Social Activism Quiltmaking

Urban Gardens
Rural Garden
Labyrinth (Soil Restoration)
Straw Bale Construction


1. Urban Gardens

University of California

When Daily Bread grew vegetables at the University of California, Oxford Garden Tract, right in the center of town, student volunteers joined Daily Bread as gardeners.

Weeding the Beans


Potting Seedlings

 Schoolyard Garden

Using an unsolicited yearly grant from 'Share Our Strength' (SOS), we have helped the Malcolm X School integrate a schoolyard garden into its curriculum.

Kindergarteners re-enacting a scene from the Russian folktale "The Turnip"



 Food for Thought AIDS Food Bank Garden

With the SOS grant, we supported the Food For Thought AIDS Food Bank Garden in Sonoma County. This horticultural therapy garden is sponsored by the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center and provides produce to the clients as well as welcoming clients to help maintain the garden, harvest its produce, or use the space for quiet meditation.


UA Homes Garden

The parking lot behind UA Homes, a residence for formerly homeless people, was oil-soaked and strewn with debris. Along with residents and community volunteers, we tore up the pavement and created a backyard garden.

Tearing up the pavement...

...and a garden blooms!


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2. Rural Garden

Shenoa Mandala Garden

For the seven years the Shenoa Retreat Center was in operation, Daily Bread helped design and sponsored a one-acre mandala garden that grew produce and flowers for the hungry as well as for the Shenoa community. As a demonstration garden, it included: a teaching program for garden interns; public tours; seed-saving; heirloom varieties; and a space for rituals.

Shenoa garden in Mendocino County

Head Gardener Sara McCamant with first radishes of first season

Summer Bounty

Fields of Flowers

Autumn Garden


Garden Path by Straw-Bale garden shed

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3. Labyrinth (Soil Restoration)

The Medicinal Plant Labyrinth

     In the winter of 1964, severe flooding in Northern California left some valley land scoured down to bedrock. On one such property, the pit was used for ten years as a dumping ground for Mendocino County landslide debris – rock, rubble, clay and the occasional old tire. In the year 2000, we were given permission to try and restore one acre of a friend's land to fertility.

For two years we brought in truckloads of organic matter - hay, straw, wood chips, manure, leaves, spent hops - and let it mulch. Then, with the help of geomancer Richard Feather Anderson, we shaped the composting soil into a one-acre labyrinth garden. In 2003, we planted it with native, drought-resistant, deer-resistant medicinal herbs.

Steaming Mulch

Choosing the Site

Shaping the Mounds

Shaping the Paths

Laying Woodchips on Paths

Our idea was to use healing plants to mirror the healing of the land. The plants that have thrived are:

Comfrey, St. John’s Wort; Motherwort; Lemon Balm; Lavender; Rosemary; Sages; Mullein; Penstemon; California poppy; Echinacea; Sunflower; Foxglove; Thyme; Chamomile; Borage; Feverfew; Mugwort; Yarrow; Pennyroyal; Plantain; Fennel; Horehound; Calendula.


Ready for Planting!

First Season

Second Season


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3. StrawBale Construction

    Rice farmers in California have traditionally burned their straw, but air pollution laws have changed that in the last decade. Since rice straw decomposes very slowly, the farmers were left with acres of waste straw - until alternative builders began to design houses made of bales of straw.

With our hearts in our mouth, we decided to build one at the Shenoa Retreat Center property. My family offered to fund it.

Our goal was to build a gorgeous prototype of a small, load-bearing rice-straw house, see it through the permit process and successfully change the county building code.

Yes, that first prototype cost twice what we thought it would and yes, it was a long and difficult process but in the end it was built - and more beautiful than we could have imagined.

It was also one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever been part of. Now, less than 15 years later, strawbale building is commonplace almost everywhere.



The straw arrives!

Bob Theis, architect

Gary drilling rebar in


Two Days Later

West Side Stuccoed


Willow-wattle stairway to loft

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