Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Many Benefits of Chayote

From root to fruit to shoot, Chayote is an edible that adds versatility to permaculture landscapes.  A native from mexico, and a member of the gourd family, Chayote is known by many names as it has migrated across the globe and into many diverse culinary dishes.  Some call it Cho-Cho, some Sayote, and some know it by the name Merleton just to name a few.  There are as many ways to cook it as there are names.

For a great selection of recipes, check out Chayote recipes at Pinterest.  Just recently we harvested some shoots from the Art City garden and used them freshly chopped in a green salad with purslane, mustard greens, arugula, and young endive leaves.  These greens were tossed in a yogurt garlic onion dressing with fresh cracked pepper and lemon juice.  Excellent and healthy!

Chayote is easy to grow in our local climate.  Perfect for trellising over border fences, the pear shaped fruit hangs from heart shaped leaves and curling shoots.  Grow Chayote!  It adds a tasty vertical element to your garden.

photo by: Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên cc-by-sa

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Be Prepared for El Nino and the California Drought

Weather forecasters, NASA scientists, and the old time farmer's almanac are all saying the same thing--California should get more than average rainfall this winter.  Are you prepared?

Now is the time to install rainwater barrels, mulch existing garden beds, build compost piles, and plant your winter veggies.  All of these action steps help conserve water.  Simple and effective ways to help yourself and the environment.

You're not alone--We can help!  Ventura Cooperative is offering an "El Nino Winter Garden Package" which includes FREE Rainbarrel Installations with the purchase of:

  • 1 yard organic mulch
  • 5 cu. ft. VCoop's living soil amendments
  • 6 Six-packs seasonal veggie starts
  • 3 gallons VCoop's Actively Aerated Compost Tea
This $299.00 service is a great way to prepare for winter rains, grow your own food, and transition to organic and sustainable yard maintenance.

Call us now to schedule your "El Nino Winter Garden Package" before the next rain!

(805) 765-1892
or e-mail us at

Visit the Climate Prediction Center for more El Nino details.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RRFMVTA Really Really Free Market Ventura

Ventura's 2nd Annual Really Really Free Market is happening November 1st in Plaza Park, Downtown Ventura, from Noon to 5pm.  The "bring what you can, take what you need" culture uses no cash uses no barter or trade.  Everything is free.  Skill sharing and workshops happen in a sort of self organized fashion.  Bike fixing repair shops, Time Banks, solar ovens, knitting, and monster jams are just a few of the activities you wander upon as folks mingle and mix around piles of clothes and other DIY type goodies.

See you There!

Leave no Trace Event--(pack it in, pack it out)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Winter Garden Compost Tea and Soil Amendments

October is the time to plant for your winter garden, to prepare the soil for spring planting, and to build rainwater collection systems.  We can help you go green for your family and the planet.  Give us call and place your orders now.  We'll get you in the cue for organic supplements and hands on implementation!  Harvard University switched over, so the science is tested and true, organics rule!
Call us today for a quote.
(805) 765-1892

Friday, September 5, 2014

People's Climate March Ventura

Sunday, September 21, people of all ages will march in solidarity with the March in NYC calling on world leaders to take action against global warming. 

Schedule (Subject to Change)
8:00 AM Breakfast at Ventura City Corps
8:30 AM Live Telecast of NYC People's Climate March 
10:00 AM Rally at Ventura City Hall
11:00 AM March to ventura pier
1:00 PM March Back to Ventura City Corps for lunch
2:00 PM Free Film Screening: "Disruption"
3:00 Climate Workshop
5:00 Open Mic
6:00 Dinner
7:00 March to 101 overpass for Overpass Light Brigade

facebook event page event page:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grow Your Own! A Wicking Bed Tutorial

Recently our friend Kate needed some worms for a worm farm she helped start with Todd at the Binkley Healing Center.  She messaged Ventura Cooperative on facebook, we connected, and we set up a time for her to come pick up a box of red wrigglers.  While she was with us, she talked about her project with Todd growing food on the balcony.  Sweet news!  More folks growing their own!  Even the news about how they're doing it.  They built and planted three wicking beds.

Wicking beds are a great way to save water and grow your own food! Check out the video above from activists feeding their community with food and knowledge.

Kate then invited us to a presentation Todd was doing the next day for his custom designed, handmade, water saving new raised beds.  Of course I went and was pleasantly surprised to see how intensely involved Kate and Todd are with growing their own food-- with sustainable and organic means.  They did a great job documenting the process.  The presentation was informative and inspiring.  Plus I like the color purple!  (they painted the beds purple ;-)

Our friend Jim Mangis came to the meet-up as well.  Come to find out, he helped Kate and Todd get started with plants and soil from his local business Good Tilth Organic Nursery.  Jim makes his own excellent compost mix.  He spoke about soil, I got the chance to practice a 30sec pitch for our Actively Aerated Compost Tea, and Todd talked about wicking beds.  Win-win-win!

So thanks to Kate and Todd for stepping up and implementing a program to grow their own food in a way that fits their needs and lifestyle.  Anybody can do it, and at Ventura Cooperative, we're here to help you out!

Related Links:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Add Purslane to Your Edible Landscape

One of the best gifts of gardening is discovering that a plant you once thought was a weed, is really a integral part of your edible landscape.  Purslane is at the top of this list when it come to garden uses, nutritional value and culinary versatility. 

Purslane's growing habit makes it a good alternative to lawns or other ground covers.  A study conducted by the University of Connecticut concluded that the plant is effective at organically controlling weeds.  Purslane acts as a "living mulch." In the category of nutrition, the University of Texas at San Antonio finds Purslane contains 10 to 20 times more melatonin, an antioxidant, than any other fruit or vegetable they tested. more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source in the solar system, and an extraordinary amount for a plant, some 8.5 mg for every gram of weight.  Purslane also contians:
  • vitamin A, B, C 
  • six times more E than spinach
  • beta carotene, seven times more of that than carrots
  • magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate, lithium, and iron 
  • and has 2.5% protein per serving.
What about flavor?  Purslanes's taste has a subtle green flair of vitality, so it’s a great addition to many recipes.  We've been eating it raw with Green Zebra tomatoes, goat cheese in pita bread!  Tossed in salads with a cucumber yogurt dressing, it's a crowd pleaser.  Really, it's difficult to understate Purslane's attributes.

This fantastic “weed” is virtually underfoot everywhere, from Ventura to NYC, but most US residents don't know it's there.  So keep an eye out for it.  We're cultivating in our gardens from volunteers we found, and from a few cuttings Ron at Rincon Vitova gave us.  By this time next year, we'll have a living mulch cover crop that sustains many levels of the Soil Food Web, humans included! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Green Thumb Compost Tea Workshop

There is a buzz brewing around compost tea in Ventura these days, mainly due to the efforts permaculture advocates David White of the Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Ron Whitehurst of Rincon Vitova.  Because of these two soil revolutionaries, we've been able to build a momentum that brought 30+ folks together at Green Thumb Nursery for a hands on compost tea workshop.
We set up two microscopes, brought soil building and permaculture books and manuals, handouts, and a few attendees went home with a gallon of tea teeming with microbial life.  Samples of local soil allowed people to see and smell the difference between the tired soil of industrial farms and the super soil of living compost.

We were excited!  Most everyone attending had active compost piles in their backyards, but few had attempted making actively aerated compost tea.  This is why these workshops are so important.  The connections we make create a network of shared knowledge and experience.

Just like the connections in the life of the soil food web, we're better when we're feeding each other.  So come out and grow with us.  Actively Aerated Compost Tea is brewing with potential.  Over the next few months we'll be building measuring and adapting our knowledge of the science and the art of AACT.

Ventura Coop can deliver AACT to you directly, or help you establish your own brewing system.  Contact us at 805.765.1892 for more information.

Related Links:
Ojai CRA, Dr. David White
Rincon Vitova, Ron Whitehurst
Soil Food Web, Elaine Ingham


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ventura Coop Glassware! Made in the USA

Check out these VCoop custom logo's imprinted on made in the USA glass apothecary and mason jars!  You may have seen them around town.


The 22 oz. apothecary jar comes with a liquid tight lid, and is good for iced drinks, infused oils,  or storing seeds.  Our 16oz. mason jar is the classic jar, versatile and stands the test of time.

We're proud to make this glassware available locally at the Refill Shoppe, the Ventura Visitor's Center and Palermo Coffee Shop.  If you'd like to order through us, send us an e-mail and we'll set you up. 805.765.1892

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Compost Tea: Life Under The Microscope

After attending the Center For Regenerative Agriculture's workshop on compost tea with Elaine Ingham as the featured speaker, we're totally geeking out on the science behind compost tea.

It is amazing to see life under the microscope.  Microbes swimming, spinning and squirming around pieces of fungal strands and small pieces of debris.  It's a moving universe of activity.

Soon we'll be posting pictures of what we find down there.  Though we're being scientific about our approach to brewing tea, we're still trusting our sense of smell and touch.  Organic gardening is a perfect blend of head, heart, and nose.

Come see us at the 4th of July street fair, or at the Ventura County Fair.  Or call us at 805.765.1892.  We've got some in the brewer for you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Plants Love Ventura Cooperative Compost Tea

This is one of the gardens we watered with compost tea.  Gerardo Gallegos asked us to come and apply 40 gallons of our actively aerated tea on all his new plantings.  He remembers when this oasis was an untended lot.  His work is amazing!

Compost tea has so many positive attributes.  We use it in all of our gardening projects.  Learn more about it here:

We have the best clients and garden partners on the planet!  We played with McCartney in his back yard, took pictures, talked about community gardens and watered the earth with approximately 69,578,463,376,002 beneficial organisms.

See you again soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Edible Landscape for Rosie and Macks

On Saturday we helped Rosie and Macks get a good start in their backyard garden.  We prepared late into the night before, putting finishing touches on the vertical gardens and mixing soil. When we made our morning delivery of compost and mulch, Rosie was ready with coffee and pastries.  Yeah!  All throughout the day we worked together, DIY style, planting, mulching and designing a garden that will have room to grow in the future.  This is why we do what we do.

Saturday was a windy day, which was perfect in a way, because we wanted to know how the vertical pallet gardens would respond to heavy gusts, as they were hanging approximately three feet down off the eves of the garage roof.  It worked well.  The pallets were heavy enough to withstand the wind, and they added the extra color Rosie wanted in front of the open wall.  Later, Audra and Rosie placed a variety of herbs, flowers and edibles in the grow boxes.  We accomplished what we set out to do, and we were all happy with the installation.

Macks built a raised bed (complete with wire gopher proofing) and we filled with a layer of rough compost, and then top amended with a custom mix of Venture Cooperative compost, worm castings and coco mulch.  In that mix we planted heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, kale, and zucchini, and then watered with compost tea.

We also mulched the border gardens and garden work area, outlining sections with locally sourced rocks, making a the garden come alive in the moment.  Already new ideas about what to do next were being dreamed up.

Not only did we begin a beautiful new backyard garden with Rosie and Macks, more importantly, we began a new friendship.  We're looking forward to working with them again soon and taking it to the next level.  Until then, Keep Growing!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grow Your Own: A Raised Bed and Tower Garden Experiment

Soil or aeroponics?  Why choose?  There are advantages to both.  In Daniel's case he is running an experiment in his front yard to see which one he likes best.  

As spring begins and the planting starts, he has two systems of growing.  One, a raised bed he designed and the other a tower garden that is a pilot system for a school gardening program.  In each system he plans to produce a yield that will provide healthy meals for his family.

Originally, the plan was to build the raised bed in the back yard, high enough off the ground so that he could work standing up.  The direct sunlight was better in the front yard, and because of that we trimmed some hedge and built it by the driveway.  By converting a sprinkler head into a bubbler irrigation system the bed is now watered on a timer.  

Daniel was also gifted a tower garden to experiment with as a pilot project for a local school's gardening program.  This is a perfect opportunity to see side by side how different grow systems work.  The tower garden is a soil-less system.  The nutrients are carried to the plant roots by an oxygenated water system the pumps water to the top of the tower from a storage basin at the bottom.  It is on a 15 min on/off timer.  

Placed side by side in the front yard, these two systems are going to provide an excellent opportunity to measure the success of two different grow styles.  Ventura Cooperative is happy to help Daniel as he endeavors to grow his own food.  Permaculture begins here, front yard gardening!

Learn more about Tower Gardens here.  

For more information contact Ventura Cooperative at:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ventura Cooperative Brings White Sage to NH

Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't.  "Live Free and DIY" is on the Ventura Cooperative logo. It's our version of the famous New Hampshire "Live Free or Die" state motto. In honor of this connection, we brought white sage to the granite state as the start of our coast to coast trading initiative.

White sage is hand gathered and native to California.  Hard to get in New Hampshire. What's difficult to fine in California--small batch locally produced maple syrup. That's where Ventura Cooperative comes in. We're building NH-CA trade partnerships to support locally made goods in both states.

Danbury General Store received our first delivery of white sage. It's a family run business with lot's of locally produced goods. The store is located right next to Ragged Mountian Ski Area.  Be sure to stop in and check out what they have to offer. Look for more locally harvested items and products to be traded in the future.  Have suggestions?  Contact us here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

DIY Rainwater Collection Barrel

This is a great basic design for a economical and efficient rainwater collection system.  In Ventura, as in the rest of California, we are facing serious drought conditions.  You'd be surprised how much water comes off your roof in even the lightest rain.  You're handy?  DIY  You're not?  give us a call and we'll install it for you.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chipping Away at Permaculture

As our next step in creating a permaculture landscape in Ally's yard, we asked our friend Don to come over with his chipper to help with breaking down a huge pile of brush. Instead of having all the brush hauled off to the landfill, we decided to keep it onsite and use the resource for mulch and compost building.  It's part of our permaculture ethic, to close the loop and reuse as much as possible.

Don purchased the chipper with this is mind.  Whenever we have a need to chip up a bunch of organic debris, he is the person we call.  He's been helping neighbor's and friends since he started in his own backyard last summer.  It's a great piece of equipment for small to mid-size jobs.  Easily portable and economical, and makes really nice mulch.

Earlier in the week, our crew had cut down a volunteer pine tree and trimmed vines and hedges all around Ally's yard.  The trunk and some of the branches were too big to chip, so we cut them into lengths to be used as firewood.   Most of the rest of the branches we cleaned for mulching. The rest we lopped up into big compost piles.  After about 6 hours of work we had about 5 yards of rough compost and a dozen bags of fine mulch to be used in the yard.

Thanks Don!  Now we can move on to the next phase of Ally's edible landscape--building raised beds and compost bins.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mulch for California Drought

2013 was the driest year on record for California.  2014 is looking like it could continue to produce emergency drought conditions across the state.  As we prepare for our spring and summer gardens, water use is a major concern, and heavy mulching this year is a number one priority.

Ventura Cooperative Garden Services sources mulch locally, delivers and installs it for you as needed.  Keep the water in the soil around the roots of your plants.  By the truckload or by the bag (reclaimed and reused whenever possible.)  Get some compost or compost tea too.  Check out Vcoop's garden services menu here.