The Gardens of Berkeley

A recent trip to the Bay Area brought us to our favorite backyard farm: Uncle Rich's in Berkeley. Corn, beans, tomatoes (red and yellow, big and small), onions (sweet as candy when grilled), leeks, lettuce, strawberries (Nusia definitely picked and ate those), pears, apples, asparagus, kiwi fruit (that's right), sweet peppers, hot peppers, potatoes. And more.
Rich's backyard breadbasket was/is one of the key inspirations for me to try growing food. But whereas my novice attempts are sometimes successful, in small ways, Rich brings about some serious YIELDS. Dinners at Karen and Rich's are full of the tastiest veggies you could hope for.
You might like to make fun of Berkeley. And, don't get me wrong, it's fun. They do wear their hearts on their bumper stickers up there. Is there dramatic segregation and inequality, as in all American cities? Yes. But they also have beautiful flower gardens instead of lawns, and vegetables growing in what seems to be every other yard. Big old grand trees line the streets. The early-20th century houses are the anti-Irvine.
And bikes. Bicycles are just part of life in Berkeley. Normal people (not bike geeks) ride bicycles to get from point A to point B. Bike geeks abound. Bike paths abound. Signs indicating bike-friendly streets abound. It ain't L.A.
So make fun of Berkeley. I might, too. But we sophisticated Angelenos have a couple of things to learn from our statemates.

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