Written by Linda Riebel of Sustainable Lafayette, based on an interview with Manager, Shelley diGiovanna (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Acalanes Apartments comprises 5 buildings at the top of Risa Road, not far from the reservoir. The owners’ green consciousness was already high when they erected the first building 40 years ago – around a living tree!
I went to visit the “community garden,” which is in its third year, planted by then-new manager Shelley diGiovanna. Terraces climb the slope and are planted with beans, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, peppers, eggplant, artichokes, and herbs. The tenants – let’s call them members of the community – can help with weeding and watering, and get a share of the harvest as a reward. A compost bin at the garden site welcomes members’ food scraps and generates rich soil. A wooden bench strategically located under a tree offers a shady place for gardeners to rest.
Fruit trees have been planted – orange, guava, lemon, lime, plum, persimmon, and apricot. Just what Urban Farmers would applaud! Tenants harvest what they can reach. Then the manager gathers the higher-hanging fruit and puts it in a basket for tenants to help themselves.
A small group of chickens live here, too, which will be the focus of some children’s education for Temple Isaiah next door. As with the garden, members can help out in exchange for local and humanely raised eggs. In June 2012, the chickens of Acalanes Apartments were moved next door to Temple Isaiah, which had the proper zoning. Read article…
A creek runs alongside, and rock gardens and tasteful plants can be found beside the buildings. The swimming pool can be covered with floating plastic circles called “solar rings” to keep the water warm overnight. These rings (each about 5 feet across and light enough to pick up and set aside during the day) replace those huge canvas covers that pool owners can find so burdensome to roll out and back.
A sense of community exists here – Shelley told me about barbecues, Easter egg hunts, and fourth of July parties. Members can walk to BART and the reservoir for commuting and pleasure.
No wonder tenant turnover is low, and any vacancies that do occur are usually snapped up within 24 hours!
Lamorinda Patch Article – “Two Bedrooms, Full Kitchen… and All the Figs You Can Eat.”