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May 2021

10 Tips for Starting Your Own Garden

Tomato plant with red and green tomatoes

You don’t need a big backyard to grow your own food. What you do need, however, is patience, a bit of resilience, and according to most everyone we talked to, forgiveness. We gathered insights from a few of our staff members and garden-based grantees to help guide you through creating a garden of your own. Read more to learn what to know, what to consider, and what to remember as you explore one of the most rewarding at-home adventures.

Discover our top 10 tips for starting your own garden here.

Asian Americans for Community Involvement: Leaders in Health and Advocacy

Person smiling and looking up at sun in forestWhen considering what being “healthy” means, we often think of physical health. However, mental and spiritual health, while often overlooked, are equally as important. Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) recognizes this, and they are making a big difference in the lives of their community members.

Founded nearly fifty years ago, AACI began to address the unmet needs of Southeast Asian refugees and has since grown to be one of the largest community-based advocacy and service organizations in Santa Clara County. AACI strives to mitigate the inequities deeply rooted in the United States health systems and services by providing community members with the resources they need to help them thrive. They are able to do so in over 40 languages, with bilingual, bicultural providers that understand and have ties with the communities they serve.

With medical services, wellness services, behavioral health services, domestic violence and human trafficking services, as well as youth and leadership opportunities and continued political advocacy, AACI is able to coordinate care among several programs, working tirelessly to serve the needs of its community and shows no sign of slowing down.

As Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Mental Health Day approaches on May 10th, during the larger AAPI Heritage Month, Nira Singh, Director of Behavioral Health Services at AACI, discussed their holistic approach to client care, and their work throughout the pandemic. “We offer integrated services to people from age zero to older adults with a model of whole health,” said Singh on their client-centered services, which often involves spending time in nature.

Such a call to action highlights the importance of having green space in cities for urban residents to visit. Authority-funded parks like Edith Morley Park and Martial Cottle Park are excellent examples of how developed, urban environments can still provide nature that offers similar health benefits without requiring people to travel far from home. And the way AACI prioritizes encouraging their clients to get outside sets them apart from many health care providers, as it considers much more than only medical interventions to keep their clients healthy.

With a long career in community-based health and advocacy work, particularly focused on marginalized and underserved populations, Singh not only helped to get AAPI Mental Health Awareness Day established, but also recognized nationally. Now, approaching her sixth year at AACI, she continues to oversee Behavioral Health services at the organization, and the passion she has for her work is greater than ever. “The Achieving Whole Health model focuses on physical health, mental health, and spiritual health, and being in nature is a key factor,” Singh mentioned. “And spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean religion – simply having time outside and in nature is healing, regardless of religious belief, and it’s frequently included as part of treatment for patients.”

Read more about AACI's work in the community here.

Community Connections: Tim Oey at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition

Tim Oey standing next to bike and long bike trailer

If you’re on the road and see a bicyclist towing a trailer loaded with up to 650 pounds of supplies, there’s a good chance that it’s Tim Oey, Events Manager at Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC), on his way to work. Or the grocery store, or the doctor’s office, or a community event, or really anywhere else one might think to travel. That’s part of Oey’s biking philosophy: “anywhere, anytime, any kind of weather, any day." With a dedication to showing people that biking is beyond a viable alternative to driving, it only makes sense, then, that he works for SVBC, an organization dedicated to doing the same thing.

The benefits of biking instead of driving are well-documented and have been for years. Compared to driving, biking emits a fraction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, making it a far more climate-friendly form of transportation. Spending much of his career in the tech industry, Oey completely “switched gears,” as he put it when he came to better understand the seriousness of climate change’s trajectory and that we quickly need to make serious changes to help protect our planet. In 2019, he went on a business trip from San Francisco to Boston, over 5,000 miles, giving a total of 254 talks to teach people across the country about biking, living a zero-waste lifestyle, and the many other ways we can help our world. He biked the whole way.

Now, Oey plans and hosts events with the SVBC, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing with the public the enjoyment and viability of biking as a form of transportation, not just recreation. To support this mission, they host yearly events in honor of National Bike Month and National “Bike to Wherever Day,” usually known as “Bike to Work Day,” on May 21st this year. To celebrate and to increase the flexibility of how people can participate, the festivities are spread throughout the entire month of May, with different events each week.

“Bicycles are a final destination for being a super solution to climate change.” To find the best route or trail, check out our Guide to Biking Santa Clara Valley, and for more resources, visit the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition website.

Read more about Oey and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition here.

Who Am I?

Who am I?

I am a small species of wading bird with a lanky body, large, round head, big eyes, and short bill. You can find me in wetlands, but unlike most other shorebirds, you can also find me dry areas such as fields, mudflats, and even lawns and golf courses! My unusual name comes from the sound of my shrill, distinct call. Who am I?

Wildlife Tracking Basics with Pathways for Wildlife

Bobcat looking at camera

Friday, June 11
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Virtual Event

Wildlife is all around us in the Bay Area. Diverse species of animals filter through our urban landscapes, crossing the boundaries of our homes, cities, and the protected lands that surround our region. Whether you are visiting your local parks and preserves on the San Francisco Bay, the coast, the Santa Cruz mountains, or the Diablo Range, there’s a great chance you’ll see wildlife, or at least signs of them. But how many of us can accurately identify these signs of wildlife, or use these signs to paint a picture of what’s going on in nature?

Join Peninsula Open Space Trust, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and the Open Space Authority as we welcome local wildlife researchers Tanya Diamond and Ahiga Snyder of Pathways for Wildlife to share practical wildlife tracking skills with our community. 


Celebrate Bike Month!

Family biking through park

May is National Bike Month - a perfect reminder to enjoy bicycling in the Santa Clara Valley!

Whether you are an experienced cyclist, just getting started, looking for mountain biking, urban bike trails, or family-friendly biking areas - our Guide to Biking in Santa Clara Valley and list of the Best Urban Open Space Bike Trails will help you have the best experience on two wheels this spring!

Follow us on social media!

Social Media Icons

Looking for even more nature? Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to get your daily dose of open space!

Who Am I? Answer

Killdeer bird standing on green grass

I am the Killdeer! This species of Plover spends its time walking along the ground or running ahead a few steps, stopping to look around, and running on again. When disturbed, Killdeer break into flight and circle overhead, calling repeatedly with a wailing “kill-deer!” Naturalists in the 18th century gave them names such as “Chattering Plover” and “Noisy Plover” because of how loud they are! Spring is the best time to spot Killdeer on open space preserves – look for them at Sierra Vista and Coyote Valley.

Photo Credits

Home Garden - Authority Archives
Enjoying Nature - AACI Courtesy Photo
Tim Oey - Courtesy Photo
Killdeer - Bill Adams, Authority Volunteer
Bobcat - David Mauk, Authority Staff
Biking Family - Authority Archives

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |