About Us

Ploughshares Nursery trains and employs residents of the Alameda Point Collaborative supportive housing community.
Ploughshares Nursery is a non-profit social enterprise of the Alameda Point Collaborative supportive housing community.

100% of our sales support housing and services for formerly homeless families and individuals living on the old Alameda Naval Base in Alameda CA.

We advance our local community by:

  • Selling products that protect the environment
  • Using recycled materials whenever possible
  • Creating job training and employment opportunities for residents of APC housing
  • Generating revenue to support APC housing

We offer free hands-on workshops throughout the year on subjects such as ‘year round vegetable gardening’, ‘drip irrigation’, ‘pruning’, ‘dry composting’, ‘worm composting’, ‘how to plant stuff and succeed’, ‘habitat gardening’, ‘care and feeding of native plants’, ‘growing awesome tomatoes’, ‘container gardening’, ‘sheet mulching’, ‘care and feeding of succulents’.  We are proud to host speakers on subjects ranging from ‘tool sharpening’ to ‘the life-cycle of Monarch Butterflies’ and ‘introductory permaculture’.  Our workshops are best when they are collaborations between the attendees and the hosts because we understand that gardening is community-art and we know the best artists are the home gardeners in our community.  Sign up for our newsletter and come on down for a free workshop, its not a classroom to passively attend, you’ll be helping others to learn when you offer your own experience.

Ploughshares NurseryPloughshares is growing a new building to show off our products and offer classroom space for our workshops and for other similar organizations to utilize.  The structure will be the ‘greenest’ building in Alameda when it is completed.  Features include; straw bale walls, living roof, gray water recycle system, solar power, recycled building materials and actual real indoor plumbing like fancy city folk use!  We are grateful to Bonita Gardening Club,  Yahoo Employee Foundation, City of Alameda/CBDO, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Services for funding which will one day make this dream a reality.

 Ploughshare’s Staff

Jeff Bridge| General Manager

Jeff is a Bay Area native who loves nature and strives to promote awareness of sustainable gardening practices within our community. With twenty years’ experience working in the best independent retail nurseries of Northern California he feels privileged to apply his hard won knowledge towards growing Ploughshares into the success it deserves to be.

Linda Jones | Propagationist

Linda has been with Ploughshares for over five years. She started at Ploughshares as a participant in the ‘On the Job Training’ (O.J.T.) program offered residents of the Alameda Point Supportive Housing Community. The O.J.T. program was conceived as a means to help residents hone resumes and refine work skills necessary to return to the work force. The nursery O.J.T. program trained residents in retail and horticultural skills necessary to operate a propagation focused nursery. Linda had quite a knack for propagation work and decided to stay on after she graduated the program. In 2014 she was promoted to Senior Propagationist and has taken Ploughshares further down the path of sustainability by improving our quality and quantity of vegetables and ornamental plants grown ‘in-house’.   If you have a question about growing vegetables from seed drop by the green houses on a week day and give Linda a holler.

Bonnie Howard | Nursery Goddess

Ok, ‘Nursery Goddess’ isn’t really her job title, but ‘Sales Lead’ fails to convey the genuine warmth and plant-wisdom of this long -time resident of Alameda and fifteen year employee of former Thomsen Nursery. When Iris Watson, owner of Thomsen Nursery recommended Bonnie to us we were thrilled. Bonnie has a rare set of skills which can only be acquired by working a long time at a successful nursery which had become an integral part of the life of the community it served. Thomsen Nursery closed its doors in 2014 and Alameda lost an iconic business, but Ploughshares gained a professional staff member with in-depth knowledge of Alameda’s back-yards and real know-how about what works and what doesn’t work in those same back yards. Bonnie almost turned down our job offer when she found out we didn’t have a proper restroom at Ploughshares (we have a porta potty of dubious lineage) but the nursery cats won her over with their power of cuteness.  Need a cat?

Papa the Cat | Public Relations Manager – Pest Control Engineer

Papa (also known as Bruticus) has been an employee at Ploughshares longer than any other staff member. Papa may actually have lived on the site before Ploughshares opened its doors. Papa wears two work hats, by day he is our Customer Relations Manager and by night he is a Pest Control Engineer. Most folks will have their first encounter with him when they come to the cash register to make a purchase. He keeps his office on whatever table is positioned most advantageously in relation to sun and how much attention he can garner from human visitors (got some food?). Upon first sight of the razor clawed, fanged, furry blob that is Papa the Cat most people are quick to ask me ‘is she pregnant?’ (no he is a he and he is just fat), ‘is she dead?’ (referring to his habit of sleeping on his back with his legs straight up in the air), and inevitably ‘why don’t you put him on diet?’ (have you ever tried to put a twenty pound tom cat on a diet?).

Papa is a giant fat black cat with attitude and a purr and head-butt as full of love as his belly is wide. Yes, it is true that Papa likes to roll over onto his back and show you his belly in seeming invitation for petting. But no don’t do that(!), its a trap, touching his ample belly results in bleeding cuts on hands and arms …. at least until he gets to know you better (=bring him food), when he gets to know you better (=you bring him food several times) he will only slash you lightly for petting his tummy …when you don’t expect it and only as a gentle reminder of his feline sovereignty. Pet his head, he likes that,… you will not require Bactine if you pet his head.  For ten years Papa has been teaching the toddlers of Alameda what happens when you pull a giant fat black cat’s tale (or otherwise pester him). I’ve learned to recognize from a distance the distinct type of crying children emit when Papa has instructed them in the finer points of feline-human relations and go directly for the Bactine before trying to determine how angry the parents are and how badly damaged the child is. Fortunately most parents have agreed with Papa’s methodology and accept a little blood and screaming as fair price for a life lesson. We have lots of Bactine in the Ploughshares First Aid Kit because of Papa.

A heart felt thank you to Island Cat Rescue for saving Papa’s life in 2014 after he was struck by a car resulting in a shattered hip and broken leg.  As part of a feral cat colony at Ploughshares, Papa qualified for help from that worthy organization and they were able to pay for the operation we could not afford and which saved him from being put to sleep. I had the opportunity to care for Papa at my home while he recovered and learned that he is an excellent house cat, being very clean, very affectionate and appreciative of the luxury house cats enjoy and feral cats sadly do not.  As he gets older I hope that someone will read this and offer a place for him to retire at their home.  Feral cats rarely live as long as house cats and often meet traumatic endings, if you adopt Papa you will not be disappointed, I am certain he is Alameda’s finest feline citizen and a very good companion animal for a retired senior or young family (without dogs, he hates dogs).

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