Green Spaces Alliance
   Sustaining Resources to Sustain our Community

  • January 06, 2017 11:40 AM | Don Pylant (Administrator)

    Volunteers walk along a Bulverde Oaks Nature Preserve Trail.

    Tucked away at the corner of Loop 1604 and Judson Road is a 31-acre oasis that’s home to 147 plant and 74 animal species.

    Located near a major highway, a limestone quarry, and a concrete company, the Bulverde Oaks Nature Preserve is a “little island” amid encroaching development, said Gail Gallegos, executive director of Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas (GSA), the nonprofit that owns the land. As one of the only large, ecologically diverse green spaces in the area, the preserve is a special ecosystem that provides protection for all its natural inhabitants.

    The Bulverde Oaks Nature Preserve

    Courtesy / Green Spaces Alliance

    The Bulverde Oaks Nature Preserve

    A construction materials company gave GSA the parcel of land in 2010, and Gallegos and her team immediately saw the value in preserving it as a sanctuary for local wildlife and native plants. The organization recently opened the site to the public for monthly guided nature hikes, Gallegos said, but the mission behind Bulverde Oaks remains focused on the land’s plant and animal life.

    “We want to have (Bulverde Oaks) as a nature preserve, first and foremost. The natural resources are what guide what development we do on the property,” she said. “Humans are the secondary factor. They’re visitors that come out to see and learn about the wildlife.”

    Bulverde Oaks Nature Preserve First Saturday Monthly Guided Hikes: Arrive at the preserve, located outside Loop 1604 on Judson Road, at 9 a.m. every first Saturday from Jan. 7 through Dec. 2

    In 2014, the alliance got to work enhancing the existing flora and fauna’s habitat.

    Volunteers cleaned the creekways, re-seeded the overgrazed grass, and built trails. Eventually, the GSA created a “foster home for bees” in an old corral and began improvements on the nearby stock pond that is home to a variety of waterfowl.

    The work didn’t stop there. Over time, GSA erected a bird blind so visitors could view wildlife without disturbing it, a bat house that can accommodate 300-400 bats, and a “petite pollinator prairie” for resident bees and other pollinators passing through. Gallegos said her team plans to add milkweed to the prairie as a food source for monarch butterflies, as San Antonio is a key stop on the butterflies’ migration route.

    Every addition and improvement GSA has made to the area over the years, Gallegos said, was “based on the needs of the wildlife and plants out there.”

    Last April, the Alamo Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist began sending volunteers to the site every Thursday morning to manage the land. Tasks ranged from invasive plant removal to trail building to planting seeds to clearing brush. 

    A Green Spaces Alliance water bottle is filled and ready for the ride. Photo by Scott Ball.

    Scott Ball / Rivard Report

    A Green Spaces Alliance supporter participates in an organized bike ride held in 2016.

    The enhancements have allowed adults and children to explore the site and learn about its thriving ecosystem on guided nature tours led by Ron Tullius of the Alamo Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist. Families, students, and anyone else interested in seeing Bulverde Oaks can take part in nature hikes with Tullius on the first Saturday of each month, starting this Saturday, Jan. 7, and going through Dec. 2. 

    Because Bulverde Oaks is a nature preserve, it is not open to the public except for tour days, Gallegos said.

    Gallegos encourages visitors to make multiple trips to the nature preserve throughout the year, as the landscape, flora, and fauna change considerably from season to season.

    “At least in South Texas, nature doesn’t really fall asleep completely,” Gallegos said. “There are always activities in nature going on.”

    Bulverde Oaks is a small parcel of land compared to city parks such as the 300-acre Phil Hardberger Park, but GSA sees it as an area worthy of investment and conservation. The nonprofit is working on a master plan for the site that would turn Bulverde Oaks into an outdoor classroom. The planning effort is being underwritten by a $15,000 grant from Tesoro Corp., an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products.

    “We want education to be the primary focus of all of our activities there,” Gallegos said.

    Gallegos hopes to finish the master plan by this year and get started on its implementation soon after.

    It’s a unique undertaking for GSA because the Bulverde Oaks is the nonprofit’s only property in San Antonio. It owns another parcel of land in Kendalia, just north of the city, and has conservation easements in three other areas in San Antonio.

    But Gallegos sees Bulverde Oaks, the “little nature oasis” as one of the organization’s assets most in need of protection.

    “It’s just really surprising when you realize it’s only 31 acres because we have so much wildlife and plants and insects and birds,” she said.

    “And (Bulverde Oaks) is their last island.”

    Camille Garcia Camille Garcia January 6, 2017 Rivard Report

  • January 13, 2016 10:31 PM | Don Pylant (Administrator)
    Changes approved to the city’s Unified Development Code allow home gardeners to sell produce from their own homes.

    “It allows people to actually grow food in their backyard — fruits and vegetables — and sell them, which is a change to our code. We typically in the past have not allowed people to sell goods from their homes,” said Rod Sanchez, director of the city’s Development Services.

    It’s a change John Garland, founder of Garland and Daughters, is excited about.

    Garland grows, harvests and delivers fresh produce to his customers.

    “This is absolutely something that a single mom can do, a family where both folks are working and they’re spending a lot of time, a family with kids who are interested in getting outside more,” Garland said.

    The green change has very little red tape.

    Home gardeners who want to sell their produce are not required to pay a fee, secure a permit or have an inspection done by a health inspector.

    The code change also deals with Urban Farms, which are gardens planted on empty or abandoned lots.

    A gardener looking to sell produce from an Urban Farm must ultimately get approval of the City Council if the farm is in a largely residential area.

    It would require a hearing in front of the city’s Zoning Commission.

    If you’re looking to make some extra money selling what you grow from home, Garland recommends you start small.

    “Start for your family and your friends, so that you’re getting experience and you’re getting feedback from your kids and your friends and your neighbors,” Garland said.

    screen shot KSAT12 video SA urban farm code change

    KSAT12 video available here:

  • January 08, 2016 8:18 PM | Don Pylant (Administrator)
    The William R. Sinkin Eco Centro at San Antonio College recently hosted a dedication ceremony for its newest project, a sustainable community garden. The project was made possible by the Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, through funding from the Bamberger Family Foundation.

    “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Green Spaces Alliance organization to be able to provide a community garden on the SAC campus,” said San Antonio College President Dr. Robert Vela. “One of our main goals with the Sinkin Eco Centro facility has always been to provide our neighbors and community members opportunities to connect with the College, and unite around the shared vision to live a more sustainable life.”

    Located on the property adjacent to the Sinkin Eco Centro building, just south of the intersection of Dewey and Ogden, the garden was built on a former city lot once occupied by a house. The garden improves and beautifies the property, provides a community garden for the surrounding neighborhood and offers education to students and the community. The garden will be used to grow fruit trees and vegetables to provide food, and houses an already existing butterfly garden, made possible by the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT).

    Sinkin Eco Centro volunteers – consisting primarily of current and former SAC students, as well as volunteers from the SATX Permaculture Group – began working on the garden project in early September. The project involved a few weeks of planning, followed by three concentrated volunteer workdays. Permaculture methods were used to amend the poor, severely compacted soil, taking advantage of the direction of the water flows on the property.

    The dedication ceremony featured remarks from Dr. Vela, Director of the Sinkin Eco Centro Steven Lewis, Sinkin Eco Centro Program Coordinator Julie Cornelius, as well as board members from the Green Spaces Alliance and Bamberger Family Foundation. Attended by various students, staff and community volunteers, the ceremony featured a tour of the garden and the planting of a tree commemorating the event.

    The Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas aims to sustain the natural environment and enhance urban spaces through land conservation, community engagement and education. In fulfilling its mission, Green Spaces Alliance runs a Community Gardens Program, partnering with various organizations to establish community gardens throughout the South Texas region. Since it was introduced in 2006, the Community Gardens Program has helped establish more than 40 community gardens.

    Owned and operated by the Bamberger family, the Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve is a 5,500-acre ranch that has been described as the largest habitat restoration project on private land in Texas. Purchased in 1969 with the specific purpose of restoring habitat, the working ranch functions as both a nature preserve and educational tool. Established in 2002, the Bamberger Family Foundation aims to insure that the accomplishments and legacy of the Bamberger Ranch Preserve will live on in perpetuity.

    Click here for more information about the William R. Sinkin Eco Centro.

    Original article: 

    EcoCentro staff, Bamberger Foundation representatives, GSA staff, and volunteers celebrate the opening of the EcoCentro Community Garden.

    EcoCentro staff, Bamberger Foundation representatives, GSA staff, and volunteers celebrate the opening of the EcoCentro Community Garden. Photo by GSA staff.

  • January 08, 2016 6:33 PM | Don Pylant (Administrator)
    On a Thursday morning, the corner of Beacon Hill and West Grammercy Place is a busy spot.

    “We have different kinds of lettuces, we have a lot of kale, we have a lot of Swiss chard,” said Cynthia Spielman.

    Speilman and many from her neighborhood visit the Beacon Hill Community Garden every day.  Many of the residents have their own plot in the garden – a garden which they share with everyone in the area.

    “You know, when we first started this particular plot, it was seven, maybe eight years ago and my husband had just undergone intense treatment for cancer,” said Spielman.

    The outlook was grim, but Spielman and her family put all of their energy into the community garden.

    “Suddenly, we went from being depressed to things being planted, things growing,” said Speilman, who credited the garden with his recovery.

    Spielman’s husband is now healthy, and more families like the Spielmans are participating and benefiting from community gardens across San Antonio. No longer is the food grown for those who need it – the movement has been helped along by the Green Spaces Alliance. The group has helped create plant 40 gardens across the city.

    “Forty is huge for us, because it’s only been nine years,” said Angela Hartsell, with Green Spaces Alliance. “Lots of the gardens have native landscapes. They have butterfly plants. They have other pollinator plants.”

    The Beacon Hill Community Garden has a small, outdoor library, a water catchment system, and a sink to wash off what is grown.

    For many it is a garden that has brought neighbors in this tight-knit neighborhood even closer.

    “I think it’s about community,” said Speilman.

    screen shot KSAT12 video Beacon Hill CG

    screenshot from KSAT12 video


    screen shot KSAT12 video Beacon Hill CG 1

    screenshot from KSAT12 video

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Green Spaces Alliance
Green Spaces Alliance Mission:  To sustain the natural environment and enhance urban spaces through land conservation, community engagement and education.

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