Watch CBS News

Volunteers gather storm water to ease drought conditions at Petaluma community garden

Petaluma egg farm harvests rain water to grow food for community
Petaluma egg farm harvests rain water to grow food for community 02:14

PETALUMA -- While the rare September rainstorm brought hazardous driving conditions around the Bay Area, it also carry with precious moisture for the drought stricken region.

 A KPIX 5 camera crew came across a couple of solo car crashes along Highway 101 in Marin County in the afternoon. A white truck lost control and ended on its side. And a red Cadillac spun around and came to a stop in the wrong direction.

The are some benefits from this storm.  Firefighters said while this unusual mid-September rainstorm won't immediately end the fire season, it'll ease the fire danger.

And they're not the only ones happy to see a good soaking.  A group of volunteers in Petaluma is turning this unexpected rain into healthy food for their community.

"The timing couldn't have been better.  It's exciting.  It's surprising.  It's weird," said Mary Beth Leland, co-founder of the non-profit Deviled Eggery.  "I don't know why it's raining in September right now.  But the timing worked out fantastic for this." 

Leland, her husband Eric, and a group of volunteers just set up eight blue barrels and three large square water containers on Saturday right before the rain.

"The roof here has a pretty large span, right?," Eric said. "40 by 30 (feet.)  So it can generate a lot of water.  So all the water fills up these containers.  And they're all attached so they're equalized.  So they all go up equally until they fill up."

They will use the collected water to water the community garden they started about five months ago next to their Petaluma home.

"If you get that occasional rainstorm when it's sort of out of the rainy season, then that makes it even more worthwhile," said Lamar Shahbazian, a volunteer with Deviled Eggery and another Petaluma non-profit Una Vida.

Since they're located outside of the city limits, their only source of water comes from a well.

They believe the rain collection system will allow them to keep their garden in this drought, maybe even expand it.

"We have three acres, we can grow a lot more, but we just don't have the water for it," said Shahbazian.  "(The rain catchment system) is an inspiration where you say 'what if you could?'"

Through Deviled Eggery, about 15 families in their garden network are donating the surplus produce from their home gardens to Una Vida of Petaluma. 

 Una Vida then distributes the fresh vegetables to low-income families in the community.

"We're estimating we caught about 300 gallons with today's storm with the blue barrels and about 400 gallons with the IBC containers," said Mary Beth Leland.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.