Described as a “water battery” by its inventor, Peter Hoff, the Groasis Waterboxx is a circular, reusable planting container that allows plants to thrive in even the most arid regions by harvesting water through condensation instead of relying on irrigation. It is partially filled with water one time, during planting, after which the waterboxx collects dew and rain and wicks it slowly to the plant’s roots. After the plant is established, the waterboxx is removed and can be re-used for other plantings.

At the Overlook Trail sites, the Sonoma project will utilize 150 waterboxxes, testing their effectiveness in the local semi-arid Mediterranean climate. The plantings will increase native oak species and their understory shrubs on the highly visible and publicly accessible trail. The Ecology Center is in discussions with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to plant with Groasis Waterboxxes in 2012 on the Montini Open Space Preserve.

After Thanksgiving, Groasis Waterboxxes will be available for $30 each, 10 for $275, at Sonoma Garden Park during Harvest Market on Saturdays between 9am and 1pm, at 19996 7th Street East in Sonoma, near Denmark St. They are ideal for planting fruit, nut, or shade trees in hard-to-irrigate locations.

Volunteers are invited to help prepare the site and plant trees and shrubs in the waterboxxes. The last workday is scheduled for November 22 from 8 am to 4 pm. Volunteers should be prepared to work hard in rocky soil. To volunteer or learn more, please contact Caitlin Cornwall at (707) 996-0712 x105.