Monday, March 2, 2009

Villa Sobrante: What's in a Name?

We find ourselves making a home in El Sobrante, a fairly nondescript portion of unincorporated West Contra Costa County with a rich history - a mere 10 minutes from Berkeley (the big city!), a stone's throw from thousands of acres of open space in Wildcat Canyon, and just inches away from the wild turkeys and domesticated chickens that freely roam our street.

The name of the area, El Sobrante, comes from the Spanish verb sobrar. In common Spanish, sobrar translates as "to be left over." Local legend goes that El Sobrante was named “leftovers” because it’s the randomly outlined area nestled between Richmond, San Pablo and Pinole.

But the literal translation of sobrar means "to be more than enough." Thus, the literal translation of the noun el sobrante means “that which is more than enough” – or, simply said, abundance. Which is exactly what we intend to cultivate here. Quite fitting.

And our picturesque courtyard feels so very Mediterranean, protectively enclosing citrus trees and an endangered Guadalupe palm, that’s where the vision of the Mediterranean villa emerged. The word villa also connotes a retreat, or a family house surrounded by farmland. So that sort of works...

Hence, Villa Sobrante – the place of abundance!


  1. don't let the federal govt find out about your endangered palm tree! they'll uproot it, send to madagascar and then it'll be turned into fretboards for Gibson Guitars! ...its a conspiracy...

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  3. Hi neighbors! We are involved in some quite similar stuff. We don't blog, but do keep up with a facebook page, "Dervishes Permaculture Collective".
    We'd love to "network" with you somehow, as there are just a few permaculturists around here, but we feel it can easily grow! Peace, Eva