Plant a Nopalerie (Large Garden of Prickly Pear Cactus)


Cause Areas


Wed Oct 05, 2016 09:00 AM - Wed Nov 30, 2016 01:00 PM


Immanuel Lutheran Church14103 Saratoga Avenue(on corner of Saratoga Ave and Seagraves Way)Saratoga, CA 95070

Prickly Pear Cacti


Opuntia ficus-indicas (prickly pear cactus) is a common food crop in many parts of the world. Consequently, it is known and desired as food by many immigrant populations in this country. Moreover, it is easy to grow, not invasive in this area, and requires no supplemental water once established. Over the next few months, we will plant about 300 prickly pear cacti plants on this site along with some Organ Pipe Cacti, Dragon Fruit, Peruvian Apple Cacti, Xoconostle, Figs, and a variety of perennial kitchen herbs. Our ultimate intent is to be able to deliver nopal each week to area food banks while also selling a portion at a local farmers market to cover our organizational expenses.

Prickly pear cactus have both stiff spines and glochids (prickly hairs) that can cause inflamation and pain if touched. Consequently, volunteers should wear thick gloves, long sleeve shirts, long pants, high socks and sturdy closed shoes or boots. Individual nopal (the pads of prickly pear cacti) when fully mature, which most of these will be, weigh between 1 and 3 pounds each. Individual nopal are detached from the larger cacti by sawing with a folding orchard saw. Harvesting will be limited to taking those pads within easy reach while standing with feet flat on the ground. This is to avoid the hazard of volunteers falling or the hazard of having things fall on them. Volunteers will be encouraged to work together and take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue.

While there is some shade to rest under when tired, much of the work will take place in full sun. Consequently a hat and sunscreen is recommended. Volunteers should bring a good supply of drinking water. A snack, or even a lunch, is recommended.

Following the work event, volunteers are invited to join Bountiful Churchyards and Farming Hope staff and unhoused associates for our community meal, always freshly made and vegetarian by chef Kevin Madrigal.


  • Farming
  • Gardening
  • Agronomy
  • Horticulture
  • Cooking / Catering
  • Nutrition

Good Match For

Teens Group

Requirements & Commitment

  • Must be at least 12
  • Arrive when you want. Leave when you want.
  • Under 18 should come with an adult. Groups please register in advance so we bring enough tools.
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