Debbie Croft: Christmas is over, but there’s lots to do in the foothills

Plans are already in place for activities and special events in the foothills next month.

• For gardeners living in mountain communities, frustration mounts while trying to work with our nutrient-deficient soil. But with composting and proper care, healthy fruits, veggies, flowers and herbs can be grown successfully.

A free workshop by the Mariposa Master Gardeners will be held in Greeley Hill from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 11. Master gardener Betty Massey will present “Nurturing the Soil” at the Senior Center Annex, 10340 Fiske Road. Register by email at or by calling (209) 966-2417.

• A workshop on pruning fruit trees will be held from 10 a.m. until noon Jan. 18. This free class is also sponsored by the Mariposa Master Gardeners.

Maxwell Norton, farm adviser, will demonstrate how to correctly prune fruit trees to maintain structural soundness and to encourage growth of quality fruit.

The workshop will be held at 3185 River Haven Drive in Mariposa County. Preregistration is advised. Go to for more information about the workshops and for directions.

• If you love Columbia Historic State Park and have a little time to spare, becoming a volunteer docent may interest you. Applications are currently being accepted for this position.

Training includes park etiquette and rules, history lectures and costuming guidelines. Costumed interpreters are needed at Columbia to educate visitors through exhibits, re-enactments and special events.

Fully trained docents are required to give eight hours a month. Shifts vary depending on positions and seasons.

The park will hold five training sessions beginning the last weekend of January. The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2014. For an application, call (209) 588-9128 or visit the museum. See for details.

• The Tuolumne County Arts Alliance meets regularly the second Saturday of every month for music and refreshments. On Jan. 11, the organization has permission to show the Ken Burns film “Yosemite: A Gathering Spirit.”

The screening will take place at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. at the YExplore/Cole Video Gallery at 1 E. Linoberg St. in Sonora. For details, call (209) 532-2787.

This event is on the calendar as part of the Yosemite Anniversary celebration. It is being promoted by the National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy.

• Sonora’s Stage 3 Theatre presents a one-man show titled “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder.” Actor Dwight Mahabir from Ceres stars.

Alonzo Fields served as the White House chief butler for 21 years, from the presidencies of Hoover to Eisenhower. He was the first black American to hold the position. The performance embodies the thoughts and feelings of the distinguished staff member during the Depression and World War II.

The play will be performed Jan. 9-26. Stage 3 is at 208 S. Green St. in downtown Sonora. Go to or call (209) 536-1778 for information about the performance schedule and ticket reservations.

• Fencing anyone? Registration is open for a fencing class with Merced College Community Services. This noncredit class will be held at the Mariposa Park Amphitheater from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 4 through April 29. The enrollment fee is $60. Fred Friedland is the instructor. Call (209) 384-6224 for details, or go to