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Talks and Walks - An Easy On-ramp to OFG

March 07 2013 | Ocean Friendly Gardens, Lawn Patrol,
by Paul Herzog

Whether your Surfrider chapter has an established OFG program or not, a great way to educate people is by giving short talks to groups. The talk be structures along the lines of the problem/the solution, with a little background on Surfrider and finishing with how people can support the chapter: create an OFG, volunteer, donate, etc. Sample slideshows are posted in the OFG Activist Toolkit as well as in the OFG folder on ChapterNet.

Groups such as Rotary Clubs, native plant societies, and green building associations are often looking for speakers. Also, offering a short talk is also a good way to introduce OFG to government agencies (water quality, water supply, flooding, green waste reduction) as well as private water districts. If a landscape-related class is already being offered, offer to present a section on OFG. Pictured at left is Beth Crosse, Co-Chair of the South Bay, CA Surfrider Chapter's OFG Sub-Committee, speaking for 10 minutes at a class put on by a water district.

Garden walks are another easy and fun educational activity. The walks last about two hours, and typically start at a home that is an example of OFG. The route is scouted out ahead of time. More information about walks (aka Lawn Patrols) can be found in the OFG Activist Toolkit.

At left is Ramie Allard, Chair of the Monterey, CA Surfrider Chapter's OFG Sub-Commitee (and landscape contractor, plus G3 Certified Professional), leading a walk. Ramie provided participants with coffee, bagels and fruit. Ramie handed out OFG Bingo cards for the walk.The group started their learning process at Ramie’s garden, with Ramie pointing out how the OFG principles of CPR - Conservation, Permeable and Retention - were applied. They walked to two other gardens that were installed by a local landscape professional who joined them on the walk: Robert Schuler.  Ended back at Valley View property for plant raffle and Bingo plant prizes.

Also in attendance were an arborist, a nursery owner, Master Gardeners, neighbors, a contractor, an irrigation specialist, and the President of Central Coast CLCA (California Landscape Contractors Association). Ramie had OFG books on hand to sell.

Ramie's walk lead to be invited to come to other events. She participated as an exhibitor in a stormwater workshop presented by the local Resource Conservation District. There, she demonstrated different types of drip irrigation and discussed CPR. Next was the Carmelo Bay Garden Club: the members were very interested and Ramie encouraged them to invite her into their neighborhoods to have a garden walk. In the walk in Ventura, CA that's pictured at left, representatives from the City's Planning Department and City Manager's Office attended, as did a staffer from the California Coastal Comission.

Walks also help identify gardens that have some OFG elements, and may just need a little help to complete them. A Surfrider chapter might consider hosting a Garden Assistance Party to help do that one last part, such as re-directing a rain gutter downspout into the landscape. When the OFG is complete, it can be posted on the OFG online map, and return to the site for a walk!

At events your chapter is hosting, you can educate attendees or passes-by about OFG.At left is San Diego, CA Surfrider Campaign Coordinator, Julia Chunn, talking to people who stopped by the Chapter's table at a GAP to find out what was going on that day. They provided their contact info so the Chapter could inform them about the next OFG event.

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