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Oahu Chapter Pumps Out First OFG (Rain Garden)

March 13 2014 | Ocean Friendly Gardens, GAP,
by Annie Lovell and Paul Herzog

Surfrider-Oahu Chapter's first Ocean Friendly Garden (OFG) was built in partnership with Hui o Koolaupoko (HOK), a non-profit watershed management group on the windward side of Oahu. Surfrider volunteers attended a pre-build class to learn about the planning and design process of building an OFG. Then, Surfrider volunteers came out on a Saturday morning to install it through a Garden Assistance Party (GAP). HOK provided grant funding for materials to build the OFG. About 20 people came to the class and about 10 to the GAP.

Originally, the water from the roof was being directed into a planter that over-flowed onto the grass (there are no storm drains on this street). Now, rain water from roughly 900 square feet of roof flows from rain gutters, down a downspout, then extended to a basin (via the black pipe, surrounded by rock, picture at left). The OFG is roughly 60 square feet and planted with all native plants.

Here's what happened at the GAP:

  • Dug out and leveled the basin;
  • Installed edging and weed mat along the perimeter to keep out the grass and weeds*;
  • Formed the berms;
  • Built the inlets and outlets with coral pieces we found during digging;
  • Spread compost around the entire garden;
  • Then planted and finished with a 3 inch layer of compost.

The GAP took about 5 hours total. This included fixing a broken sprinkler line that was accidentally ruptured by a pick ax! Overall, the homeowner (at right) is happy with the new addition to their lawn and have told others about the OFG - who are also interested in installing one in their homes!

You can check out theFacebook page for the GAP to see more pictures from the build. The garden was posted to the OFG map by Oahu OFG activist, Annie Lovell. A short but sweet flyer was created for the event, pictured below.
A new OFG activist, Matt Moore, is working on doing a alsphalt depaving project with another non-profit, Malama Maunalua.  MM came to a recent Oahu Chapter meeting to talk to Surfrider members about what MM is doing and to hopefully get members involved with some of their projects.The OFG Committee is working on public policy as well, including a State storm water utility fee bill, which could help fund OFG-type retrofits. It got revised slightly to still aim at making it legally allowable to implement a fee, but they added in the bill that funds would be allocated to create a task force under the State Department of Health to research and present the best ways to go about doing this type of program/fee.  The bill has passed through the House and now it is onto the Senate. It's looking good so far!

Thanks to Annie for writing the bulk of this post!

* OFG Coordinator's note - these basins are common referred to as rain gardens.Often, they are put in the midst of a grassy area. The grass will want to grow into the basin. We will stay in touch with HOK and the homeowner to see if the edging and mat stops it. If the grassy area is not used, consider replacing it with native plants (or edibles) and mulch because OFG principles apply to the whole garden. See the OFG criteria for details.

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