In 2016, the volunteer-run Ocean Friendly Gardens program (OFG) deepened its impact and broadened its influence. There were over 25 chapter-run OFG programs operating on the Atlantic & Pacific Coasts and in Hawaii. Chapters will be submitting their number of activities run in 2016, including talks, neighborhood walks, workdays and policy advocacy. Changes were also made to program tools to make them simpler and more accessible.
A new OFG program was launched by the Eastern Long Island Chapter, which received grants to install gardens at high profile public sites to maximize both the function and outreach potential of the gardens . The ELI Surfrider Chapter also directed grant funds toward financing a film to build awareness locally of water quality problems and the need for OFGs. The film, Into the Sea, features OFG and Blue Water Task Force and focuses on nutrient runoff in Eastern Long Island (ELI) that contributes to harmful and toxic algal blooms - impacting sea life, human health and jobs. There's a great landing webpage for the film, with how-to tips that are relevant no matter where you live.
Faced with annual algal blooms caused in part by fertilizer runoff, the Sebastian Inlet, Florida Chapter launched a program to "Restore the Shore" with OFG. An OFG was created at the water's edge to both prevent irrigation runoff and filter and soak up rainwater runoff. An amazing 150 volunteers showed up! Plus, they got great media coverage. Read more here. Looking ahead, this could help a campaign by Florida chapters and Surfrider staff around fertilizer ordinances and promoting healthy, living soil.
Chapters in the City of Los Angeles territory scored a policy victory when they worked with Surfrider staff and other groups to require the "watershed approach" (the same as OFG criteria) for the Los Angeles Department of Water Power turf replacement rebate program. In an effort to find common ground among the landscape program brands, Surfrider helped forge the term the watershed approach. It is the first city in California to require the approach for a turf replacement rebate program, and it's the largest water utility in the country! (All of San Diego just launched a similar program.) More on LA here. This work will serve as a model for organizing to get the rest of Southern California to adopt the watershed approach.
OFG has gone Hawaiian style with the Oahu Chapter, launching a partnership with a small permaculture company to create an integrated, hands-on workshop program. They call the workshops a "Surfblitz,'" incorporating OFG criteria and planting food-producing plants. The permaculture group has staff to help coordinate workdays. Read more here.
OFG leaders from several chapters helped create a short-form version of the OFG criteria. The Kauai, Charleston (SC), and First Coast (Florida) chapters provided great ideas, leading to form that has the essential components. The original, longer-form version is now utilized as a list of best practices. Click here for the short form, and it's linked on the "Resources" page of the OFG wepage.
It has been another great year for the Ocean Friendly Gardens program and all the volunteers and chapter leaders that donate their time throughout the year to protect the ocean, waves and beaches that are special to us all. Thank you for all that you do day-in and day-out to engage your local communities in ways we can all work together to protect clean water.