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OFG Branching Out Through Teacher Training

October 12 2012 | Ocean Friendly Gardens, Basic Class,
by Paul Herzog

San Diego Surfrider Chapter has launched their fourth Ocean Friendly Gardens Series (Class, Workshop, Workday) and decided to use it to train qualified professionals who can lead future Series. Working with the firm with which they have contracted to provide teachers, G3/The Green Gardens Group, master teachers were present during the recent Watershed Basics Class to observe and assist.

Surfrider San Diego's Campaign Coordinator, Julia Chunn (at right), got the Class started with introductions and asking attendees to take a pre-Class quiz on their knowledge of OFG. The room was full with 30 attendees. The Class was taught by Susan Krzywicki (at left), a native plant consultant/designer and the Chair of the Chapter's OFG Sub-Committee. Susan volunteered at the last San Diego OFG Series and was excited to have the chance to be in the teacher role.

Local residents were interested in how going Ocean Friendly would not only improve water quality, but also protect the local bluffs from eroding. Just last year, the bluffs at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park was cited by Yahoo!’s Wanderlust blog as among the country’s five most-rapidly disappearing natural landscapes - right up there with Florida’s Everglades National Park.

An annoucement of the Series was featured in an article that ran prior to the Class in the Peninsula Beacon. The article noted that the City of San Diego's Park and Recreation Department, just a month ago, issued the final version of its drainage study on the bluffs. Dudek, the local engineering firm that prepared the study, proposes piping water directly to storm drains that discharge at the base of the bluff. Not only would that cost approximately $10 million, it would do nothing to change landscape habitats and contribute to polluting the ocean (and add unsightly pipes to the beach). A typical turf lawn in Sunset Cliffs can use 54" of water per square foot to keep it healthy. Natives use about 1/5 of that. Directing rainwater from roofs and driveways into landscapes can meet the needs of natives - and prevent polluted runoff.

The San Diego Chapter is a partner on a large state-funded grant centered around sustainable landscape education and hand-on training for both residents and professionals. Programming is envsioned to begin in the Spring of 2013. Grant partners have signed up to participate in the Series to learn more about OFG. Joey Jacoby (at right), a landscape architect with the City of San Diego, shared information about current landscape retrofit rebate programs.

Additional grant parterns, Stephanie Gaines from the County of San Diego and Dan Noble from the Association of Compost Producers (pictured at left), also actively participated in the Class. Stephanie was excited to learn how extensively stormwater runoff was addressed in the Class curriculum and in the OFG guidelines. Carlos Michelon from the San Deigo County Water Authority, the lead agency on the grant, also attended.

A post-Class quiz was completed by attendees at the end of the Class so the Chapter and G3 can see how much knowledge was gained. Lastly, those interested in being the host site for the next steps in the Series - a Hands-On Workshop on Site Evaluation and the Garden Assistance Party (GAP) - were asked to fill out a form and hand it in for consideration.

The Fox 5 News team covered the Class with a live broadcast, and here's link to their story and video. The Chapter sponsored the Series, spending its own funds to demonstrate its commitment to setting a new trend in landscaping and pollution prevention. Some funds were recouped by charging Series participants $30. In addition, the GAP host will be asked to pay for Susan's time overseeing the GAP workday as well as any time she consults on the design of the retrofit.

Next steps:

  • Nov 4th - Hands-On Workshop on Site Evaluation at the site selected.
  • Jan 13th - Garden Assistance Party to transform a landscape into an OFG!
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