Ocean Friendly Gardens, GAP
November 10 2011

Chapters Get Federal Funding To Create School Ocean Friendly Gardens

Wow! Community-based groups in the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. (CA, Nevada, Klamath Basin = Southcentral Oregon) like Surfrider Chapters can apply to the U.S. Department of Fish & Widlife for up to $8,000 to build school gardens that create wildlife habitat. Since the criteria for Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) requires at least 10% of the plants to be native to create wildlife habitat, it a win-win.

According to the website for the USFW's Schoolyard Habitat Program, "Funding can be used for:

-- Habitat Restoration: habitat restoration projects on school grounds for use as living laboratories and a natural environment for plants and animals;

-- Outreach and Education: training classroom teachers to develop, implement and maintain conservation projects at schools; and

-- Collaborative schoolyard habitat conservation planning and training in cooperation with communitybased groups.

Schools or organizations serving kindergarten through 12th grade students are eligible for funding and may receive up to $8,000 for their projects. They must be working cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be eligible for funding consideration." In addition to funding, USFW also provides: technical assistance and project guidance; teacher training; and curriculum  for working with students in the classroom.

Surfrider-Ventura County OFG Committee member, Renee Roth, is doing a great job coordinating a Schoolyard Habitat (SYH) project at Matilija Junior High School in Ojai (several miles inland from Ventura,CA). Renee is working with the USFW office in Ventura. The Matilija SYH project website details the preparation, first workday and coming workdays (next one is Nov. 19, 2011). Renee is working with a local landscape designer and other professionals.

In the South Bay Chapter's region (coastal southern Los Angeles), teachers Ann Cortina and Betty Burkhard at West High School are leading a SYH project. They are coordinating with the City of Torrance's water conservation coordinator, Chuck Schaich. Together have hired G3/The Green Gardens Group to lead the students, employees from Honda Co. and community members through Hands-On Workshops (HOW) that will lead to a finished garden. HOW topics will include on Site Evaluation, Sheet Mulching and Sponge Garden Design, and Planting and Irrigation. At the Site Evaluation HOW, the students performed important tasks: testing for soil compaction and soil type, measuring the site, calculating rain water harvesting potential and depth of soil needed to "sponge it up." The Sheet Mulching HOW is scheduled for December 3, 2011.