80 people turned out for a morning workday in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to plant an Ocean Friendly Garden at a City of Long Beach, CA fire station turned into a city councilman's office. Rex Richardson, Councilman for the 9th District in Long Beach, CA, was stoked to see his constituents get educated through hands-on application in this large, almost-3,000-square-foot area. Plus, the project was a great example of collaboration between government, high school students, non-profits and landscape professionals.
The project was conceived and coordinated by the Jeff Rowe of the Grant Neighborhood Association, with some organizational support from the Tiffany Chen and Larry Rich at the City's Office of Sustainability (OOS). The OOS directed Jeff to Surfrider-Long Beach Chapter to share the OFG criteria to guide design and site preparation. Surfrider-Long Beach OFG Committee volunteer, Joe Geever (who's a former national staffperson), was the point-person and coordinated with Jeff on acquiring materials and with landscape designer Jerry Fink of Homegrown Urban Garden Services.
The week prior to the workday, Joe helped lead 40 volunteers through turf removal, contouring the site for rainwater capture, and sheet mulching. Jerry ran the sod cutter while other removed the turn, then followed with sheet mulching. In addition to GNA and Surfrider members, the well-motivated crew included students from Cabrillo High School. Darrell Patterson, the Councilman's Outreach Coordinator (appearing on the left in the picture at right), talked with students about how they learned to put into action what he is studying in his college environmental masters program. Darrell suggest they implement an OFG project at their school. Surfrider volunteer Jennie Wanner mentioned they could become a Surfrider Youth Club.
Participants also came from Leadership Long Beach, lead by Leadership LB's (paid) staff, Jeff Williams. There are Leadership groups in cities around the country, "educating and motivating leaders on issues important to the future and sustainability of our city." In terms of the sheet mulching materials, Surfrider-Long Beach bought the compost and paper, and Jeff got the cardboard. During lunch, which was provided by the Councilman's office, Surfrider was given an opportunity to talk about OFG. Plants were sourced from just down the street at Ricardo's Nursery, and Ricardo (Arrivillaga) came by to help plant and give some guidance on placement of a few plants.
While most of the rainwater falling on the roof will just flow onto gravel and toward the landscape, a raingutter and downspout will be added to the area over the building entrance to capture rainwater that currently flows onto concrete and out to the street. Neighborhood Association will work with the Councilman's office to get this purchased and installed. The management of the landscape will be taken on by the Neighborhood Association. Next door to the OFG, the group helped create the beginning of a mini-park. This is the first park in the Councilman's district!
At the end of the workday, in-coming Long Beach OFG Committee Chair Robert Baker (far right) and Surfrider National OFG Coordinator Paul Herzog presented Councilman Richardson (in the middle) with an OFG yard sign.
The Long Beach Firefighters Association provided food for the volunteers at the workday. Sona Coffee, Surfrider-Long Beach Vice-Chair and also a Commissioner on the City's Sustainable City Commission, and helped with some behind-the-scenes coordination.
The Long Beach Press Telegram did a great article on the project!