In recognition and support of local environmental efforts, on Monday, December 15, 2014, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Hetimann, on behalf of the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division, Ventura Water, E.J. Harrison & Sons, and Agromin Premium Soil Products (Agromin), presented the 2014 Green School Award to Lincoln Elementary School, and the 2014 Watershed Hero Award to Loma Vista Elementary School.
The Watershed Hero Award was presented to Loma Vista Elementary for converting their school front entryway into a water wise Ocean Friendly Garden complete with a rainwater capture system, bioswales and drought tolerant California native plants.
“We’re so grateful for our ‘Watershed Hero Award,” said Marlene McMullen, Principal, Loma Vista Elementary School. “Changing out the front area of our school with an Ocean Friendly Garden was truly a community effort. We would also not have this gorgeous garden if it wasn’t for all the help and support of the many sponsors and supporters.
In early 2014, Loma Vista Elementary School was chosen as the recipients of Midtown Ventura Community Council’s 2014 Adopt-A-School Project. The Midtown Ventura Community Council, a non-profit organization formed by citizens of Midtown Ventura in 1997 to help improve our community.
“We had an iconic 90-foot high diseased Monterey pine tree in our front yard that was dying,” said McMullen. “We really needed to remove it, but because the tree was the focal point of the school, we knew if it was removed, the children would miss it. At the same time, the Midtown Ventura Community Council told us that we were chosen as their ‘Adopt-A-School Project for 2014.’ Everything just grew from there. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Working with the Council, it was decided that we’d do a comprehensive redesign and install a California Coastal Native and Ocean Friendly Garden that would be both water efficient in addition to being a special place that students and faculty could enjoy.”
Local landscape architect Brian Brodersen, designer of the OFG landscape for Will Rogers Elementary School, drew up plans for the Loma Vista redesign. Jesse Doty, Senior Project Manager for Clark Construction also volunteered his time, and contributed staff and equipment to help with the job.
Ojai Quarry’s Larry Mosler donated $2,000 worth of rock for the garden. Surfrider Foundation and the City’s Ventura Water Department also donated staff and money for the purchase of native plants. As part of the City’s Environmental Sustainability Division, every student has received a classroom presentation on waste reduction, water conservation and watershed pollution prevention.
Work on the garden began on May 17, 2014, and for seven full work days from May until September, students, parents, faculty, and community members removed turf, weeded, rototilled, graded the land, sheet mulched, placed rocks and boulders, hand-crafted benches, re-directed the rain downspout system into large bioswale gardens that slow the flow of water, allowing it to sink into the ground, and planted native plants.
“It really does take a village!” said McMullen. “We had over 200 volunteers on the project,” said McMullen. “In honor of everyone’s efforts and hard work, and to show our sincere appreciation for everything done on our school’s behalf, we plan to acknowledge all our donors and contributors with a special plaque that will be placed in the garden.”
Changing out their landscape for an Ocean Friendly Garden will allow for continued student education regarding sustainable gardens. Additionally, the school anticipates a reduced water bill, as these gardens rely on rainwater, not potable drinking water.
“There’s a paradigm shift happening with how we need to think about our lawns and landscapes,” said City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Jill Santos. “The California drought has helped accelerate this shift, and for a sustainable future, we all need to do our part. Emphasis is being placed on thinking green with water wise gardens, capturing rain water from our roofs in rain barrels, and appropriately placing bioswales in our landscapes to capture rain water, allowing it to flow and sink in to our landscapes vs. running off into the street where it picks up a variety of pollutants which get carried into our oceans and rivers.
Kudos to the school district, Midtown Council and to Loma Vista Elementary School, for providing this amazing opportunity for Ventura students and their families to learn about the importance of implementing these sustainable, water-saving initiatives.”
-Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV