HELP KEEP VENTURA BEAUTIFUL – Volunteer for the 31st Annual Coastal Cleanup, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015

CoastalOn the third Saturday of every September, people across California join together to take part in the State’s largest volunteer event to remove trash and debris from California’s waterways. The event, known as Coastal Cleanup Day, brings thousands of concerned citizens together to help remove litter and toxic materials from our coastal waterways.

So, this Saturday, September 19, from 9am to Noon, team up with Volunteer Ventura for the 31th Annual California Coastal Cleanup!

When you volunteer for this important event to remove trash and debris from our ocean landscape, your efforts will help protect marine and other wildlife as well keep Ventura safe and clean for humans to enjoy.

There are six locations around Ventura that will be removing litter from the coast, creeks, rivers, lakes and shorelines. Coastal Cleanup is asking that you BYO bag, bucket, and gloves (or trash grabber) as well as your own reusable water bottle so as not to create more trash for the cleanup!

For more information on the Cleanup and the locations, CLICK HERE.

One Stop Gardening:

News of California’s drought is everywhere. It’s a growing crisis that has us all rethinking how we use water. Since 40-60% of water is used outdoors, replacing your grass with a beautiful, native garden makes good sense. But, where do we begin? Have no fear, is here!

This easy-to-navigate, interactive website is specifically designed to assist residents of Ventura County with helpful information covering what to plant, when and where to plant, as well as how to best irrigate, care and maintain landscaped areas. The site offers beautiful garden tours and impressive landscape galleries to help users plan and select from a variety of trees, shrubs, plants, and ground cover which they can then “Add” to their own personal (“My List”) online garden list.

Below is an overview of what is found in each section at

Garden Tours

When users click on the “Garden Tour” tab located just underneath the navigation bar, a variety of beautiful gardens — from Ocean Friendly Gardens, to Ventura County Mediterranean Gardens, Coastal Japanese Gardens and other varieties — appear.

Click on a garden tour of your choice, and as you move your curser over the landscape’s boxed areas, the name of the plant or tree type will appear along with other vital information regarding the growth pattern, height and water requirements. Click on an individual box, and a larger image of the individual plant or tree will appear with additional gardening information.

At the top-right area of the page, you’ll also notice the words “Anatomy,” “Culture” and “Design.” Click on Anatomy, and you’ll find information on the plant type and plant flowering. Click on Culture and you’ll ascertain the growth patterns and the soil and sun exposure that is best. Click on Design and you’ll discover information on plant uses, the best locations to plant, and more.

When you click on the box “Add,” you will add this plant to “My List,” your personal list. You can add or remove plants at any time from your list.

To navigate back to the website’s home page, click on the “Main Menu” tab from any page on the site.

Garden Gallery

An impressive array of front yards, backyards, hillsides, walkways, entries, and patios can be found under the “Garden Gallery” tab.

In the same fashion as in the Garden Tours, click on a particular gallery, and you’ll be presented with a selection of tours. When you hover your curser over the white-boxed areas, information regarding individual plants— such as their name, growth pattern, water usage and sun exposure— will be available. Click on the image itself, and you’ll be able to access the Anatomy, Culture and Design buttons. You’ll also be able to add any of these plants to “My List.”


Under the “Plants” tab, galleries of gorgeous low maintenance trees, low maintenance shrubs, vines, ground covers, low water perennials, and ornamental grasses and clumping plants are visible.

Click on a particular gallery, and you’ll be given an A-Z selection of plant varieties in the category you have chosen. Click on any individual image, and you’ll be presented with access to the Anatomy, Culture and Design buttons for each plant. You’ll also be able to add any of these plants to “My List.”


The “Resources” tab offers helpful information on how to design and install a water wise garden as well as efficient irrigation methods and suggestions on how to easily and effectively maintain your landscape.

Under the Table of Contents section, click on “Introduction,” “Garden Tours” or any words in blue, and you’ll be taken to information on that particular section.

If you happen to get lost in the site, or you would just like to return to the site’s home page, just click on the “Home” tab on the top left hand corner of the page.

Watering Guide

Under the “Watering Guide” tab, information about watering, watering device types, common irrigation challenges, sample irrigation schedules, and general tips can be found.


Will Rogers Elementary School: Midtown Ventura Community Council’s Adopt-A-School Project for 2013



     Students at Will Rogers Elementary School will learn from a living laboratory created on their campus last summer with the help of Midtown Ventura Community Council’s Adopt-A-School Project for 2013.  To help prevent stormwater pollution and urban runoff, this partnership project replaced some of the school’s hard surfaces with an Ocean Friendly Garden, complete with a linear “bioswale.”  A lesson in how Mother Nature cleans and returns water to the ground, the school’s bioswale, with its sloped sides and a depressed area filled by rocks, native vegetation, mulch and organic compost, will retain stormwater and trap pollutants and silt that would otherwise would travel to the ocean.

     On Wednesday, October 2, the City of Ventura Fire Department joined Will Rogers Elementary School and other local community members to commemorate the newly landscaped areas, and to demonstrate how the new bioswale operates by releasing 500 gallons of water into the swale.

      “The Midtown Ventura Community Council approached our PTA and teacher leaders with an opportunity to bring the bioswale project to our school,” said Will Rogers Elementary School Principal Danielle Cortes.  “We worked as a team with the Ventura Unified School District facilities and leadership and involved the students and making everyone understand the importance of the bioswale — that it’s not just a garden and that it’s here to help keep our ocean clean.”

      “We’re very excited that the Will Rogers Elementary School has been surrounded by the community,” said Trudy Arriaga, Superintendent, Ventura Unified School District.  “As a result we have a beautiful example of community partnership at a bio-science academy with the children able to see how these natural systems work.”

     The Midtown Ventura Community Council’s first Adopt-A-School Project began in 2011 with the painting of Blanche Reynolds Elementary Rainbow Ridge Playground.  Solar lights were also installed in the playground.

     “The idea of the Adopt-A-School Project was originally implemented to show the community, the schools, and the children, that the community cares about them.  It’s something we could do to show our support as well as give the students pride in their school during these rough economic times,” said Dan Long, Board member of the Midtown Ventura Community Council Adopt-A-School Project. 

     Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Garden Committee donated funds and many volunteers to work on the garden and bioswale. 

      “It’s all part of a focus of restoring the Sanjon watershed,” said Paul Herzog, Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program.  “This area, which is actually a creek that has been covered up by hard surfaces, drains right out into the ocean. So, the more that we can do to on all these hard sites to sponge up water, to hold onto water and filter it, the more chance we have to maybe restore some of these creeks and have them flow again.”

     The bioswale project was completed in two stages.  In the first stage, Landscape Architect Brian Brodersen retrofitted the existing school garden turning this area into an Ocean Friendly Garden.  The mature fruit trees were kept in place, native plants were planted and a path was added with a 100-foot long bioswale to capture the stormwater, which formerly ran into the street.

      The second stage consisted of removing 300 square feet of asphalt to build a large swale. This large swale was enhanced with native plants and rocks.

      A thank you and round of applause at the event was given to Will Roger’s First grade teacher, Kris Guzman, who was instrumental in facilitating the day’s activities. She was also acknowledged for her ongoing involvements with other programs to help green the school including securing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Grant.

      In addition to the Midtown Ventura Community Council and Surfrider Foundation, other community members that played a key role in the bioswale project were:  The Ventura Unified School District Board of Directors, Administrators and Maintenance Supervisors, Will Rogers PTA, David Ferrin, Arketype Architects, Ojai Quarry, EJ. Harrison & Sons, Ventura Rental Center, ZDwellings Construction’s Green Builder Jeff Zimmerman and Terry Leach, Agromin, M&M Landscapes, G3 Gardens Group, and City of Ventura Enviornmental Sustainability Division and Ventura Water .


     For more information, visit Will Rogers’ Gardens at:

    Will Rogers Elementary School Receives 2013 Watershed Hero Award

 -Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV

Photos from “Urban Gold” Water Wise Class, November 9, 2013


On Saturday, November 9, 2013, 10am-11:30am, Ben Faber, Farm Advisor, UCCE Ventura Co., spoke about how to improve the biology of your soil to create a thriving garden and more at the FREE “Urban Gold” Water Wise Class held at the City of Ventura’s Sanjon Maintenance Yard.

The next FREE Water Wise Class Series starts in March 2014.  Stay tuned to, and SustainableVentura.TV for more information!

FREE Water Wise Class: Urban Gold Garden Class on Saturday, November 9

Environmental Specialist Jill Sarick talks to a full house at the FREE Water Wise Class held Saturday, October 12 in Ventura.

Environmental Specialist Jill Sarick talks to a full house at the FREE Water Wise Class held Saturday, October 12 in Ventura.

The third class in the FREE Water Wise Gardening series, Urban Gold, takes place on Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 10:00am-11:30am at the City of Ventura Public Works Maintenance Yard, 336 Sanjon Road in Ventura.

Find out how to improve the water holding capacity and biology of your soil to create a health compost, compost teas and natural humates that improve soil vitality, the foundation of thriving gardens.

The Water Wise Gardening series has been extremely popular.  Over 50 attendees have attended the last two class sessions.

The event is hosted by Aqua-flo and refreshments are provided.

An Ocean Friendly Garden in Ventura.

An Ocean Friendly Garden in Ventura.

To Register for the class and for more information, visit:

Also contact:  Jill Sarick (805) 652-4501 or email:

Listen to the Podcast from the October 12, 2013 Water Wise Ocean Friendly Gardens Class.

Watch the VIDEO from the first September 12, 2013 Water Wise Class:  SoCal Bloomers


Clean Streets = Clean Water



In urban areas, stormwater flowing in the streets carries phosphorus from tree leaves, grass clippings, soil erosion, fertilizer and pet and wildlife waste as well as other pollutants directly into our waterways and ocean.  Stormwater, unlike wastewater which is treated at the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility, travels untreated through our stormdrain system directly into our waterways.

So this Fall, while admiring all the vibrant colors in the beautiful foliage around your home, remember that these leaves, while things of beauty, can also be a devious culprit when they make their way into our  stormdrain system.

Sustainable Tips for Fall.  Pass them along!

•If you have a stormdrain near your home, please do your part to keep it free from debris and litter.

•Remove leaves from your driveway, sidewalk, gutters and the street in the front of your home.

•Sweep grass clippings and fertilizers away from driveways, sidewalks and gutters.  Rake up and compost yard waste.

•If you must use fertilizers and pesticides, please use  as directed on the label. Try to purchase products that are safe for the environment.

•Check your car regularly for gasoline and oil leaks.  Often times this waste travels into the street and stormdrain system.

•Enjoying a long walk with your furry friend (s).  Carry doggy waste bags and please pick up after your pet.

Visit: and

SAVE THE DATE: September 21, 2013, 9:00am-Noon – The 29th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day Needs YOU!


Historically, California’s coast and waterways have been collection spots for trash and debris.  It’s important to remove all litter, which can be harmful, even fatal to marine wildlife.

How does this happen?

Let’s look at some specific examples starting with plastic in the water.  Marine life can get caught in the debris and also consume it.  Plastic bags found in ocean debris, is not biodegradable. It photodegrades, which means it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, but it does not go away. These small pieces absorb oil and other toxins that may be in the water, making them saturated in chemicals. Plankton feeders ingest these small pieces, along with their normal food sources.  In some areas of the ocean, the ratio of plastic to plankton is 10 to 1!  In addition to impacting the marine creature that eats the plastic, plastic may cause genetic mutations that can impact future generations. Fish eat other fish with some working up the food chain all the way to human consumption. Think what this means to humans who ingest fish!


Broken glass, sharp metal items or discarded syringes can pose an immediate threat to those walking on the beach or swimming in the water, as do medical and personal hygiene debris, pet waste, fertilizer and pesticide runoff that get into the water through stormdrains.

Where does marine debris come from?

The majority originates on land with approximately 20% coming from commercial and recreational vessels and offshore petroleum platforms —  litter discarded miles from the shoreline that eventually find their way to our beaches, trash that makes its way into the untreated stormdrain system washing up on our shores.  It’s important to note that all these sources are preventable when people choose not to litter.


Statistics from last year’s cleanup

Tens of thousands of people turned up to pick up trash at over 850 sites in 55 of California’s 58 counties.  In a preliminary report from the California Coastal Commission with 70% of the cleanup sites reporting:

57,442 volunteers picked up 534,115 pounds of trash and an additional 105,816 pounds of recyclable materials for a total of 639, 930 pounds or 320 tons!

Make it a FUN day for the entire family

Traditionally, the Cleanup Day has been a great activity for families, students, individuals, and service groups to do something positive for the community where we all live.  “It’s a fantastic way to make friends, set an example for young people and participate in an event that really makes a difference,” said City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Courtney Lindberg.

For the cleanup, it is suggested to come prepared for the weather (hat, shoes, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, sunglasses, etc.). The cleanup asks volunteers to help reduce waste by bringing your own container for collecting trash, such as a reusable bucket, a milk jug with the top cut off, or a reused shopping bag as well as work gloves and a reusable water bottle. However, bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc., will be available and provided on site.

Participate in Coastal Cleanup Day, Watch For Signup information coming soon at:

Also visit the California Coastal Cleanup Day website, HERE.


GREEN REMINDER:  Anytime you see litter anywhere, please pick it up!  Help Keep our home and our waterways safe, beautiful and clean.