VanLeit Joins Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board

Betsy VanLeit, who joined the Ojai Valley Green Coalition’s Board this August, brings years of experience in administration of different sorts, from working in health issues (while teaching at the University of New Mexico, and administering federal grants for underserved people in the state) and the environment (while working for the US Forest Service, in earlier years in Oregon).

Betsy is eager to dive in and help the Coalition, and thinks tentative plans to revive the demonstration garden near City Hall, and manage it as a water-wise garden and as a community garden, make a lot of sense, both for the City and for the Coalition.

“I would love for us to become the leaders of that effort, to do something tangible for people and to bring people together,” she said. “I think we need to be bringing people together around questions of sustainability and local food, and this garden was the specific piece that made me want to roll up my sleeves and help to create something exciting here.”

Betsy retired from academia and came to Ojai in part to be closer to her parents, but has already been busy volunteering not just with the Coalition, but with Food Forward and the Land Conservancy. She thinks the town especially needs to pay attention to water and how to keep it on the land, after being certified in permaculture techniques.

“I think affordable housing and water are at the heart of the things that Ojai needs to grapple with right now,” she said. “I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do think the Green Coalition could help bring people together, and have the kind of conversations that could allow us to do things differently.”

Betsy stressed her eagerness to help, as well as her lengthy experience on one of the largest and most successful of food co-ops in the country, La Montanita in Albuquerque.

“There just seem to be a lot of wonderful and very caring people here, paying attention and trying to do good work and make it a better community,” she said. “And lots of people in spiritual practice as well. As a Buddhist practioner I like that connection to place and a certain sense of sacredness about life. In a lot of ways it feels very special to me, and I must say the farmer’s market is awesome. In Albuquerque we had a farmer’s market, but it began in May and ended in October, so to see the abundance of foods here week after week is quite amazing!”