In the midst of drought and rising temperatures, taking care of our soil has never been more important. Trees and plants lock carbon into the soil and are a key part of the rain cycle. However, our large-scale wildfires release tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in just a few weeks; equal to all traffic over the entire year in CA. The way we care for the earth right now has a direct impact on our future here in the valley and across the globe.
Since 2011, OVGC has provided fiscal sponsorship for a Community Garden (Ojai Valley of the Moon) located by the offices of the Ojai Land Conservancy on Baldwin Road. In 2015, our involvement deepened by actively managing the fruit trees, garden plots, and membership while we obtained funding to revitalize the property. This site has ongoing collaborations with US Fish & Wildlife, Monarch Arc, and the Ojai Valley Bee Club to support pollinators and propagate native milkweed species.
In the wake the Thomas Fire, our community is galvanized to reimagine future possibilities. This vibrant energy can create collaborative solutions to support the growth of a resilient community. One way OVGC can lead this effort is to facilitate the design of a central learning hub for the community to be engaged in environmental issues. The community and the City of Ojai are interested in revitalizing the Demonstration Community Garden behind city hall. This site is centrally located in the community and would be an ideal place for educational workshops and demonstrations to show our community how to mitigate the impacts of drought and wildfires.
The overall intent is to develop a suitable and feasible model for small-scale drought-tolerant infrastructure in Ojai. This area can serve as a model to test and evaluate the feasibility of using green practices in other areas. The creation of green infrastructure can provide benefits such as improving water and air quality, reduced urban temperatures, and reduced erosion. It can also provide community benefits such as improved property values, shared recreational areas, and a learning hub for the citizens.
Some potential ideas for this community space include:
- Support a diversity of native drought-tolerant plants
- Produce ongoing educational programs for public and school groups (composting, water-wise gardening, native plants, rain gardens, medicinal plants, plant dying, etc.) [note period after ‘etc’]
- Demonstrate natural building techniques that are fire resistant such as super-adobe, hempcrete, cob, and strawbale
- Show how a few tiny homes that could be thoughtfully integrated into the landscape
- Grow medicinal plants and those that can be used for natural fabric dying that tie into our rich Chumash history
- Build a seed bank kiva made of natural building materials
- Establish water-wise landscaping and food growing techniques that are applicable for backyards
- Include a rain garden to demonstrate how to capture hardscape run-off for homes
- Ensure a safe environment for families and a place of pride for the community
- Create an aesthetic place that facilitates connection between people (benches, paths, respite from summer sun and winter rain) and a source of self-expression for the community (artwork, rain/fog capture systems)
- And More!
It is important that this space generate a service component through volunteerism and is inclusive of all residents regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or abilities.
This project will require collaboration with experts such as builders, landscape architects, urban designers, permaculture practitioners, civil engineers, ecologists, and horticulturists to work in trans-disciplinary, cross-sector teams to address Ojai’s vulnerability to drought and fire. An innovative aspect to revitalizing this site is listening to community concerns, ideas, and helping residents to realize their own part. The goal is to embed a message of regenerative practices within our community and be an example for our county, the state of California, and even nationally.
If you are interested in supporting this project (through volunteerism, design ideas, or through sponsorship) please contact us!
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