The greatest impact the grant made was regarding the production and continuity of the seasonal Edible Garden. There is over 2,200 square feet of edible garden area and over 20 fruit trees throughout the property. The Grant enabled the TLB team to work with Glennwood residents to prepare and plant the garden with seasonal crops throughout the year (summer; tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, sunflowers and a variety of herbs, and fall/ winter; lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli, edible flowers).
Garden & Kitchen Workshops & Education
The TLB team worked with the head chef of the Glennwood House to plant a menu-based garden for use in the resident’s meals. Instruction included proper harvesting techniques, hands-on classes and cooking demonstrations.
When we began working with Chef Sheila, the Glenwood head chef, she was very skeptical about using the garden produce in the kitchen as garden pests had become out of control and there were only a few plants that she knew how to harvest and utilize. We won her over by harvesting and thoroughly cleaning the existing produce so it would be convenient for her to use. At the next seasonal planting, we planted vegetables that she was more familiar with and that the residents enjoyed eating.
Additionally, three (3) cooking classes were organized for the residents using produce from the garden. At first, the residents were hesitant to attended classes due to concerns about interacting with new people and trying new foods. Our first class used the summer peaches from the tree we had planted the year prior and made sugar-free peach ice-cream using an old fashioned hand-crank ice maker! The residents helped to mix the ice-cream base, layer the water and rock salt and turn the crank to churn the ice-cream. Only a small group worked to make the ice cream, but in the end everyone came down to enjoy it!
Irrigation System Optimization
During the assessment of the existing irrigation system, it was determined to be largely functional, but also requiring several critical repairs. Two (2) valves were leaking a significant amount of water on a daily basis and needed to be replaced. This will effectively save hundreds, if not thousands, of gallons of water annually.
Additionally, some areas of the garden were being over-watered, some under-watered and some without any irrigation. Two (2) new valves were added to the system to provide an additional level of control to ensure appropriate watering and also to provide water to the newly-planted fruit trees along the North side of the building, effectively eliminating the need to hand-water.
Additional, unexpected repairs were made to replace existing broken pipes, leaky fittings and malfunctioning spray heads. The final adjustment to the irrigation system was ‘turning off ’ the valves for the Native Plant Garden.
The steep slopes facing Ruby Street and Pacific Coast Highway contained a mixed-bag of plant species, much of it high-water use and overgrown. The TLB team drafted a plan and procured plants to replace several that would be removed in favor of native and drought-tolerant species. An entire row of Glossy Abelia and Star Jasmine was removed along with patches of African Lily, invasive grasses and perennial weeds.
A selection of hardy, drought tolerant species was procured and then installed following the significant rain event, per best practices of planting native plants. The newly installed slope features six (6) different varieties of the native California Lilac, the Laguna Beach native Coyote Bush and extremely drought-tolerant Rosemary and Agave species. The existing African Lilies were then transplanted into the vacant planters along Ruby Street, providing a pleasant curb-side experience.
In summary, the opportunities afforded by this year’s LBCF Grant have been extraordinary. The relationships between Glennwood Residents and members of Transition Laguna Beach have been extremely rewarding by all accounts. Through the mindful stewardship of this small property, many have seen what is truly possible when like-minded groups come together and works towards a common cause and create a real sustainable environment.
Special Thanks to the TLB Team: Christian Macke, Gloria Broming, Larry Casner and Linda Elbert!
While the LBCF Grant was a significant help in making the Glennwood House more sustainable and was able to provide the opportunity to educate the residents and staff, there are a few key areas that we feel could still be addressed in future projects, should another Grant award be considered:
Finalizing the Irrigation System
The most critical repairs have been made, but there is still several areas that lack sufficient irrigation and moisture control due to the lack of a resources. Installing a new weather-based ‘Smart’ Controller and at least four (4) additional valves would result in the savings of hundreds of gallons of water over the course of a year and completely eliminate the need to hand water.
Due to the unforeseen and urgent repairs to the irrigation system, there was not enough budget to allocate funds to a rainwater catchment system as originally intended. A decision was made to allocate funds to fix the irrigation system leaks in lieu of adding rain barrels as the net savings of water by the repairs would far outweigh that of additional catchment. With the finalization of the Irrigation System, an interpretive or artistic rainwater catchment system can be implemented and used to educate the importance of harvesting water.
Edible Garden Continuation
The garden is off to a great start, but, with all living things, will begin to lose its production value without a dedicated care-taker and resident coordinator. In tandem with this is the education of the head chef on new ways to use the produce and continuing the resident cooking classes that are much enjoyed by the residents.
It has been mentioned that in order for true sustainability to be realized that seedlings should be grown on-site for use in the garden and to possibly raise additional funds for enhancing and maintaining the garden. A Seedling Program with Transition Laguna Beach and the Glennwood Residents could greatly reduce the need for purchasing plant material, while also providing real-world skills in creating a marketable product.
Thank you to Massen Greene for your partnership with LBCF and your continued support of our community.