Santa Barbara City College students and local church members are creating a sustainable garden to provide food for community members in need.
The “Mesa Harmony Garden” project is a collaborative effort between Holy Cross Catholic Church, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara Foodbank and community members to create a self-reliant organic garden. Located on the corner of Meigs Road and Dolores Avenue, the project site is estimated to contain over 300 trees and plants within less than an acre of land once completed.
Josh Kane, president of the Mesa Garden Project, said the nonprofit organization will donate its produce to county assistance programs.
“The goal is to provide as much food as we can to those in need,” Kane said. “None of us who are working on the project want or need the food. We want to be able to provide healthy food to those in need.”
The Santa Barbara Food Bank is working alongside the church and will receive produce to hand out within the county.
Doug Hagensen, program manager of the Santa Barbara County Foodbank’s Backyard Bounty Program, said the garden will provide valuable resources to the community during hard economic times.
“I think what is really exciting for me is the mutual cooperation between the land owners [Holy Cross Church] and all the different groups that make this such a win-win situation for the community,” Hagensen said. “My sense is that the food bank is undersupplied, the community needs are off the chart with the tough economic times.”
The project is currently in the running to receive the “Intelligent Use of Water Award,” a $10,000 grant from Rain Bird, a company specializing in efficient irrigation.
According to corporate marketing brand manager Jennifer Riley-Chetwynd, this is the first year that their contest’s winner will be decided by the public.
“This is the fourth year that we have given this award, but this is a dramatic shift from previous years,” Riley-Chetwynd said. “We are going grass roots and allowing people to put up their projects for the world to see and vote on and see how that project can use the world’s most precious resource efficiently.”
Riley-Chetwynd said criteria for the grant include improving the scenic value of the area without significant use of local resources.
“We are looking for entries that maintain or beautify green spaces in a water efficient way,” she said.
Although the Rain Bird award would be a boon, Kane said the garden will come to fruition regardless of who wins the irrigation competition.
“It is a great grant and we could do a lot of good with that $10,000, but we are going to build this one way or another,” Kane said. “The grant would make things a lot easier, but a fortunate set of circumstances has already brought us all together and it is going along great.”