Ocean Friendly Gardens Activist Toolkit/Informational Program

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Ocean Friendly Gardens Activist Toolkit
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Chapter 5: Informational Program

Chapters that have a lot going on and are not sure how much energy and resources can be devoted to a new program can focus on just getting OFG information out into the community. The public is hungry for reliable and local landscape information, and will appreciate this information coming from a reputable organization like Surfrider Foundation. Gathering and sharing of information is a great first step and doesn’t require resources be taken from your existing programs.

Lots of Good, Existing OFG Information

This entry level program can be as simple as handing out literature and talking to folks at Surfirder Foundation Chapter events, and/or posting the basic information listed below on a chapter website (or you can take on a couple extra simple steps outlined below):

  • National OFG webpage
  • OFG how-to book and Brochures
  • Online OFG Garden Tracker
  • OFG Sign and Sign Criteria
  • OFG Orientation

National OFG Webpage and Chapter OFG Webpages

The national OFG webpage (www.surfrider.org/programs) provides background information on OFG and CPR as well as tabs for:

  • Blog - What other Chapters are doing, do-it-yourself (DIY) info, and more.
  • Resources:
    • link to order the OFG book
    • information on OFG Series components
    • links to OFG garden tracker
    • OFG Sign criteria (and ordering the OFG sign)
    • Informational videos.
  • Contact info for me.

Chapter OFG web/blog pages can then be freed up to focus on local resources, events, and before/during/after pictures of community OFGs. For example, in many states there are chapters of a Native Plant Society who may have a list of local native plants on their website and can be a resources for chapter events, e.g., co-host and attend a Lawn Patrol. To share chapter activities throughout the chapter network, a person from each chapter can be trained in submitting content to the National OFG blog, e.g., short write-up, pictures, event dates, etc.

OFG Book and Brochures

The OFG Book is a how-to guide, covering: Planning, Preparation, Construction and Maintenance. The OFG brochure is a good, concise description of OFG. OFG brochures and books can be ordered from Surfrider Foundation staff:

  • OFG brochures – Send a request to Surfrider's Office Administrator, Amber Smith (asmith@surfrider.org) for how many your want. You can download the brochure at File:OFG Brochure 2012.pdf
Cover of the OFG Brochure
Back side of the OFG Brochure
  • OFG books – Send a request to Surfrider's Mail Order Manager, Jill Tierney (jtierney@surfrider.org), and include how many books you want and your mailing address. She will give you a price for the books and shipping.

Online OFG Map, OFG Sign And OFG Sign Criteria

Surfrider created an online OFG tracking tool to allow anyone to enter their garden information, whether they want to apply for an OFG sign or not.

OFG 6.jpg

People check off the CPR elements in their garden, upload photos and share their location so that others can come see and learn.

On the site there is a link to the OFG Sign Criteria.

The OFG Yard Sign

The sign qualification process is self-administered, relying on the honesty and pictures of the applicant to ensure it is an OFG. If they meet the OFG sign criteria and want an OFG sign, they can apply on the garden tracker (cost is $20) and the National OFG Coordinator will mail them one. Or if a chapter prefers direct contact with the applicants for an OFG garden sign in your area, you can direct them to a chapter coordinator for review of the garden, and sign delivery.

There is space at the bottom of the sign for sponsors of the garden retrofit to paste a customized sticker of their logo. Single or small orders of stickers can be done through online companies like www.cafepress.com. If there are multiple sponsors or partners, you can also create a mini-bumper sticker that is the same color blue as that used on the OFG yard sign. Click on the logo sticker displayed to the right for the sticker file:

logo sticker

Gathering Information - Check Out Who Is In Your Community

Chapters may plan to create tabling materials and handouts with local information. But before you get started, identify what OFG-related resources and groups already exist within your own community. Resources and information can be laid out in the same steps as one would follow to build an OFG. You can use the information gathering process as a means for identifying potential Program partners and funding options. Also, researching local ordinances that affect the landscape design is a great way to learn more about the activism that surrounds OFG. You can also send an informational letter to agencies, landscape professionals and others to let them know about OFG. Click on this attachment for a copy of the letter: File:OFG Program.informational letter.pdf.

Some of the tried and true sources of information are:

Local water/public works agencies

Check their websites and call them to confirm:

  • Classes – gardening, composting, rainwater harvesting, etc.
  • Resources – mulch, compost and compost bins, online plant database, irrigation guidelines.
  • Incentives – rebates and cash incentives for turf removal, irrigation retrofit, smart controllers, rainwater harvesting.

Government ordinances

  • These ordinances typically apply to new development and major redevelopment (when a building permit is required). Check to see if cities/counties have low impact development (LID) and landscape ordinances. For example, California mandates every city adopt a landscape ordinance as tough or stronger than the State’s Model Landscape Ordinance. Ordinances must include elements on water conservation (through water budgeting and efficient irrigation) and dry-weather runoff prevention (sprinklers set back a minimum 24” from hardscape).

Non-profit and community groups

Interested in water pollution prevention, water supply conservation, watershed restoration (including flood control), habitat restoration, etc.:

  • Master Gardeners – every land-grant university works with a Master Gardener program to promote the growing of edible landscapes.
  • Native Plant Societies – most states have a Native Plant Society Chapters dedicated to the use of local native plants to help preserve threatened species and “micro-habitats.” These native plants make your garden come alive – literally. IT’S TOO COOL to watch a boring lawn turned into habitat for all sorts of critters starving for a place to survive!!
  • River, stream, lake and watershed restoration groups.

Private sector

  • Landscape professionals and associations – such Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), American Landscape Contractors Association (ALCA) and U.S. Green Building Council Chapters (USGBC).
  • Some cities have established lists of landscape designers/architects/contractors as well as gardeners that have completed a sustainable landscape-oriented curriculum and certification.
  • Nurseries – identify their location, OFG-friendly materials they sell, and whether they offer any classes. If they offer classes, these may be great partners in that there is a mutual benefit from coordinating the class content and outreach for participation.

Get The Information Out Into the World

Do not assume that any particular audience already knows about or fully understands OFG. Even years of working in a field – like a water quality agency employee or a landscape professional – may not be a measure of knowledge about how OFGs work. Sharing this information is a helpful way to improve a person’s knowledge and professional skills. Surfrider plays a valuable role in making the direct connection between gardens and the ocean. OFG empowers people to be a part of the solution, not the pollution.

There are two forms of information sharing:

1. In-Reach – educate Surfrider Executive Committee members and chapter volunteers so they understand OFG (the purpose and benefits of the program applied locally) and are able to help promote it. This can lead to recruiting volunteers to launch the next steps in building a program. Ask for OFG info to be posted on the Chapter website nad social networking sites. Ask the Chapter webmaster to create an OFG webpage

2. Outreach – reaching out to all chapter members, the general public, and potential program partners like government, business and academia. OFG info and materials can be shared at (or sold, in the case of books):

OFG 7.jpg
    • Chapter meetings, community groups, water agencies, elected officials - present a slideshow. A sample is provided in Appendix B. Beachapedia does not allow a .ppt version to be posted, so contact Surfrider's National OFG Coordinator, Paul Herzog (pherzog@surfrider.org), for a .ppt version.
    • Regular or special tabling events – farmer’s markets, festivals, expos, etc. Download 8 1/2" x 11" mini-posters of "Before," "during" and "after" pictures of OFG activities in Appendix F.
    • Water quality agency and water district websites.
    • Landscape professionals – encourage them to apply for a sign for projects that meet the CPR criteria (see attached “Sign Criteria”).
    • Nurseries - display OFG brochures and local OFG info. Nurseries are also encouraged to buy and re-sell the book (this may require the chapter to buy some books and sell them to through nursery on consignment).
    • Schools with horticulture or water management classes.