Ocean Friendly Gardens Activist Toolkit/Series Program

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Ocean Friendly Gardens Activist Toolkit
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Chapter 7: Series Program

When you have gotten your OFG Sub-Committee capacity developed through sharing and posting information as well as conducting Lawn Patrols, you can scale up your work to sponsor an OFG Series or one of its components. The OFG Series template is made up of these components:

  • Basics Class
  • Hands-On Workshops (HOWs)
  • Garden Assistance Program (GAP) Workdays

People who have attended OFG Basics Classes or participated in some other way in an OFG program have repeatedly expressed interest in wanting to attend hands-on events to learn by doing -- practicing on another person's garden to build their skills and confidence before starting on their own landscape. The Series provides both in-class and in-field opportunities to understand and experience the steps to creating a successful OFG.

Note Note: The HOWs and GAP Workdays can be conducted outside of a series program. It is important that the host and professionals involved understand and teach the OFG principles and agree to follow the OFG sign criteria.

Initial Considerations: Budget, Time, Coordination

Just as with putting on other Surfrider events, hosting an OFG Series requires volunteer time, staying on top of coordinating components and making sure there are enough funds at the start.

The OFG Series is typically taught by a landscape professional. Professionals will likely expect compensation for their time. This time includes preparing for and leading the Class, Workshop, Workday and Patrol. Other Series costs can include: room and audio-video equipment rental, handouts, food, etc. Based on experience in South California, a chapter can expect a Series to cost between $3-$5,000.

Putting on the first Series can take a good chunk of time, between choosing a professional, gathering materials and doing outreach. Coordination is key so that tasks get done and are achieved on time. So before getting started on a Series, a chapter will want to be sure they have sufficient volunteer time commitment and monies in the bank or are prepared to hold a fundraiser.

Basics Class

Surfrider has a Basics Class template of PowerPoint slides, posted on the Resource tab of the OFG Program page: www.surfrider.org/programs. The Class covers CPR principles and practices, weaving them into a six-step process for creating a successful OFG:

  • Understand the Issues
  • Evaluate Your Site
  • Remediate Your Soil
  • Create Permeability and Retention
  • Build Native Habitat and Reduce Waste
  • Irrigate Properly

The class also covers OFG Series Program components.

In Appendix B, there are templates for Class slideshows, Class flyers, in-class "quizes" and resource handouts.

Identifying a Class Teacher

Surfrider was fortunate to kick off the OFG Program in Southern California with a sustainable landscape consortium (“G3” aka The Green Gardens Group, www.greengardensgroup.com) that was already teaching and practicing OFG principles and practices. G3 has developed a "Watershed Basics Class" curriculum and it is used by G3 teachers when teaching, under contract, for Surfrider chapters.

Qualifications to teach may include but are not restricted to:

OFG 9.jpg
  • Signing a simple agreement form requiring the teacher use a basic set of Surfrider OFG slides covering CPR and OFG program components (will be provided by National OFG Coordinator);
  • Submitting examples of OFG designs that the applicant created or likes that meet OFG sign criteria;
  • Demonstrated ability to teach effectively.


A step-by-step timeline and worksheet is provided in the Appendix. OFG volunteers and co-sponsors: Minimum 8 weeks out - Identify the site to hold the class and confirm what resources are provided by the site - e.g., audio/video (projector, screen for slideshow), chairs, tables – and what will need to be brought by the teacher(s).

  • Min. 6 weeks out - start promoting the class;
  • Min. 2 weeks out - request event insurance coverage from Surfrider Global (link)
  • Min. 1 week out – purchase food and drink.

Day Of:

  • Help with checking in attendees;
  • Tabling - answer questions, hand out materials, sell OFG books, and represent the chapter (eg., be a point of contact for those attending that want to volunteer OFG Committee);
  • Set up and break down.

Hands-On Workshops (HOWs)

G3 has developed Hands-On Workshops (HOWs), which are a professionally led, 3-4 hour advanced class with hands-on learning through either evaluating existing gardens or actually installing OFG components at an OFG installation. The 4 core HOWs include: Site Evaluation, Rain Water Harvesting and Sheet Mulching (remove turf, remediate soil), Plant and Irrigation, and Maintenance.

HOWs are a training ground in sustainable landscape and “green infrastructure” practices for Surfrider Chapter OFG leaders, do-it-yourselfers (DIY), landscape professionals and agency representatives. In order to cover the cost of the professional’s time, participants can be charged a marginal fee.

HOW Topic: Site Evaluation

The HOW on the topic “Site Evaluation” is the one a Chapter OFG Committee would likely hold after conducting a Basics Class. The host site is typically chosen from one of the Class attendees that are ready to go (determined by what is written in the Class evaluation form and follow-up discussion). The site can also be a public or commercial site. Two important factors to consider:

  • Visibility – will the garden be seen by a large number of people;
  • Transferability – can the typical residential property owner or renter see how to transfer what was done to their site, i.e., from a large site to a smaller one.
OFG 10.jpg

This is an opportunity to train the Basics Class attendees, the chapter OFG Sub-Com’t members and any others (landscape professionals, non-profits, government) in how to evaluate a site as a first step to designing an OFG. This just requires a site (home or commercial and public space with a home-like building) with no or few improvements and has turf. Landscapes professionals like those at G3 may have developed a HOW: Site Evaluation worksheet that they use during this HOW to:

  • Evaluate existing conditions – soil type and level of compaction, square footage of hardscape and estimated volume of runoff
  • Calculate size of the landscape, current water use and rainwater harvesting potential

This HOW can help attendees go home and do it themselves or communicate with a professional they hire to use the HOW: Site Evaluation worksheet to do a similar type of evaluation at their own home.


OFG volunteers and co-sponsors:

  • Minimum 4-6 weeks out – Identify the site to hold the Workshop. Inquire about what resources are provided by the site - e.g., audio/video (projector, screen for slideshow), chairs, tables – and what will need to be brought. Property owners/renters who are interested in hosting a HOW should provide the following to the Workshop leader:
    • For non-Site Evaluation HOW topics such as Rainwater Retention/Rain Garden and Planting and Irrigation - Copy of homeowner or professionally-produced landscape design is needed. If a homeowner chooses to create their own design, ask them to purchase a copy of the OFG book to help them draft the design.
    • Timing and scheduling of the HOW that corresponds with the Chapter OFG sub-Committee’s schedule.
    • Purchase all necessary materials, the list of which is provided by the Chapter OFG sub-Committee or a sustainable landscape professional the Sub-Committee works with.
    • Provide access to toilets, shaded rest area, and all tables, plates and utensils necessary for serving food to the Participants
  • Min. 4 weeks out – in addition to those who have attended a prior Basics Class, start promoting the Workshop to others who might be interested;
  • Min. 1 week out – host purchases food and drink.

Day Of:

  • Help with checking in attendees. Everyone must sign a Participatory Waiver so that Surfrider is not held liable for an accident, e.g., someone twisting their ankle. (link)
  • Tabling - answer questions, hand out materials, sell OFG books, and represent the chapter and be a point of contact for those attending that want to volunteer with the OFG Committee;
  • Set up and break down.

Garden Assistance Party (GAP)

In contrast to a HOW, the Garden Assistance Party (GAP) is more like a barn-raising. It is co-led by the applicant and chapters, with SF volunteers providing physical assistance in exchange for the applicant promoting themselves as a model for the neighborhood. In the Series model, the GAP is optimally held at the same location as the HOW. The GAP can also be done independently of a Series.

The concept here is to spark change in neighborhoods by helping those:

  • With highly visible locations, focusing on front yards;
  • Who see their gardens serving as an example for neighbors;
  • Who want to "pay it forward" and help others.

You and the host can use the GAP Agreement Form (Appendix D) to reach agreement on the responsibilities laid out for the host:

  • Create a design in line with CPR;
  • Gather all materials prior to the GAP workday;
  • Invite neighbors;
  • Provide food and drink as well as access to a toilet;
  • Agree to “pay it forward” – participate in future GAPs or other OFG task.

The host needs to prepare and fund a budget for items that may not be provided by GAP volunteers:

  • Removing non-climate appropriate plants – primarily, ornamental turf grass;
  • Purchasing materials - plants, compost, mulch and hardscape materials, and any irrigation supplies (moving from spray to drip irrigation);
  • If needed, paying for professional landscape design assistance.

Applicants must use the GAP Questionnaire (Appendix) to help determine how far along they are in meeting GAP Agreement requirements. A prep sheet (aka, GAP Questionnaire) and associated tasks/jobs is provided in Appendix D.


OFG 11.jpg
  • Minimum 6-8 weeks out – The Workday is typically done 6-8 weeks after a HOW on Site Evaluation to allow enough time for the host meet the host requirements, i.e., create a design, gather all materials, remove turf/sheet mulch if necessary. If the site is not the same location as the HOW, identify the site to hold the GAP Workday. (Note: Workdays can be done at any time if a GAP Questionnaire is completed, design and design review are completed, and there are sufficient participants to complete the tasks laid out.) Wherever the GAP Workday site is located, make sure that the garden design process has been started. If a homeowner chooses to create their own design, encourage them to purchase or borrow a copy of the OFG book to help them draft the design.
  • Minimum 4-6 weeks out – Garden design should be submitted for review for consistency with CPR. Until the OFG Committee members feel equipped to review garden designs, applicants must be willing to submit their designs for review by a professional familiar with CPR to ensure that the design meets CPR principles. It can take a couple of weeks for the professional to review, comments on and make final adjustments to the design and get it back to the host.
  • Min. 4 weeks out – In addition to sending a reminder to those who have attended the Series’ Basics Class, start promoting the Workday to others who might be interested, e.g., emails and attaching a flyer (link);
  • Min. 2 weeks out - request event insurance coverage from Surfrider Global (link)
  • Min. 1-2 weeks out - Tasks that must be performed by licensed contractors need to be completed, e.g., irrigation valve installation, structural elements, etc.
  • Min. 1 week out - Purchase all necessary materials, the list of which is provided by the Chapter OFG Committee or a sustainable landscape professional the Committee works with.
  • Day of:
    • Help with checking in attendees. Everyone must sign a Participatory Waiver so that Surfrider is not held liable for an accident, e.g., someone twisting their ankle. (link)
    • Tabling - answer questions, hand out materials, sell OFG books, and represent the chapter and be a point of contact for those attending that want to volunteer with the OFG Committee;
    • Set up and break down.

Organizing a Series

Surfrider Chapters can work with professionals to conduct the Program components. Here is a possible breakdown of tasks:

  • Professional
    • Teach the Classes and Workshops
    • Assist with identifying one attendee who is ready to host a Workshop and Workday
    • Review garden designs and work plans submitted by the Workday host or be hired by the host to do the design
    • Oversee Workdays
    • Conduct the first Lawn Patrol in order to train Surfrider Chapter volunteers and professionals for future Patrols
  • Surfrider Chapters
    • Coordinate date, time, locations reservation, outreach, day-of sign-in and food for Classes, Workshops and Workdays
    • Coordinate the location and date (as well as co-lead) of Lawn Patrols
  • Partners (see list below)
    • Provide a room to hold the Classes
    • Promote the Programs to their customers and participate in Series events
    • Provide information to Program participants about the OFG-related rebates and resources they offer
    • Help identify places to hold “HOW”s and “GAP”s
  • Possible Partners
    • Government agencies dealing with water quality, water supply and reducing green waste
    • Private water districts
    • Associations of landscape professionals: designers, contractors, architects
    • Plant nurseries
    • Landscape product representatives

Funding an OFG Series

Spending Chapter monies demonstrates your seriousness to government agencies and water districts to step up and match it, and more. Surfrider has worked with our Southern California partner, G3, to develop a menu and price list of conducting an OFG Series. This can be useful in budgeting for working with professionals in your area to offer such services. (Note on Lawn Patrol – The first Patrol could be conducted by a professional to train future Patrol leaders, and that is why there is a cost associated with it. If you have a competent Patrol leader, then there should be no cost.)


You can seek co-sponsorships of a Series with a government agency, non-profit organization and/or private sector company. Co-sponsorship helps build bridges between chapters and others. It can also help create the political pressure and “political space” for water quality and supply agencies to step up and work with you. Staff within these entities may want to collaborate, and could benefit from you showing the value and public interest in OFG. If we are going to heal watersheds, we have to act like watersheds and make connections.

Local Grants

Outdoor recreation companies - like Patagonia - offer store-based grants that have funded OFG programming and projects.

Charge participants

People pay for all kinds of classes and workshops, e.g., adult or continuing education, professional development, etc. It has been written elsewhere that people tend to value a service more when they have to pay for it, whether in cash or with their time. Also, chapters have limited funds and charging a fee can help recoup costs of sponsoring an event or Series.

Chapters have charged attendees to individual Basics Classes and HOWs, and have charged a Series fee. A fee to a Class or HOW might be $15, and a Series fee might be $40. Chapters may charge extra for the OFG book, covering the remainder of the cost with Chapter funds. Other organizations also charge for events. For example, Bay Friendly Gardens Program in Northern California charged $50 for a HOW on sheet mulching.

Chapters can set up online payment accounts such as PayPal to make it easier to deal with money.

Alternative Models

Your chapter might have an existing organizing model that works, so try that. There isn’t just one way to organize an OFG program. You can scale it to meet your capacity and interest. For example, other organizations use a Tupperware Party-like model to put on an event: the interested party has to demonstrate sufficient participation for a (OFG) representative to come to an event. An interested party can host a “mini OFG class” in the comfort of their own home if they gather a certain number of people – say 10-15. The OFG Sub-Committee would agree to provide them with a speaker and OFG materials.