Supervisors approve grant dollars for area groups

ENCINITAS — The County Board of Supervisors approved a series of big-dollar grants that will benefit several of the area’s largest nonprofit groups, including the group charged with developing the former site of Pacific View Elementary School.

The Board of Supervisors last week voted unanimously to approve its neighborhood reinvestment grant program, which doles out dollars to county departments, public agencies, and to nonprofit community organizations for one-time community, social, environmental, educational, cultural or recreational needs.

Among the major recipients in North County were the Encinitas Arts, Culture and Ecology Alliance, the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and the Leichtag Foundation’s Coastal Roots Farm.

The Alliance, the group working on a plan to transform the forlorn school site into an arts center, received $150,000 to fix the roof, walls and flooring in the buildings. The Solana Center received $30,000 to develop a mid-sized composting demonstration site at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Coastal Roots Farm received $25,000 for the purchase of a refrigerated produce truck.

For the Alliance, the donation marks its largest funding award since the Encinitas City Council selected it as the group to steward the short-term and long-term future for the site in 2015. So far, the group’s work has been relegated to community clean-up events, but organizers said the grant will allow the group to do its first substantial work on the site.

The Solana Center’s grant also comes at a critical time, as seven months ago, Assembly Bill 1826, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in September 2014, went into effect. The law requires businesses to recycle their organic waste — lawn clippings, food waste and other similar waste — rather than sending it to landfills.

Also, CalRecycle published new composting regulation that loosens certain restrictions on mid-size composting efforts. This has led to a rise in interest in composting, which also led to a need for proper training of operators of such composting sites, said Jessica Toth, the Solana Center’s executive director.

Without proper training, compost operations run the risks of polluting waterways through the stormwater system, creating vector and odor problems, and propagating harmful pathogens, which could find their way into edible gardens.

“It’s great to see the interest in composting, but we want to make sure that we’re teaching operators best practices so they can avoid some of the problems associated with mid-scale composting without proper training and best practices,” Toth said. “We are really excited about the grant and the opportunity it allows us to pursue.”

Toth said the Solana Center will raise the rest of the funds for the demonstration site through its fundraising efforts and should have something at the fairgrounds by spring 2017.

The Coastal Roots Farm’s $25,000 grant pays two-thirds of the cost of the produce truck that will allow the farm, which has been in operation since 2014, to double the number of at-risk people it serves through its fresh produce deliveries.

“The truck will allow the Farm to transport perishable biodynamic produce at optimal temperatures to low-income, at-risk community members who would otherwise not have access to this quality food,” said Sharyn Goodson, the Leichtag Foundation’s director of philanthropic strategy.

“With the addition of a refrigerated truck, the Farm’s produce distribution can increase significantly, at least doubling its current service of 1,170 people each year.  Over the lifetime of the truck, at least 10,000 people will be served,” Goodson said.

The balance of the $35,000 comes from donations raised from community organizations at the Farm’s annual Sukkot Festival and individual donors.

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