ENCINITAS — Visitors at the San Diego Botanic Garden might not think twice when they buy a cup of joe from the refreshment area next to the gift shop.
But the stand and adjacent patio area represent a substantial collaborative effort between the garden, the county and a regional nonprofit that helps disabled adults achieve independence.
A host of dignitaries attended the July 31 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the coffee kiosk and refreshment area, including District 3 Supervisor Dave Roberts, Botanic Garden President and CEO Julian Duval and officials from the San Diego Zoo.
“The garden is a true oasis here in our county,” Roberts said. “We are always looking for ways the county can collaborate with the garden to take it to the next level. This project was perfect for a neighborhood reinvestment grant because it enhances people’s experience at the garden.”
The garden sits on 37 acres owned almost entirely by the county, which leases it out to the Botanic Gardens foundation. About 4.5 acres of the property is owned by the city.
The $20,000 grant paid for the renovations to the refreshment area, which then paved the way for the kiosk, which is an extension of the Botanic Garden’s partnership with Kearny Mesa-based Employment & Community Options.
The nonprofit, which provides employment placement and other training for adults with developmental disabilities, has, for six months, provided the Botanic Garden with workers to do light maintenance around the grounds.
Employment & Community Options CEO Nancy Batterman said Friday that the organization was looking for a location for its second coffee kiosk — it operates one at the San Diego Regional Center — when the Botanic Garden started the renovation.
“The timing was serendipitous to say the least,” Batterman said. “It has been a great opportunity for our workers to experience working in this wonderful environment, and I am glad it will continue.”
Three workers will take on the shifts at the cart, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. all but one day of the year.