RANCHO SANTA FE — This year marked the fourth consecutive year that the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club hosted its annual grant awards ceremony. On May 23, members of the garden club and grant recipients gathered to celebrate the 10 organizations which received a combined total of $50,881 in funding.
First up to speak was Debby Syverson for the Friends of San Pasqual Academy, which received $10,000. In 2017, the group was granted the same amount so that it could build the Serenity Garden at the school campus which serves foster teens. According to Syverson, teens who have endured trauma, abuse or neglect find solace in the garden.
“It’s a designated space in nature that calms and relaxes — you helped us create the Serenity Garden,” she told members of the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club.
The money this year, she said, would go to financially support new plantings and a tiller and auger for a new tractor. Syverson said the school campus has 14 acres that cultivate certified organic produce sold under the name of Dragon Organics.
Syverson said students are going to paint rocks and place them in the Serenity Garden to recognize the garden club, which made the Serenity Garden possible.
Caitlin Kreutz, Parks and Recreation assistant manager for the Rancho Santa Fe Association, was also on hand to accept two grants at $7,000 each for two Association-owned properties: the Osuna Ranch and Arroyo Property. In 2017, the Association received funds for the same properties.
Kreutz showed before and after photos of the improvements at the Osuna Ranch from those grants in 2017, which expanded the walking trails that were enjoyed by even non-equestrian Covenant members. Indigenous shrubs and trees were also planted. The grant funding this year would further extend the path and landscaping. The trail, Kreutz said, would run parallel to Via de la Valle and veer east toward the northern portion of the property.
The Arroyo Property, which Kreutz described as an open space preserve, will continue its beautification project.
“We will plant native trees and shrubs,” she said, adding how non-native plants will be removed to promote fire safety. “We can’t wait to get started on these projects.”
Solutions for Change, which helps the homeless by offering sober housing, also owns an aquaponics farm operation in Vista. It operates a two-acre farm and 30,000-square-foot greenhouse. The farm grows more than 100,000 pounds of certified organic produce every year. Robert Webster of Solutions for Change accepted the $6,776 grant, which will go toward equipment such as a blower, air stones and a fogger for its aquaponics farm.
Webster said Solutions for Change helps the homeless through job training and reunites families.
Christina McGoldrick, garden coordinator of Hope Elementary, brought an enormous bouquet of freshly grown sunflowers for members of the garden club. She accepted a $5,000 grant while sharing how the money will go toward the further enhancement of its Native Habitat Garden, and International and Butterfly Waystation.
Last year, the school received $4,500 which helped cultivate its gardens. McGoldrick said these gardens will also be used for the school curriculum named the Next Generation Science Standards for kindergarten through fifth grade students.
Ecolife received $4,500, which will provide 15 Aquaponic kits and curriculum to 15 schools in underprivileged neighborhoods. The grant was $1,000 more than last year.
Other grant recipients were San Elijo Conservancy for $3,200, Park Dale Elementary for $3,000, Oak and Valley Middle School for $3,000.
The Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society received $1,405, which was accepted by its board president John Vreeburg. He explained funds would be used for the removal of a Podocarpus tree in the Historical Society’s courtyard area causing root damage — the extra money would also replenish plantings including water-wise succulents.
“Thank you very much to the garden club, and we thank you for your support,” Vreeburg said.