Innovative program launches to provide job training, promote water conservation and save tax dollars
Olivenhain Municipal Water District kicked off the design phase of its sustainable landscape demonstration garden Tuesday afternoon by welcoming Mira Costa College landscape architecture students and the Surfrider Foundation. In a unique partnership, students will spend the fall semester designing a sustainable landscape demonstration garden at OMWD’s headquarters. This garden will provide an example of how public agencies can work together with local colleges to provide valuable hands-on experience that students need to thrive in their future careers while simultaneously offering a public service to the community and saving tax dollars.
Megan Fairleigh, a Mira Costa horticulture instructor, recognized OMWD’s plans to construct a sustainable landscape demonstration garden as a partnership opportunity, allowing for service to the community while providing her landscape design students with real-world experience. OMWD began joint efforts with Mira Costa in May, noting the benefit of procuring a quality design at nearly no cost to its ratepayers while also helping to instill the values of water-efficient landscape techniques in the next generation of local landscape architects and designers. The Surfrider Foundation, which has partnered with OMWD in promoting the former’s Ocean-Friendly Garden program by which to minimize urban runoff flows to the ocean, supports the project due to the Ocean-Friendly principles being integrated into the garden’s ultimate design.
Mira Costa’s Horticulture 230 course session at OMWD headquarters provided the class with its first opportunity to analyze the location at which the garden’s ultimate design will be constructed and to interact with OMWD staff to clarify the vision for the garden.
Ms. Fairleigh stated, “I am very much looking forward to partnering with OMWD on their sustainable landscape demonstration garden. This project is a perfect microcosm of the current issues in sustainable landscape design and will prove to be an excellent learning opportunity for my students. This project perfectly fits with our mission at California's community colleges, and career and technical education programs in particular, which is to get our students jobs. A real project for a high-profile municipal client that will actually be built is an ideal portfolio piece and will show future employers that Mira Costa students have hands-on experience and real-world knowledge.”
Mira Costa student Meghan Blair expressed excitement at the opportunity, noting that “It is such a great opportunity to get away from the typical residential yard and out into the community to do something positive for the greater good."
In the midst of major construction at its campus, located at 1966 Olivenhain Road in Encinitas, OMWD began planning earlier in the year to transform its current landscape into an interpretive garden showcasing sustainable principles that can be recreated in a residential setting. OMWD was required to update landscaping at its campus as a permit condition with the City of Carlsbad. Upon completion, the sustainable landscape demonstration garden will cover approximately 7,000 square feet at OMWD’s campus. Construction of the sustainable landscape demonstration garden is expected to begin in early 2011 with completion projected for later that summer.
Design concepts, sustainable landscape principles and guidelines, and up-to-date information about the sustainable landscape demonstration garden project will be available on the project’s webpage at www.olivenhain.com.
Kimberly Thorner, OMWD's General Manager, provides students with her
agency's vision for the garden project
Joey Randall of OMWD (center) and Megan Fairleigh (right) lead students
on a site visit at OMWD headquarters