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Santa Barbara County Green Gardener Program. California Irrigation Institute 2008 Conference January 31, 2008 Helena Wiley von Rueden Senior Program Specialist Santa Barbara County Water Agency. Program description.

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santa barbara county green gardener program

Santa Barbara County Green Gardener Program

California Irrigation Institute 2008 Conference

January 31, 2008

Helena Wiley von Rueden

Senior Program Specialist

Santa Barbara County Water Agency


Program description

A bilingual training program in resource efficient and pollution prevention practices for landscape maintenanceprofessionals


Program goals

  • Increase efficient use of water & other resources and reduce pollution on landscape sites
  • Provide an economic incentive for gardeners to participate in training program
  • Educate the public as to the benefits of sustainable landscaping
  • Improve appearance and health of local landscapes

Background: our community

Our community

  • Population: ~400,000 Countywide
  • 8 incorporated cities
  • Rainfall: 18” rain per year
  • Water Sources: include two USBR reservoirs (one for groundwater recharge only), State Water, local groundwater supplies

Background: water conservation

  • Santa Barbara County Regional Water Efficiency Program began in 1990
    • GG program began in 2000
  • 17 water providers plus County Water Agency
  • 7 California Urban Water Conservation Council members

Background: landscape community

  • Small to medium size firms
  • High end landscape architecture and design firms
  • “One man” landscape maintenance contractors and gardeners
  • Large percentage of gardeners Spanish speakers without significant landscape training

How GGP works

  • 2 locations: Santa Barbara and Santa Maria community colleges
  • 3 bilingual Standardclasses per year
  • 1 English Advanced class per year
  • 10 weeks, once class per week (2.5 hours per class)
  • Classroom and field exercises
  • One main bilingual instructor, plus guest speakers
  • $35 materials fee

Standardized Curriculum

  • Standardized curriculum includes:
    • PowerPoint slides
    • Teacher materials incl. field exercises
    • Student binder and materials

Example slide from irrigation class


Curriculum Topics

  • Topics include:
    • Soils
    • Irrigation: water, soil, plant interactions
    • Irrigation: scheduling
    • Irrigation: troubleshooting
    • Fertilizers
    • Compost and mulch
    • Integrated pest management
    • Pruning
    • “Right plant, right place”
    • Air quality

Example slide from irrigation class


Student Materials

  • Student binder
  • Soil probe
  • Catch cans
  • Green Gardener hat
  • Graduation certificate
  • Green Gardener ID card


  • Guest Speakers
  • Families Invited
  • Hats!
  • Food!


  • Logo
  • Radio ads to promote class
  • Community college class schedules
  • Flyers

Promotion of Gardeners

  • Green Gardener List
    • Distributed by water purveyors, nurseries, landscape supply stores
  • Green Gardener Website
  • Radio ads after each class to promote the list
  • GG hat, certificate and card
  • Provides incentive for gardeners to enroll, customers to hire

Continuing Education

  • Annual renewal process for ID card and GG listing on website
  • 2 hours continuing education
    • Video
    • Classes through various providers
    • Customer surveys
    • Self Assessment Tool

Change from Certification Model

  • No longer a “certification” program
  • “Certification” implies a guarantee of service
  • Certification implies a tested level of knowledge
  • Fair testing is difficult given language and education barriers
  • “Certification” available through other programs

New “Training” Model

  • List valued by customers and gardeners with or without the word “certification”
  • Training model can be a stepping stone for landscapers to gain more education
  • Graduation remains contingent on attendance rather than testing, maintaining access for all


  • 17 Standard classes 2000-2007
  • 5 Advanced classes 2000-2007
  • 813 Standard Green Gardeners
    • 523 Private Contractors
    • 83 Agency Staff
    • 51 hobbyists
  • 214 up-to-date with continuing education requirement
  • 122 Advanced Green Gardeners


  • USBR and State grant funds to develop program ($$$)
    • Develop standardized curriculum
    • Initial consultant time
    • Web design
    • Advertising and development of marketing materials – brochure, fliers, etc.
    • Self Assessment Tool
  • Currently funded through local partnerships ($)
    • ~$20,000 annual budget, not including staff time


  • Diverse partners have shared goals of efficient resource use, education, sustainable landscaping, and community development
  • Combining landscape education programs increases audience and impact of message

Private Companies

Golden State Water Company

La Cumbre Mutual Water Company

All Around Landscape SupplyAqua-Flo Supply

Ewing Irrigation

Santa Barbara Bank & Trust

Water Districts

Carpinteria Valley Water DistrictGoleta Water DistrictMontecito Water District

Public Agencies

City of Santa Barbara

City of Santa MariaCity of Buellton

City of LompocCity of Solvang

County of Santa Barbara Water AgencySanta Barbara County Air Pollution Control DistrictCounty of Santa Barbara Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division


Allan Hancock CollegeSanta Barbara City College


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden


Next Steps

  • Revamp Advanced Class offering
    • Link to City College Environmental Horticulture Program
  • Continue to improve continuing education program
  • Increase promotion of the GG list
  • Increase bilingual promotion of the class and program

For more information…

  • Helena von Rueden, Santa Barbara County Water Agency
    • (805) 568-3541
  • Visit