by Scott Ashton, Oceanside Living Magazine
In their efforts to save money on water and play their part in conservation efforts Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church has turned much of their property into an inviting venue for the community.
The two-fold effort includes a large xeriscape project in the front of the church along with a community garden on the back of the property.
According to Pastor Allen Kolkman the front of the church used to be just grass, which was very costly to water, and was hard to keep green. Members of the church collaborated with a local landscape company to create a beautiful front yard, highlighted by dozens of plants along with walking paths inviting the neighbors in for a stroll.
Kolkman said that most of the plants will require little water after the first year of growth and that the church’s water bill is expected to eventually be cut in half.
According to Kolkman the feedback from the neighbors has been very positive and some have been inspired to look into xeriscape projects for their own properties.
The back side of the church property features a large community garden managed by North County Community Services. The church provided the land and took responsibility for the grading and irrigation along with the soil enhancement. NCCH uses some of the food from the garden to feed their pre-schoolers and also to donate to food banks.
The other plots within the garden are leased by community members, mostly from Oceanside, but some from as far away as Cardiff and San Clemente. Individuals pay a nominal annual fee to help cover the cost of the water.
Gardens are all organic with no pesticides allowed. Even the rabbits are welcome, according to Kolkman.