Workshops, new workforce development programs create new opportunities
Sustainable Solano, a local nonprofit with work in sustainable landscaping, community gardens, building a local food system and bringing these skills to the public and students, is transforming a Benicia garden through a series of workshops that will teach participants how to capture rainwater, how to properly use greywater from the laundry machine in the garden and the importance of selecting plants that work together to create a healthy, fruitful, waterwise food forest garden.
Land and Water Caretakers Course
Sustainable Solano has offered similar workshops throughout the county through its Solano Sustainable Backyards program funded by the Solano County Water Agency. New to this Benicia project is inclusion of the Land and Water Caretakers course participants, who have been involved in the design of the project as part of their instruction on sustainable landscaping. This is the first year of the new Caretakers certification course offered by Sustainable Solano through Benicia Adult Education. Students will be part of the hands-on work of installing this demonstration food forest garden and then use their knowledge from class and skills from the hands-on work to inform creating a garden design for another Benicia home.
Liberty High School internship program
In addition to the adult education program, Sustainable Solano is leading an internship for interested students at Liberty High School to learn about a whole systems approach to problems, including designing for a sustainable landscape. These students will follow a similar program to the adult education class and will also work toward a Caretakers certificate. Local experts will talk to students about everything from water conservation to composting and healthy soil. Travis Credit Union will provide personal finance and small business finance instruction for both of the Caretakers courses.
Sustainable Solano is actively working to bring other leadership and workforce development programs to the county in the coming months. These programs are funded in Benicia through the second amendment to the Valero/Good Neighbor Steering Committee Settlement Agreement. Republic Services also supports the Caretakers program, and the adult education Caretakers course public workshops are funded through the Solano County Water Agency.
Opportunities for Students and Property Owners
These programs create not only opportunities for those looking to learn more about sustainability and practical skills, but also for local property owners. Homeowners can fill out a Sustainable Landscaping Interest Form to see if their property might fit the needs of various programs. As the leadership and workforce development program grows, Sustainable Solano is particularly looking for sites in Benicia that would benefit from removing water-hungry lawns.
(The attached photos are of the Land and Water Caretakers class (adult education) testing the soil and starting to prepare the garden. They can be used with credit to Sustainable Solano.)