Coastkeeper expands free water-wise workshops for underserved communities in Orange County

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On Jan. 25, Orange County Coastkeeper announced that it will use a $50,000 grant from Boeing to help more people in underserved communities conserve water and save money. The nonprofit will use funds to expand its SmartScape program — a free service that assists property owners in transforming their yards with drought-tolerant landscaping. Coastkeeper expects to launch new bilingual workshops in Stanton, Fullerton and Santa Ana this year.

“This expansion means we can better support communities where families may have missed rebates due to language barriers,” says Ray Hiemstra, Coastkeeper’s associate director of programs.

Coastkeeper is working with the cities of Garden Grove and Anaheim to host neighborhood workshops, raise awareness at community events and provide drought-tolerant landscaping information in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Launched in 2015, Coastkeeper’s SmartScape program assists property owners, landscaping contractors, businesses and residents to transition their landscapes to lower water use. Experts offer support at every step of the process from identifying financial incentives, design, installation and long-term management of the new landscape. By transforming grass-based landscaping to SmartScapes, residents and business owners can conserve water, eliminate dry-weather runoff, reduce maintenance costs and reduce carbon emissions.

The heart of the Smartscape program is the Coastkeeper Garden — a unique, sustainable garden that showcases plants from six Southern California native habitats as well as drought-tolerant plants on 2.5-acres of land next to Santiago Canyon College. The garden exists as a tool for property owners considering a SmartScape to see potential landscaping ideas in full display and teach important environmentally friendly gardening.

Coastkeeper’s SmartScape services are available to Orange County businesses and residents that want to turn their property into environmentally conscious, water-saving works of art.

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