The sun was yawning an hour or so above the horizon. It cast long shadows and shot streams of light in the avocado orchard through which Goleta resident Lalo Mora was walking. He was on a routine inspection to check for insect pests, expecting to also see predator insects such as lacewings fluttering in the light.

Instead, he saw silken strings that twinkled from branch to branch, signs of the destructive spider mite.

The time was more than 25 years ago, when it began to dawn on Mora that green gardening was the way to go. The presence of the spider mite was related to the extermination of its natural predators, which was the result of earlier helicopter spraying to rid the orchard of the avocado thrip, Mora said.

Since then, Mora has become among the first of those to be trained as Green Gardeners in the 10-year-old Green Gardener Program of Santa Barbara County.

The next round of the SBCC Continuing Education classes will begin at 2:30 p.m. April 14 for orientation/registration at the Schott Center, Room 31, 310 W. Padre St., and continue for 15 weeks. Classes are taught in English and Spanish.

Click here for more information on the Green Gardener Program and an expanded version of Mora’s profile.

— Alison Jordan is a water conservation coordinator for the city of Santa Barbara.