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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 5:15 am | Fair 47º


Fairview Gardens at Forefront of Connecting Land, Community

More than a flower garden, a place to take in tea and a view, Fairview Gardens is at the forefront of a change in how we use our land and connect to the world around us.

A nonprofit educational farm with a mission, Fairview Gardens, at 598 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta, acts to build critical connections among community, agriculture and education. From the organic food produced there to the connecting of lives to our food source, to nature and to the community, Fairview Gardens nourishes deeply.

However rich its soil may be, Fairview Gardens is nothing without the community. It needs us to sow into it; it is a farm in need of farmers, a teacher waiting for pupils. It is a connecting force, a force for change, and it is in need of your support.

Executive director Mark Tollefson, formerly of Santa Barbara’s Wilderness Youth Project, sees the 12½ acres that comprise the urban farm as being much like the churches and schools that surround it. When invested in, it can provide for “a higher order of thought, and a chance to let something go,” Tollefson said.

It provides a chance to steward not only the incredible farmland of Goleta, but also the children we are raising in this community. The benefits of contact with nature for mental, physical and spiritual health are significant and well documented. Nature is important to children’s development in every major way — intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving and intellectual development.

As an urban farm, Fairview Gardens provides an ideal space for connecting our children to nature. Beyond the fact that you can go down there any time and literally dig your hands into the soil as a volunteer, Fairview Gardens also offers an after-school program as well as farm camp during the summer months.

Through time spent on the farm, children are not only connecting with nature, but they are also learning about our greatest source of food. Kids who previously would not eat their vegetables have watched in amazement as Tollefson has pulled carrots from the ground, washed them and provided them as a snack. Parents have reported back with enthusiasm that these same kids now not only eat vegetables, but they eat them with pride in their knowledge of where the food came from. One meaningful interaction with the farm, and the lives of these children are impacted for the better.

As we lose farmers and pave over farmland in the name of progress, children are not being passed the knowledge of our food source and sustainable farming methods. Small farms and family farms are being shut down at an alarming rate, while factory farms dominate, thriving upon government legislation and questionable farming methods. There is a growing need to replace farmers and equip our young people with the tools needed to cultivate land and grow food in a sustainable way that benefits us all.

Beyond an enthusiasm for teaching our youth about farming, Fairview Gardens holds classes for the community to attend. These classes range from how to grow a garden, to cooking classes, from bee-keeping to how to take your chicken from its coop to your dinning room table.

This rich land is an exciting place in a time when many are seeking to connect to the earth and to each other. It is at the forefront of a revolution for change in how we utilize our earth and engage with and build our communities. Real connections are made as one works side by side, outdoors, with neighbors. Away from technology, steeped in fresh air, on life giving soil, Fairview Gardens offers many opportunities to engage with the people around us. Many have arrived as strangers, but left the farm as friends.

Whether you are touring the farm, volunteering your time, taking a class or simply choosing to spend time outside on the farm, Fairview Gardens welcomes you, as it is truly a place for all of us.

The farm needs us as much as we need it, however. As it is a life-sustaining piece of land that enriches our community profoundly, we need to invest into Fairview Gardens. You can help! Workers are needed in every area, from tending the crops to making repairs on the farm. Your expertise and giftings are needed there, whether it is in organizing the farm office to run more efficiently, or developing a campaign to draw attention to this treasure in our community. Currently, they are working on moving the farm stand and are looking for volunteers to be a part of the work crew.

Your time, your talents, your dollars are necessary for its survival. If you would like to be a part of the progressive, nurturing, healthy environment of Fairview Gardens, please stop by anytime or contact the farm to offer your help. Invest in this place of fellowship, education and restoration to our land. Invest in our future and be nourished.

Fairview Gardens is open to the public every day from 10 a.m. to sunset. For more information, call 805.967.7369.

— Anne Manriquez represents Fairview Gardens.

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