June 4, 2008--Nineteen college students from Cal State University Channel Islands spent two weekends clearing non-native grasses and plants from Ormond Beach in Oxnard. The students, mostly business majors, volunteered as part of their Resource Management class. Their efforts resulted in three, eight-foot by six-foot piles of non-native materials that will be recycled into mulch by Agromin, the green materials recycler for cities in Ventura County.
"I'm in awe at what they accomplished in such a short period," says Nancy Pederson, who heads the Ormond Pointe Native Plant Nursery and Restoration Project.
During their work weekends, college students planted native coreopsis and lupine grown by kids at Briggs Elementary School in Santa Paula and by members of the Ventura County Master Gardeners. The plants were grown from seeds in soil donated by Agromin.
The college students also used black plastic from Agromin to solarize some of the non-native plants that had intruded in the area. " The plastic is placed over the non-native vegetation for several months, baking the soil and keeps the sunlight out," explains Pederson. "This process makes it easier to remove dense, non-native vegetation. We'll then plant native milkweed grown at Briggs Elementary School."
As the college students began clearing a hill on the site, they found that it wasn't a hill at all. "Underneath the dirt was a mound of concrete that someone had discarded," says Pederson. "Construction workers used the area as a dump. The students removed the non-native plants and grasses but left a bit of the concrete visible as a reminder of what was done. The hill will eventually be planted in coreopsis and lupine."
The 10-year restoration project of Ormond Beach started in 2006 and covers approximately 11 acres of degraded wetlands currently owned by the Oxnard Waste Water Department. Volunteers have succeeded in restoring about 1 1/2 acres. "The hard work by the college students put us ahead schedule," says Pederson. "The kids were there waiting for me and were ready to work. They could have written a paper to satisfy their class assignment, but chose to work on this project instead."
Pederson gives Agromin credit for helping the project succeed. "If we didn't have Agromin's generous help, we couldn't have done what we've done," says Pederson. "We couldn't afford to buy potting soil or the solar plastic. The Briggs Elementary School didn't have the money to buy soil for planting and many Master Gardeners are on fixed incomes so they couldn't afford the soil and seeds for the project. Agromin donated it all."
"Anytime we see an opportunity to recycle green materials that we can eventually return to the earth, we're happy to help," says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CFO. "The Ormond Pointe restoration project is a great way for residents of all ages to contribute to restoring the beauty of our area. It's also an opportunity to teach kids, from elementary school to college age, about the importance of green recycling and becoming good stewards of the land."