The first day of summer, June 21st, approaches rapidly, marking an annual astronomical event (the Summer Solstice), the annual Garden Faire (more about that below), and perhaps a time for gardeners to review their calendar calendars.
For each year since 2005, the Garden Faire has convened in Scotts Valley as a regional celebration of sustainable gardening, water conservation, and healthy living, The program varies a bit each year, but there are certain constants:
First of these is consistent—and greatly appreciated—support of local water providers, specifically the San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Soquel Creek water districts. Their interest in the Garden Faire reflects official reports that close to 50% of residential water use happens outdoors, largely for garden irrigation. That usage is ok when it is done wisely, which generally includes:
- Using landscape plants that are appropriate for the local environment, particularly plants that are native to California or at least to our summer-dry climate, and avoiding tropical climate plants that require a lot of water; and
- Providing only the amount of water that plants need, by using drop irrigation, turning off irrigation after a rainy spell (or during!), and directing water to the plants rather than to paved surfaces.
Water conservation makes sense during periods of drought and is always good practice. Drought considerations could return at any time, so we should make wise water usage a matter of habit. Our payoff comes in the form of smaller water bills.
Our water districts also prioritize the protection of the watershed. As we consider the water cycle, we appreciate the importance of keeping synthetic chemicals out of our groundwater. For gardeners, good practice means using only organic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides in the landscape. These products are best for our water supply as well as for the quality of our soils and the wellbeing of all forms wildlife: mammals, birds, insects and, lest we forget, the incredible diversity of organisms that make up the soil food web.
Gardeners and water providers have common interests: practices that are consistent with water conservation and watershed protection are also strongly preferred for garden cultivation.
This year’s theme, “Cultivating Community in Times of Change,” a variation on previous themes, emphasizes timely and interconnected issues: growing plants and society, and the opportunities and challenges of current environmental and political conditions.
The Garden Faire presents messages along these lines in various ways, without preaching. The event includes knowledgeable Main Tent speakers on various aspects of sustainable gardening, in the Main Tent, and Nutrition Tent speakers on healthy foods. The Faire also includes vendors that have been selected for their compatibility with the Faire’s theme, and that offer a variety of garden-related products and services. Community groups also participate in offering information related to sustainable gardening and healthy living.
The occasion also includes musical entertainment and healthy food choices. All these elements combine to provide a pleasant, low-pressure environment to celebrate gardening, learn a bit about sustainability, and enjoy a sunny day among friendly members of the regional community. For more information, visit the Garden Faire’s website.
The Garden Faire is a free-admission event, made possible by local sponsors, modest fees paid by exhibitors, and a hard-working team of volunteers. Still, you will want to be prepared to purchase plants for your garden.
IF YOU GO
What: The 12the Annual Garden Faire
Who: The Garden Fair, Inc., a non-profit corporation.
Where: Skypark, Scotts Valley
When: 9:00 to 5:00, Saturday, June 17, 2017
Cost: Free admission, free parking.