2020-Sweetwater proposed program - Maintenance Gardener Development

Sweetwater proposed program 2020- Maintenance Gardener Development


Sweetwater proposes to work with, learn from, and re-train local maintenance gardeners to have the skills they need to install and maintain water-wise landscapes, rainwater harvesting earthworks like swales, berms, basins, and dry creek beds, and rain tanks.  Calculations for area of catchment, size of basins, basin architecture, downspout diversion, the role of gravity, slope, rock artistry, and seeing run-on as a resource instead of a nuisance are some of the topics we are sharing. Workshop will be about installation or maintenance of such systems, including proper maintenance of water wise gardens.

What are the goals and objectives of this program?

  • To set up a structure to provide re-training opportunities for landscape maintenance gardeners to be able to understand and install water-wise features and systems and landscapes, and to maintain such landscapes and installations.

Sweetwater Collaborative has provided water-wise awareness, education and re-landscaping in our community for the past seven years. Many of our core group members have been studying andworking with these concepts for up to dozen years.  We are already doing hands-on workshops installing water-wise features in our community, and have funding to partially cover costs of some such installations. We recognize the need for re-training landscape maintenance gardeners to include them in the necessary paradigm shift for our community.

Program details- draft

The program will pay a stipend to gardeners for their participation in hands-on workshops to learn the skills by doing, as well as classroom time to get the concepts and background for the field work. For the pilot program, we will provide stipends of $100 per 5-hour hands-on workshop for up to fifteen landscape maintenance gardeners.  Participants will need to attend a class for each workshop in order to receive the stipend.

However, the program will not go forward without administrative oversight, accounting, and follow up, promotion, and instructors.  Some of the funding for workshops will be provided by fee for service and, for workshops in the City of Santa Barbara, a contribution by the City Water Conservation dept.

This proposal is for 6 workshops for up to 15 participants over the course of 18 months. This time frame allows skills to be learned at various times of the year, and for hosts can be found for hands-on workshops. This pilot program will be offered in Spanish. Subsequent programs may also be offered in English or as bilingual activities.

Outcomes will be measured through ongoing data collected by the program coordinator, Barbara Wishingrad, perhaps with the help of an intern.

Data on these questions will be collected:
How many maintenance gardeners were contacted through outreach? 50+ is successful.

Was the contact through phone, email or face-to-face? Through recommendations/their employer?

How many had a conversation with the outreach person from Sweetwater about this opportunity?  50% is successful
How many of those who discussed the opportunity showed interest? 50% is successful
Of those, how many signed up for the hands-on workshops? 50% is successful or when filled to capacity.

How many showed interest in doing the program at a later date?

Of those, how many showed up once? Twice? All six times? Four workshops or more is successful, although six times is better. Is this too low a bar?

There will also be a skills evaluation of each participant by Sweetwater staff, probably developed by Fred Hunter, Josh Graning, and Barbara Wishingrad.  The evaluation will be a continuum of skills instead of a set level that should be achieved over this short time.  Openness to learning, willingness to take direction, and ability to share one’s own expertise may be as important as learning exact shaping of basins or determining capacity of greywater systems. We do not expect instant conversion to skills for the new paradigm in six workshops.

Other reflections on outcomes will posed more as questions: What could be changed about the program structure/workshops/classes to better meet the needs of those in the program and the needs of our community? What are the strengths of this approach? What are the next steps to reach more landscape workers and effect broader change in our community?  Do we want to put an apprenticeship program or certification in place? YES. Would that help or hinder our goals? Where can we look for funding to continue this work?

Barbara Wishingrad will compile documentation about outcomes of the program.

Budget- draft

Admin 3 hours a week at $60/hour over the course of 18 months to cover promotion, general program coordination, oversight, payroll, accounting, documenting activities and measuring outcomes. 12.9 hours a month x 18 = 232.20 hours x $60/ hour =$13,932. 

Instructors and workshop coordinator’s rates are $75/hour per position, and the average number of hours each puts in to prepare for, implement, and follow up on a hands-on workshop is 10. Workshops are best implemented with two instructors, especially in this program, where we want to be able to give individual attention to each participant.  So the cost of instructors and coordinator for each workshop would be $2250. $75 x 3= $225 x 10= $2250 x 6= $13,500

Sweetwater employees will forgo dual language pay rates for this pilot program; those costs can be considered in-kind donations

Stipends $100 stipend per participant per workshop - ~5 hours so $20/hour- 6 workshops, 15 participants= 600 x 15=$9000

Data collection, Outcomes, follow up and Accountability- included in Admin budget


Estimated Costs of this program:


Total Estimated Cost of Program:            


$ 31,032- 36,432


Not to Exceed: 

$ 36,432

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