Last week, the Goleta City Council — with some help from Cox Communications — decided to forgive the nearly $47,000 in fees that Fairview Gardens owed the city.
After the City Council said in April that the city would waive about $38,000 of that total if the farm could come up with the remaining $9,000, Cox Communications swooped in and helped Fairview Gardens out, writing them a $9,000 check.
“Cox got wind of our incredible community resource and of a way that they could help,” said Mark Tollefson, the farm’s executive director. “That says to me that there are people out there who know how and why Fairview is so important. It’s wonderful to see the community supporting us.”
The council further showed its own support by voting 4-1 to waive $5,000 in conditional use permit fees, which the farm needs for special events and its produce stand, which is slated to open on July 1. Councilmember Paula Perotte voted against that waiver, saying that her “no” had nothing to do with her support for Fairview Gardens.
“I’m not against the farm; I support you wholeheartedly,” she said. “It’s just that I feel that we’ve been very generous, and there are so many other nonprofits that are in such need.” Perotte said that she would have preferred for the farm to pay for the $5,000 in installments instead.
The farm’s board president, Doug Steigerwald, said he doesn’t question Perotte’s support and that the council’s generosity will be put to good use.
“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “We’ve been operating and trying to move forward, but we’ve had this burden of preexisting debt that we incurred, and now we can invest in the future.”
Fairview Gardens, Steigerwald explained, wants to “be more involved in the local food web,” train new farmers, and continue its mission of educating children about where food comes from.
“We are an education farm,” Tollefson said. “Our primary driver is around helping people understand why it is that local produce is important.”