The campaign to preserve 6.8 acres of agricultural land in Summerland reached a breakthrough moment last Tuesday when the Carpinteria school board voted to accept a $2.25 million offer from the Santa Barbara Agriculture and Farm Education Foundation. Founder Leslie Person Ryan called a Minnesota-based foundation — the Manitou Fund — the project’s “funding angel” and thanked the hundreds of individuals who donated and made pledges “to ensure that this land remains green for Summerland forever.”
Among the ag and education group’s work was outreach to veterans, the medically fragile, and low-income individuals and families to whom boxes of organic fruits and vegetables were made available at their Summerland food cart, Ryan said. “It’s amazing to see how appreciated that is.” As well, they’ve worked to bring farmland and consumers together to ensure people saw or even worked the land to know where their food came from.
They were by no means done fundraising, Ryan said, as legal fees would be paid and the ongoing educational program for schoolchildren would continue. For the school district, Superintendent Diana Rigby said the sale of the Whitney property ensured the funding to rebuild the Summerland School.