Apparently, Santa Barbara is not the only town in the region to boast its very own botanic garden. Over an iced mocha and a biscuit (three times toasted, please), I learned from Puck Erickson-Lohnas that the Santa Ynez Valley has one of its own. In 2008, the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden Foundation, including Erickson-Lohnas as one of the founders, established the garden on land adjacent to River View Park, a community park bordering the Santa Ynez River in Buellton.
In addition to being one of the cofounders of the botanic garden, Erickson-Lohnas is also a principal at Arcadia Studio — a landscape architecture firm here in Santa Barbara. She is engaging, involved, extremely community-minded, funny, and, above all, an artist who is passionate about landscape design, soil, and growing things — not unlike a clean hippie with a good job.
By perusing the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden’s mission statement, I learned that in addition to fostering new approaches to environmental education and the cultivation of an appreciation for the natural world, the garden also encourages community collaboration.
To illustrate, Erickson-Lohnas explained, “The garden is an incubator for community interaction and creativity. One of our boardmembers, Steve Schultz, manages the garden and has volunteered thousands of hours. Along with another volunteer, Jim Pugh, they cleared our secondary trail by hand.” She continued, “Another Santa Ynez Valley local, craftsman Pat Carson, collaborated with other garden members on the design of the Botanic Garden’s custom steel shed, which is a beautifully crafted piece of contemporary architecture.”
But wait … there’s more. This Saturday at the River View Park in Buellton, the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden is hosting the 14th Annual Santa Ynez Valley Earth Day, which includes more than 100 eco-friendly exhibitors, demonstrations, family activities, a food court, a beer garden, and live music by Jeff Pine, The Ruben Lee Dalton Band, and The Caverns.
If you’re like me, you’re probably asking, “Hey, what gives? Didn’t we already have Earth Day?” Well, it seems that the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association chose the official Earth Day and the park as their venue for their spring wine-tasting event. Not to be deterred, the Botanic Garden made lemonade from the lemons because, as Erickson-Lohnas explained, “It was actually a gift. We realized that every day is Earth Day in the Santa Ynez Valley, and we can welcome exhibitors from other areas by hosting our Earth Day in May.”
The Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden hosts the 14th Annual S.Y.V. Earth Day on Saturday, May 21, noon-5 p.m., at River View Park (151 Sycamore Dr., Buellton). For more information, visit santaynezvalleybotanicgarden.org. To watch a short film of the garden by Bear Erickson of Erickson Sound Labs, visit youtube.com/embed/uwE2bYI5fjg.