John Gachina left a legacy to his employees, the landscape industry, water management and his family. I continue to be amazed at all the nice things I hear about John when his name is mentioned. Recently I learned about The Farm John started and the people who benefit from it.
The Farm was launched in January 2014 and consists of a ¼ acre connected to a construction yard about a mile from Gachina Landscape Management’s main office. This was literally some extra land used to store the things landscape companies need to store. John sensed there may be some waste here and wanted to do something “good” with the land.
For years John was active with JobTrain in the Bay Area. JobTrain is an organization committed to helping those who are most in need to succeed. Their purpose is to improve the lives of people in the community through assessment, attitude, job skills training, and high potential career placement. JobTrain’s programs help individuals gain career and life skills, transforming their lives for the long term. They have a Culinary Arts program and John thought the students would benefit from actually seeing the food go from the farm to the table. JobTrain agreed and the project was launched. Here is a great two minute video explaining the project. For those of you who have grown food in a large garden you know how much food 5500 square feet can produce. This farm is producing much more than the students can use for their culinary program so the excess is distributed to the team members at Gachina Landscape. The Farm grows their vegetables without using any pesticides or herbicides so team members learn how to grow food organically as well as experiencing the benefit of how good fresh vegetables taste. It is educational and practical.
The Farm is getting bigger and better every year. I noticed recently a few apartments and HOAs who have started community gardens. Gachina Landscape Management recognized this as well and is using The Farm to demonstrate to others what they can do in their communities. In a growing trend to grow more food and less grass in urban areas Gachina is a real leader. Agriscaping is a term I hear more everyday. The goal of Agriscaping is to improve local food access and sustainability by transforming landscapes into elegant, edible food gardens. This may be the future of urban landscapes.
Water management was key to the project as well. Lauren Galanes, who had previous agricultural experience before joining Gachina Landscape was responsible for setting up the irrigation. She installed Jain drip tape on an easy to move around drip system. This provides them the flexibility to easily change crops with the seasons. Also, thanks to John, Gachina Landscape Management was one of the first landscape companies to hire a Water Resource Manager (Chad Sutton – here is a great podcast about the strategy). Fortunately this helped start a trend with other landscapers.
In Honor of John’s Birthday, Gachina Landscape Management invited employees to paint messages on cobble and stones. They asked their team to take time and decorate the rocks and share your love and respect for John. The stones and cobble were placed in a Memorial to John at The Farm, which was John’s vision, and they had recently held a dedication.
When I think about legacy I think about establishing process, ideas, education and traditions that can be passed to future generations for the benefit of all. I think John achieved this goal with this project and many of his other achievements. I think these are great examples for all of us and one of the reasons we have to hold ourselves accountable to building water saving traditions that can be remembered for generations to come.