- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The Elkus Ranch, an environmental education and conference facility in Half Moon Bay, was created to provide outdoor education opportunities for urban, disabled and inner-city youth. It sits on land donated to UC Cooperative Extension by the late Richard J. Elkus.
A milestone in realizing the Elkus Ranch mission was reached with the opening this spring of a new "enabling garden." A recent ribbon cutting was covered by the San Mateo County Times.
The garden, built by ranch foreman Augie Aguilar and groundskeeper Bruno Acosta, has raised beds of varying heights, some with cutouts for wheelchairs, so youths can have up-close access to the garden without bending or kneeling, the article said. The beds contain flowers, herbs, root crops and vegetables.
"We wanted to make sure that everyone who comes to Elkus Ranch, regardless of ability or disability, can connect with the dirt," the story quoted Leslie Jensen, Elkus program coordinator and a certified horticultural therapist. "An area has been provided for training, workshops and demonstrations of principles and techniques for horticultural therapy for special education teachers."
According to Ranch Talk, the Elkus Ranch newsletter, the project was funded by support from the Atkinson Foundation, the Strong Foundation for Environmental Values, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the National Gardening Association.
Bill Crandall of the Atkinson Foundation attended the garden's recent ribbon cutting.
"It's nice to experience the outcome of our donation and to see it go to such a thoughtful project," he was quoted in the newsletter.