DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor
DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor

By Marianne Taylor

Following another year of planning and prepping, the excitement is mounting as our third annual Eco Garden Expo draws near. This year’s expo—hosted by San Juan Capistrano nonprofit Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens—is set for Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at Los Rios Park in historic downtown San Juan. Admission is free to the two-day expo, with valet parking and shuttle parking available at no charge.

El Niño has clearly passed Southern California by, and unfortunately the drought still continues. This year’s Eco Garden Expo offers visitors two days and two stages of amazing speakers ready to equip and encourage you to take the necessary steps to lessen the impacts of California’s drought at a very local level—your own home.

Expo attendees will be able to learn, shop and explore as we celebrate this year’s theme, “Year of the Child: Today’s Seeds. Tomorrow’s Harvest.” Our focus is to connect kids and families to the benefits of nature through lots of hands-on garden activities, including crafts staged by Zoomars Petting Zoo and the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County.

Visitors will be presented with the latest information from expert guest speakers on backyard orchards, butterflies, beneficial insects, composting, kombucha benefits and more. Attendees can also enjoy hands-on clinics held by many of our 79 exhibitors, extensive plant sale from local nurseries, South Coast Farms fresh produce, fine artisan crafts and jewelry and local food.

At the Eco Garden Expo, you’ll take away numerous ideas and healthy tips while learning how to integrate environmental resources into your lifestyle along with California-friendly plants in your home garden.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens is committed to providing horticultural education, encouraging emotional and physical wellbeing and teaching practical life skills to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, all while promoting environmental sustainability and saving community resources.

Beyond the annual Eco Garden Expo, Goin Native continues to help people thrive together in the community through gardening and life skills. You can see us in action at Los Rios Park caring for the certified butterfly gardens with the assistance of the CUSD Adult Transition Workability program, which helps special needs adults acquire garden and life skills. Or check us out at the Reata Park and Event Center for a free “Smart Gardening Series” provided by the UCCE Master Gardeners of OC, which promotes conservation in landscaping. We also have a “Goin Healthy” program with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley, which aims to teach kids about farm-to-table meals on a budget.

We look forward to seeing you at this weekend’s Eco Garden Expo. With so much available in one location, be sure to bring a wagon to carry your plants and eco-friendly products. For more information about this fun community event, visit www.goinnative.net.

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, a 501(c)(3) teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people.

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