Growing Solutions' History

In 1997 a crisis in Santa Barbara water quality prompted Don Hartley, Karen Flagg and Stephanie Langsdorf to found Growing Solutions.  Due to toxic runoff the Santa Barbara public-health officials were posting record numbers of beach closures. Under mandate from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) clean water requirements local governments were required to address this issue.  Growing Solutions’ intent was to provide hands-on education in ecology and sustainability under the premise that a healthy land ecosystem would ultimately result in improved water quality in Santa Barbara’s creeks, marshes, sloughs and ocean. The strategy was and is whole-systems’ restoration…that a healthy functioning ecosystem is ultimately more efficient and cost-effective at filtering urban runoff than a mechanized approach using fossil fuels. Our primary role is to collect, propagate and grow site-specific native plants used for the design, implementation, maintenance and monitoring of restoration projects.

Growing Solutions has had the privilege to work on hundreds of coastal projects ranging from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. These include Ellwood Mesa for the City of Goleta, restoring a closed landfill for the Santa Barbara County, multiple projects on the Santa Barbara City College campus, restoring seabird habitat on Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara islands and currently providing all the native plants for the Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project. As a small non-profit Growing Solutions has been able to adjust to changing priorities in the community with the overriding mission being to provide environmental education whether it is regarding creeks, wetlands and water issues or the integration of farming and urban land use with wild lands we continue to provide hands-on learning opportunities for the community.