Smart Yards Co-op Will Conserve Water and Empower Employees
October 19 was the first day of operation of the Smart Yards Cooperative, an innovative new enterprise based in San Jose to conserve water by replacing existing lawns with California native and drought-tolerant plants.
“Smart Yards is a holistic solution that saves on water, energy, time, maintenance, pollution, and costs for the homeowner”, states Project Director and co-op founder Elizabeth Sarmiento. Elizabeth and her husband, homeowners in Willow Glen replaced their front and back lawn into sustainable landscapes in 2008 which significantly reduced their water consumption.
Elected officials including Senator Jim Beall and San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra recently helped launch Smart Yards, highlighting the urgency of water conservation and sustainable landscaping practices.
Senator Beall stressed: “I think it’s very important to tell people to rip out their lawns. This is not a lawn-type area, especially now that we have global warming going on.” He added, “I’m going to do as much as I can to get money in the state budget to fund the rebates for communities, especially for cooperatives.”
Homeowners may be eligible for a rebate from their local water district to help convert their lawns into sustainable landscaping.
San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra also expressed his support: “This truly is the solution for long term sustainability where it comes to water conservation in a way in which the employees and those that own the coop are empowered.”
Smart Yards is set up to create healthy, bio-diverse yards by using intelligent landscaping designs, permaculture principles, non-toxic and reusable materials, native and drought-tolerant plants that are children and pet friendly, Zen and rainwater gardens, edible food and herb gardens, greywater installations, and amenities such as raised beds, chicken coops, fruit trees, composting, and spaces for fun and relaxation.
“The landscapes don’t require mowing or blowing, which cuts down on dust allergies, noise pollution, and maintenance costs”, states Sarmiento.
Smart Yards is being incubated by the non-profit Human Agenda, with its values of “promoting democracy, equality, cooperation, kindness, and sustainability”, says Executive Director Richard Hobbs. “Smart Yards meets all of these criteria.”