For nearly two years, the Coachella Valley has been grappling with California’s “state of emergency” as it pertains to the water drought. Governor Jerry Brown’s mandates for water conservation and cutback goals have been a struggle to comply with, especially for climates like the Coachella Valley. As a state, California was mandated to reduce its overall water usage by 25%, whereas Valley agencies were ordered to comply with as much as a 36% reduction in water use. Many strategies have been implemented throughout desert cities to meet cutback goals, including a 24 hour deadline to repair a broken sprinkler, prohibiting landscape watering on certain days of the week, and strict rules to prevent water runoff. The fines for noncompliance to the water rules and regulations can be costly, both for residences and businesses alike.
Martha’s Conservation Plan
As many homes and businesses pondered what they could do to cut down their water usage, Martha’s Village and Kitchen saw a huge opportunity to do their part by converting to desert landscape. Martha’s set a goal to remove 38,000 square feet of sod from the property to replace with desert landscape by devising a conservation plan. The sod in underused areas of the property was to be replaced with native plants and groundcover that use very little water. The conservation plan aimed to dramatically minimize Martha’s water use, significantly decrease the overall water bill, and create a beautiful desert landscape while preserving some grassy areas for children to play on.
However, large projects such as the conservation plan come with steep expenses. Thousands of homeless and impoverished members of the community seek the programs and services at Martha’s, making it crucial not to disrupt these life-changing services with the overwhelming expenses to complete the conservation project. In July 2015, Martha’s launched a Drought Campaign to raise funds for the conservation project and responses to the campaign were immense. The substantial and gracious support of the community brought the conservation plan to life, allowing for the timely completion of the project and opening the doors to new ideas for Martha’s Village and Kitchen.
The Knee Family
Among the wonderful supporters of this conservation project is the Knee Family. Kevin and Joan Knee are longtime friends and supporters of Martha’s Village and Kitchen. Both Kevin and Joan previously served terms on Martha’s Board of Directors and have stayed involved with many projects and events supporting Martha’s.
The Knee Family makes their philanthropic activities a group effort. As a family, Kevin, Joan and their four children sit down and discuss what they want to get involved in to support the community. As news of the severe California drought circulated, the Knee Family decided to make it a family effort to support Martha’s Drought Campaign. Since October, the Knee Family has teamed up with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to see the conservation project through to completion. Because of the support of the community and the Knee Family, the conservation project was fully complete in March. What once was 38,000 square feet of sod is now a beautiful, drought-friendly desert landscape and new play equipment for the children residing at Martha’s Village and Kitchen.
Future Conservation Efforts: Addition of a Sport Court
Beyond installing the new landscape, the Knee Family came up with some ideas of their own. Son, Eddie Knee, is a high school shooting guard and thought the addition of a basketball court/sports court would not only be drought-friendly, but useful to the residents of Martha’s. A sports court would create a healthy activity for residents as well as create an outlet for the youth to release their frustrations and cope with the family’s homeless circumstance. The addition of the sports court has become a second phase to Martha’s conservation project.
Eddie managed a booth at Martha’s 2015 Thanksgiving Day 5K to help spread the word of his project and launch a fundraiser for the sports court. Since November, Eddie has continued his fundraising efforts via a Go Fund Me page. Click here to view Eddie’s Go Fund Me page and to donate toward the addition of a sports court.
Martha’s Village and Kitchen would like to thank all members of the community and the Knee Family who supported the Drought Campaign. Click here for more ways to get involved at Martha’s or give us a call at (760) 347-4741 to schedule a tour of our completed conservation project and plans for the future!