By Logan Hall
Ojai Fire Station 21 is setting an example for the community. The Ventura County Fire Department crew at 21 has steadily been transforming the station into a “green” facility by installing specialized equipment, like solar panels, new energy-efficient lighting and, most recently, by revamping the station’s landscaping that will include plants which need little or no watering.
The transformation hasn’t happened overnight though.
“We’ve been working at the landscaping for about a year,” said VCFD Station 21 Capt. John McNeil at a special barbecue celebrating the unveiling of the station’s new front yard. “It’s been a really great project.”
McNeil says that he and his crew could not have accomplished their goals without help from the community. “We owe so much to Jessica,” he said referring to Jessica Thompson, owner of Green Goddess Gardens landscaping. “She really spent a lot of time helping us and she never asked for anything in return.”
According to McNeil, Thompson had driven by the station last year and had seen firefighters working in the yard out front when she stopped and asked if they needed a hand. Thompson and the crew at 21 quickly developed a chemistry that helped set in motion a new design and look for the station.
“I had been looking for a good project that would help me give back to the community,” said Thompson. “When I drove by the station, I just thought it was a perfect place to start. I’m really glad these guys wanted to work with me.”
Thompson says she wanted to use vegetation that would thrive in Ojai’s arid climate, but that would also look good year-round. “If we used strictly native plants,” she said, “the garden would look like our hillsides. Instead I brought in mostly Mediterranean plants that will do well here. They really look great too.”
The VCFD’s Deputy Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen was on hand at Wednesday’s barbecue and gave his thoughts on the project. “I didn’t even know this was going on here,” he told those who had gathered. “I really want to thank these guys for going above and beyond the status quo. This is a really great thing they’re doing.”