Program areas at Ganna Walska Lotusland
Garden operations and public tours: Ganna Walska Lotusland's plant collections include over 3,000 taxa, including species from mediterranean regions around the world, and many are rare, endangered and some extinct in the wild. Collections include cacti, succulents, cycads, palms, ferns, begonias and conifers. Our sustainable horticulture systems are based on fully balanced, ecological soil management practices, which replenish and maintain soil fertility by providing optimum conditions for soil biological activity. Our soil practices include green waste recycling through composting, mulching and applications of compost teas, insectaries to attract and support beneficial insect populations, organic pest and disease treatments as a last resort to control unacceptable outbreaks, and organic fertilizers. Lotusland has been and continues to be a pioneer among public gardens and outdoor recreational entities in practicing and refining these techniques. Lotusland operates with a county permit limit of 20,000 visitors per year. 15,000 visitors per year can visit the gardens along with 5,000 santa barbara county k-12 students (with an emphasis on title 1 schools). All of Lotusland's visitors, including members and those attending classes, lectures, and other programs, must make advance reservations. Most of these visitors tour the grounds with a trained volunteer docent.
Open pathways: Lotusland's open pathways program is a mission-driven outreach program that provides free admission and docent tours of our gardens to underserved individuals, including seniors, at-risk youth and to those with special needs. The program targets those who are unlikely to have access to critical cultural institutions, and is often implemented through collaboration with a myriad of local non-profit agencies who serve those in need to effectively target those populations and enhancing their experience at Lotusland.
Fourth grade outreach: the fourth grade outreach program reaches all schools in south santa barbara county and has been expanded into north santa barbara county, now serving over 40 schools and nearly 90 classrooms, of which half are title i schools. The fourth grade outreach program is a partnership with each school, provided at no cost to the schools, and integrates the state of California fourth-grade curriculum for life science for the greatest possible impact in improving the student's steam comprehension. Delivered in three components, the program includes teacher training in a specially devised fourth-grade interdisciplinary curriculum, thought-provoking presentations supported by hands-on materials in each classroom, and hands-on field study experience conducted at Lotusland. The program encourages crossover of the life science curriculum into other subject curricula, such as math, chemistry, creative writing, art, and language, to provide a more integrated learning experience.