Unusual Valentine’s Day Raffle Takes Shape

By February 9, 2011Sustainable Landscaping

Reprinted from Santa Cruz Weekly

By Maria Grusauskas Fri, Feb 04, 2011

When the Good Earth tea factory on the Westside of Santa Cruz shut down a few weeks ago, local landscaper Ken Foster acquired 930 pounds of dried pink rose petals and decided they could help quell addictions in Santa Cruz.

Ken Foster, left, and ‘Flea’ Virostko display the crushed rose petals they’ll raffle off on Valentine’s Day. (Chip Scheuer)

Ken Foster, left, and ‘Flea’ Virostko display the crushed rose petals they’ll raffle off on Valentine’s Day. (Chip Scheuer)

“I just love the process of finding something that was going to go to the landfill and thinking about how it can be used to benefit the community. I kind of wanted to do something that had more benefit than just buying it for mulch,” says Foster, who for years has used tea by-products as mulch in his business, Terra Nova.

And so Foster will be raffling off a bed of food-grade, kosher rose petals on Valentine’s Day and has offered to personally arrange them wherever and however the lucky winner chooses. Part of the raffle proceeds go to Transition Santa Cruz, a local branch of the international movement to rethink oil dependency.

“We rely on it [oil] for everything—bringing our food to us, transportation, plastic. The production and discovery of oil is very likely at its peak. The mission of Transition Santa Cruz is to design our future in a way that can raise our quality of life by building a resilient community that is more connected with its neighbors,” says Foster, who believes that the creative genius of the people of Santa Cruz is capable of developing local self-reliance in food, energy and transportation.

The Valentine’s Day raffle also supports the fight against one of Santa Cruz’s more familiar dependencies: addiction to drugs and alcohol. The winning ticket will be drawn at noon at Greenspace by local celebrity surfer Darryl “Flea” Virostko, the three-time Mavericks winner and founder of Fleahab, a non-profit program that helps recovering addicts find sobriety through surfing.

“I look forward to helping people through sports. I know how important it is to get endorphins flowing and I know firsthand how you can be sidetracked by drugs and alcohol,” says Virostko, whose openness about his methamphetamine addiction helped shine a light on drug use in the surf community. “I’m happy to help Ken shower his loved ones with rose petals any way that I can,” he says.

The sexy ground covering will eventually decompose, adding life to the soil underneath it, but not before shrouding one local garden in the kind of romance only several pounds of dried rose petals could inspire.

Monday, Feb. 14, noon
Greenspace, 1122 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz
Raffle tickets $3 at Greenspace (831.423.7200)  or by calling Ken Foster (831.359.5717)

And the winner of the Rose Petal benefit raffle was…Rebecca Kershnar MD, resident of Watsonville. A number of people won rose petal sachets as well. 88 tickets were sold at $3.00 each so a bit of money was made for Transition Santa Cruz. A win/win/win overall. Thanks to Darryl ‘Flea’ Virostko and FleaHab, Greenspace for the space and M Sophia Santiago for helping think up this idea and for all her hard work!

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