Kudos for cultivating a difference

Remember this name: Taylor Newton.

Morro Bay’s Chamber of Commerce past president, John Weiss, recently recognized Newton for making a difference by creating an urban farm.

Newton, a graduate of Cal Poly, is a botanist. He once sailed the Pacific Ocean testing water, a project that was funded by a grant from UC Davis. Newton returned to Morro Bay to develop Newton Cultivation in 2005 with his wife, Jennifer.

Newton Cultivation is described on Facebook as an “urban farm located on about an acre at the main entrance of Morro Bay urban agriculture as an industry responds to the nutritional demands of a city, from within that city, with the use and reuse of that city’s resources.”

“For some time,” Newton said, “I’d been watching and wanted Tropicana Nursery. I spent two years working the garden by myself. People wanted it to be a traditional nursery, but I had other plans.

“Angry boys kept coming by,” Newton said, “boys like Anthony Hoffa with school issues, stupid stuff with the law. I hired Anthony as a water boy and his friends started coming around. I had all these guys, not looking for pay, but interested in what I said and what I was doing.

“Morro Bay Guerrilla Gardening Club was created. My job is to protect them from themselves and society without judging them. Adam Hoffa and Derek Atkins are officers. I advise. The boys volunteer so many hours to qualify to work on projects they decide to do.”

Newton credits the Rev. Ed Holterhoff of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, Morro Bay parks and recreation director Joe Woods, and police Chief Tim Olivas for supporting their efforts.

Among other projects, the group has done clearing and replanting work at the Surf Street staircase and the landscaping at the police station. The group’s biggest project is the demonstration gardens at St. Timothy’s.

“It’s a work in progress,” Newton said. “Father Ed wanted to encourage people to stay. Several gardens will demonstrate drought-resistant plants practical for Morro Bay.

“St. Timothy’s pays Newton Cultivation for vegetation, the ‘boys’ volunteer labor and maintenance, Rob Chang designed, and I’ve cultivated the plants for the gardens.

“It’s a working art piece that produces all year — blooms, grasses, birds visiting to eat the rye. It’s about love of community and people sharing a common space.”

Newton is busy. He’s the president of the EcoRotary Club, which is working on “zero-waste” recycling projects. He is also a member of the Morro Bay Tree Committee, which recently planted more than 40 trees with the help of numerous volunteers.

Newton’s motto: “Get back closer to the land. Get up, work hard, love hard, eat right, be humble and learn then get up and do it again.”

Reach Judy Salamacha at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.