“I’m planning on having a lot of fun and sharing a lot of information,” says self-proclaimed “green industry advocate” Ahmed Hassan, known to millions of DIY Network and HGTV fans of “Yard Crashers.” Hassan will give two hands-on demonstrations at Sunday’s Grand Avenue Festival and Street Fair.
The Heritage Garden Park, at the corner of Grand & Juniper, will be the scene for Hassan’s demonstrations. Ahmed will do two, one-hour presentations and hands on demonstrations. After each demonstration he will be available for questions and answers and interaction with visitors.
Hassan is an enthusiast and his goal is to make you an enthusiast too. “I’m a green industry advocate,” he says. “I love my industry. I love being a landscaper and I’m a sustainability freak.”
Ahmed is a California native who enjoys making outdoor spaces beautiful, and spends a considerable amount of time teaching others how to do the same. Hosting shows and teaching the tenets of a quality landscape on television via landscape construction projects are perhaps the aspects of his career that Ahmed enjoys the most. The ability to teach in an engaging and entertaining way is a special quality that makes him one of the most sought after specialists in his field.
More than a celebrity, Ahmed is a 27-year expert, California licensed Landscape Maintenance Technician and Contractor.
For the last year he has focused on zero waste landscapes and showing people how they can spend less money and still be effective. “I will share some of that,” he told The Times-Advocate. “although I’m not sure that will help me get sponsors, since I often show people how to save money and do more with less!”
Hassan has been in the professional landscaping business since he was 15 and became interested in gardening at the age of 10.
“My grandmother was a gardener and my dad was a landscaper. I grew up working with him and wanting to emulate him.” Hassan recalls. “He was a truck driver and I was too little to drive a truck. When he was an equipment operator, I got to sit on his lap and drive a tractor—but when it came to landscaping, I got to work side by side with him. I felt like I was a man. I think my dad actually manipulated me and tricked me into liking and enjoying work. As a grown up, and someone who hosts television shows, and leads charity makeover projects, I now get to manipulate people and make them believe that work is fun!”
Recently, Ahmed and his team of “Sustainable Heroes” along with 220 volunteers transformed the garden at Interfaith’s Family Housing apartments on Aster Street in Escondido. Best described as a “landscaping blitz,” volunteers refurbished playground equipment, laid new artificial turf, installed gravel and mulch, planted hundreds of bushes, flowers and trees and built raised garden boxes where residents now grow their own organic vegetables and fresh herbs.
Ahmed likes getting young people interested in landscaping. “That takes good manipulation too. I really like working with teenagers because they can be quite effective as both listeners and laborers.”
Hassan says that he runs his business somewhat like an apprenticeship for young people. “What’s really interesting is that most young people don’t know how to work. They know how to play games. They know how to drive. And if I tell them to go talk to Fernando at such-and-such place, and go do XYZ, they can at least use Google, and they will find their way—but I find that most young adults don’t know how to do physical work.”
Ahmed eventually ends up teaching them how to work and be capable and confident in themselves and their abilities.
“It feels like an apprenticeship, but it’s actually employment,” says Hassan. “What I do is give them life skills to help them earn a living. I don’t need or want to employ them forever. During the time they do work for me, I want them to be eager to utilize the skills they are learning, and ideally become even more ambitious and maybe work for themselves.”
In this age of do-it-yourself, how do people find the time or money to have good landscaping?
“I’ll tell you, it’s like this… folks who have a nice looking yard either do it themselves or pay to have it done. In this DIY era there is a nostalgia. It’s about working and doing things with your hands. The nostalgia, in my opinion, kindles fond memories of working with your parents or grandparents when you were a kid.
“We’re evolving into a society that is a lot less hands on. Yet we still have this desire to express our creativity. Many of us need the kind of interaction with nature and work that both landscaping and gardening provide. It’s an earthy connection that technology simply can not deliver.
“What I will be doing at the festival, is sharing bits of information so that people go home empowered,” he says. Ahmed will do planting demonstrations, talk about the basics of gardening, compost and soil amendments and mulching. He will also debunk certain myths around pruning, planting and whether or not rocks in a pot assist with drainage.
“I’m there to be available to the public. I don’t do canned speeches. My job is to make sure that I am well fed, hydrated, and have gone to the restroom. Grangetto’s Farm & Garden Supplies and Kellogg’s Garden Organics are making sure I have all of the garden supplies for the day.”
Also presenting in the Heritage Garden Park will be Horizon Solar and Power “Solar Smart 101” (11 a.m.), SDG&E “Right Tree, Right Place” (noon) and Newland Sierra “Building Sustainable Communities” (3 p.m.)
Ahmed will be presenting in the Gazebo, answering questions, demonstrating potting plants and signing autographs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1–3 p.m.
Find out more about Ahmed Hassan by visiting his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Ahmed- Hassan- Celebrity- Landscaper- 129427760427254/?fref=ts
Visit 500 Vendors
Besides the demonstrations at Heritage Garden, the street fair, which runs from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. will feature lots of family-friendly activities spread along several blocks in Escondido’s downtown area.
Some of the things you will find include:
• Demonstrations and presentations in the Heritage Garden Park from
SDG&E, Horizon Solar Power and Newland Sierra. Grangetto’s will supply plants and Kellog’s will provide soil for the garden demonstration hosted by celebrity landscaper Ahmed Hassan.
• The block East of Juniper, to Ivy will be filled with activities including a Jumpy House and carnival type games arranged by the Downtown Business Association, which is a co-sponsor of the day’s activities along with the Escondido Chamber of Commerce.
• YMCA will be doing ZUMBA demonstrations.
• El Caballo youth will demonstrate lasso skills.
• And many more family activities!
Major sponsor Chobani will be there with coffee and yogurt.
About 500 vendors are expected to participate and possibly tens of thousands of visitors on foot. It is truly a pedestrian’s paradise. It’s a day to come out and shop and find some good food and gifts or just chat with your neighbors.
Food from around the world and unique gifts will be available from the 500 vendors that line the Escondido historic Grand Avenue from Center City to Juniper. Family entertainment, kids rides, Jaycee’s pancake breakfast and a 24-foot climbing wall make for a full day of entertainment and shopping. For up to date information, visit escondidochamber.org/grand-avenue-festival.
The Times Advocate is the Chamber’s premier news partner in this event. “We believe in partnering with businesses or industries that provide quality news,” said Escondido Chamber CEO Rorie Johnston, “and in celebration of your anniversary and the fact that you are now delivering the news on a weekly basis we’d like to be a part of that. What better way than with our most important event?”
The Times-Advocate’s vendor space will be located at the intersection of Grand & Juniper. Stop by and pick up a free paper or sign up for a subscription.
The street fair is one of the largest such events in the state. You could literally spend the entire day walking up and down the 12 city blocks that will be roped off and not see the same thing twice.
The Grand Ave Festival and Street Fair takes place twice a year on the third Sunday of May and October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has been a family tradition since 1989.