Thursday, October 25, 2012

The 2012 Annual Gathering is going to be Great!

Eric T. Fleisher

The 2012 Organic Land Care Annual Gathering on December 5, 2012 in Sturbridge, MA is a full day program with presentations by leaders in the sustainable landscaping movement about new practices in organic land care.  The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Organic Land Care Program hosts the event to provide education and networking opportunities for the northeast’s sustainable landscapers and is open to the public.

The 2012 Annual Gathering is titled “Success with the Organic Land Care Market” and the keynote speaker will be Eric T. Fleisher, the Director of Horticulture at Battery Park City Parks Conservancy in lower Manhattan.  Fleisher is a national leader in the field of sustainable horticulture, and has transitioned 37-acres of parkland on the Hudson River to be maintained organically.  Fleisher will discuss the results-driven approach to organic land care in order to build credibility for yourself and your business. 

Bernadette Giblin will share her experience educating citizens, municipalities and institutions about organic land care, drawing on her work transitioning four municipal parks departments in western Massachusetts from conventional management to organic.  Dave Alba, the Program Manager of Oregon Tilth’s Organic Land Care Program will offer a unified approach for professionals to maintain consistent practices and messaging across North America.

Dave Alba from Oregon Tilth
Chip Osborne of Osborne Organics will present his studies about compost and compost tea application in response new regulations about nitrogen and phosphorus applications.  Lee Corte-Real, the Director of the Division of Crop and Pest Services at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, will discuss new laws that affect land care professionals and the requirements for using organic pesticides in Massachusetts.

Cheryl Smith, an educator with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, will teach about organic management and treatment of plant disease.  Cynthia Rabinowitz, a professional soil scientist and certified permaculture design consultant, will outline permaculture principles and their application to organic land care.

The Annual Gathering is on December 5 from 9:00am to 5:30pm at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, MA.  During break periods and lunch, attendees are welcome to visit with exhibitors and to visit with the NOFA Organic Land Care staff to learn about accreditation.  Registration for the general public is $115 ($100 for NOFA Members or Accredited Professionals).  For more information or to register, please visit or call the NOFA Organic Land Care office at 203-888-5146.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Storm Water Management

Thinking about stormwater management at home? Well, a great thing to consider is a rain collection system. Rain can be collected from rooftops and stored in barrels and reused to water your garden. An average amount of rainfall for one day can produce hundreds of gallons of water that just wash down your roof and out eventually to make into the local waterways.

Not only are rain barrels a good idea because they save you money on your water bill, but the environment benefits from their use. This is because water that washes off our roofs pick up pollutants like oil, and litter, and animal waste before reaching the local water way. By collecting the water we can prevent all those contaminates from entering the water ways.

Here is a guide for building your own rain water collection system:

Step 1: Cut a bucket to create the top of your rainwater tank

Step 2: Use your permanent marker and the top of the five gallon bucket and trace around the top of the 55 gallon / 210 liter drum.


Step 3: Spout it out 

Step 4: Add a gutter extension.

Step 5: Measure and mark where you need to cut the fitting so that the end will run into the top of your rainwater collection barrel. 


Step 6: Ensure a proper fit.

Step 7: Strain the drain


Step 8: Place a gutter strain in the gutter on your roof. 

For more detailed information on building this rain collection system visit,

For more information on rain collection systems in general visit,

Blog Post by NOFA OLC's Fall Intern, Julia Rossi.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Learn Business Planning and Marketing from the Experts!

Join Horticultural Business Consultant, Frank Crandall and Advertising Design Consultant, Anne DiFrancesco for “Business Essentials: Pricing and Marketing Your Landscaping Services for Success” on Friday, November 9 from 9:00am to 1:00pm at 16 Meriden Road, in Middlefield, CT.  This workshop, hosted by the Organic Land Care Program of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, is for and land care business professionals seeking further guidance on business management and marketing. 

Frank Crandall owns Horticultural Solutions based in Wakefield, RI and has 38 years of experience running an award winning landscape design, construction and maintenance firm.    Crandall offers Growth, Effectiveness, Management (GEM) Seminars for professionals in the horticultural field each year and authored “The Essential Horticultural Business Handbook”.  Crandall will be teaching about business pricing, estimates and planning with a focus on pricing organic services.

Anne DiFrancesco is founder, owner and creative director of A&M Studios Inc., an advertising design studio in Westport, CT that serve clients with small and large businesses including Lipton Foods, Hoffman Landscapes and Pitney Bowes. DiFrancesco will instruct on the topics of branding, appearance in the marketplace, defining a target audience and design of print advertising, web design and tracking these marketing avenues.

The workshop will conclude with a panel including Crandall, DiFrancesco and Laurence Coronis, owner of Coronis Consulting in Wilton, New Hampshire, a horticultural consulting firm.  The panel will answer questions from audience members with business and marketing advice.  Attendees will also receive a packet of templates and forms to be personalized for use at each attendee’s business.   

The workshop will be held at 16 Meriden Road in Rockfall, CT at the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s classroom.  The workshop cost is $80 for NOFA Accredited Organic Professionals and NOFA Members and $90 for the public.  For more information or to register visit /education/advanced-workshops or call the NOFA Organic Land Care Office at 203-888-5146.  The Organic Land Care Program hosts workshops, conferences and courses to educate organic landscapers  and homeowners in the northeast. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Recap from Organic Land Care Program's Advanced Workshop "It's All About the Water"

Last week was NOFA Organic Land Care's Advanced Workshop  It's All About the Water: Managing Stormwater with Rain Gardens, Permeable Surfaces and Tree Boxes at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT.
The first presenter was Donald Watson, an Architect with Earthrise LLC and presented about a streamside buffer demonstration project he designed in Trumbull and about his work on the Beardsley Zoo's 319 Grant to put in biofiltration features in the parking lot.
Heather Crawford, a former Extension Educator with UConn Sea Grant gave a detailed overview of different kinds of non-point pollution that affect water courses and how low impact development (which combines design features that slow water runoff and filter out pollutants) can benefit water quality.  She also presented on the particular vulnerability of the Pequonnock River and the vital role that river's quality plays in the Long Island Sound's water quality.

Michael Dietz, the Program Director of CT NEMO taught the class about how to calculate runoff volume and amounts of pollution coming from an area.  Then Michael and Jeanne Yuckienuz, a Senior Keeper at the Zoo and Accredited Professional, brought the group outside to see the site of the proposed project.  The area around the flagpole will be excavated and a rain garden will be established that absorbs water as it flows from the parking lot.

After lunch Lisa and Kyle Turoczi from Earth Tones taught about choosing trees, shrubs, ground cover and flowers for rain gardens of all sizes and locations.  Afte rtheir presentation the group went outside and identified the plants grown in the Beardsley Zoo's existing three rain gardens surrounding the Hansen Education Center.

This third raingarden was planted with inkberry, cinammon fern, royal fern, low bush blueberry, and azalea.

Tom Barry, from Read Custom Soils presented on Engineered Soils for Low Impact Development.  Tom discussed the mixtures of soils required for rain gardens that will allow for water infiltration and percolation, sequester pollutants and support plant growth.  Soil underneath permeable pavement should be structural planting soil that can support a greater weight without compacting (which would reduce the amount of water that could infiltrate and the rate).  Tom also discussed the soils used on green roofs, which have to be very light while still allowing water to percolate and supporting plant life.  
The next presentation was from Brendan Tyson from unilock who presented on all the different kinds of pavements that can be used to provide a hard surface that still allows nearly natural rates of infiltration.  
The final presentation from Paul Iorio of Storm Tree and was about tree filters which are generally used in small parking lots in much the same way a storm drain is.  Except many tree boxes (except those receiving large volumes of run off) do not connect to an underground pipe, but filter through soil and the tree's roots.  

For the full report, visit the Organic Land Care Program's website.  You'll also be able to see some of the presentations and Low Impact Development resources.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NOFA OLC receives grant to create an Organic Lawn Care Certificate Program!

The OLC Program Director, Jenna Messier and CT NOFA Executive Director, Bill Duesing, point to the NOFA OLC project on the map of the LISFF funded programs!

We at NOFA Organic Land Care are so excited for our new Organic Lawn Certificate Course, check out the grant announcement below, and stay tuned.  Also check our Lawn Certificate Course page for updates.

More Than $1.6 Million Awarded for Community-Based Projects to Improve Health of Long Island Sound

Old Field, NY - Top federal and state environmental officials today announced 35 grants totaling $1.6 million to state and local government and community groups in New York and Connecticut to improve the health of Long Island Sound.  The projects, which are funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, will open up 50 river miles for passage of fish, and restore 390 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat including lakes, underwater grasses, woodlands, meadows, wetlands, beaches and rivers and parks along the waterfront.  Twenty grants totaling $757,922 will be awarded to groups in Connecticut leveraged by $1.4 million from the grantees themselves.   

This public-private grant program pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Wells Fargo.

"Protecting and restoring Long Island Sound have long been priorities for EPA," said EPA Regional Administrator for New England Curt Spalding. "These grants will support vital and diverse projects throughout the region to improve water quality and remove pollution from the Long Island Sound watershed, and involve the public in the protection of one of the nation's most important natural treasures."

“One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our communities is the protection and restoration of estuaries,” said David O’Neill, Director, Eastern Partnership Office, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “The funding awarded today represents the Foundation’s continuing commitment, as well as the commitment of our federal and state partners, to further restoration efforts aimed at improving the overall health of the Long Island Sound.”

The Long Island Sound Study initiated the Long Island Sound Futures Fund in 2005 through the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF. To date, the program has invested $10.5 million in 261 projects in communities surrounding the Sound.  With grantee match of $23 million, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has generated a total of almost $33.5 million for projects in both states.  

"I am pleased to see funding go to projects that engage local communities in the protection and restoration of local fish and wildlife habitats,” said Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Equally exciting are the partnerships with public and private landowners that will increase our ability to work effectively on the ground in the Long Island Sound area. These grants go directly to protecting our shared natural resources—from opening rivers for native fish and restoring habitat for songbirds and shorebirds, to educating children who are the future stewards of the Sound.”
Jay Mar, Connecticut State Conservationist, NRCS, added, "This year's funding of projects to engage farmers and land managers throughout communities in the watershed will help accomplish important wildlife goals through the New England Cottontail Initiative, and manure management advances to improve ecological and economic health of the Sound.”
“Connecticut DEEP is pleased to work with our partners in the Long Island Sound Study to preserve and protect Long Island Sound – one of the region’s most valuable natural resources,” said Brian Thompson, Director of Long Island Sound Programs. “This year $757,922 in Long Island Sound Futures Funds grants are being awarded to 20 important Connecticut programs. The grant funding covers a wide range of projects including restoration of fish habitat, removal of invasive plants, restoring New England Cottontail Rabbit population, preparation of significant management plans, and implementation of educational programs that will protect Long Island Sound for future generations.”

Long Island Sound is an estuary that provides economic and recreational benefits to millions of people, while also providing habitat for more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds. The Long Island Sound Study, developed under the EPA’s National Estuary Program, is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to protect and restore the Sound and its ecosystem. To learn more about the LISS, visit For full descriptions of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund Grants, visit

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, established by Congress in 1984, is an international leader in developing public and private funding to protect wildlife and natural resources. In 26 years, NFWF has funded 4,000 organizations and leveraged $576 million in federal funds into $2 billion for conservation. The achievement of clear, measurable results is central to its work. The foundation brings together diverse stakeholders—from industry to Congress to local leaders—to accomplish positive outcomes.  NFWF currently works with 14 federal partners and more than 50 corporate and foundation partners. To learn more about NFWF, visit