Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest blogger Bernadette Giblin, NOFA AOLCP & Founder, Safeground Organic Landcare Consulting
“The City of Brotherly Love” is filled with many incredible murals. This one adjacent the PHS seemed to capture
 the spirit of NOFA’s OLC accreditation course.
The “CHANGING THE GAME” billboard in the backdrop of the
PECO green roof seemed to signify what NOFA
accreditation is all about. 
I’m back from having a great time participating in the first NOFA Organic Land Care Accreditation Course of 2013!  The January 14th-17th course held in Philadelphia, PA was not only the season opener but, it was also the first time the course was on the road in Pennsylvania. CT NOFA OLC had the pleasure of collaborating with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. And what a great partner they found in PHS.  They’re the organization that’s responsible for the largest indoor flower show in the World! And they did a super job hosting the 50+ enthusiastic participants at PHS on Monday- Thursday for the NOFA OLC Accreditation Course. Many of which, I’m pleased to report, were from Philadelphia Park & Recreation. 
Courtesty of PWD websitehttp://www.phillywatersheds.org/
 Julie Snell and Nancy O’Donnell, just two of the supportive PHS team members we had the pleasure of getting acquainted with, helped make everyone feel welcome in these great accommodating facilities. 
And it goes without saying that dedicated OLC staffers worked tirelessly delivering the highest quality programming that the course  has become synonymous with.

It’s always fun and rewarding being in the company of AOLCP’s sharing our commitment to protecting the health of the environment through educating traditional landscapers and other green professional in organic management best practices.   I had the distinct pleasure of kicking off the course with the Principles & Procedures section normally taught by founding OLC Board Member Kim Stoner, who was unable to attend.  I loved getting the opportunity to enlighten the 50 or more new professionals in the room about organic land care, the importance of the OLC standards we adhere to and the network of OLCP support they’ve joined.

Site visit to the green roof of the
Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO)
Green professionals receive a foundation when they learn OLC best practices. 
Frank, myself & Chip
NOFA OLC founding Board Member Mike Nadeau of Plantscapes followed me with Site Assessment.  He shared the words of his mentor, “ The greatest pathogen to plants is the landscaper.” Reveared Soil Scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham (a.k.a., the Mother of Compost Tea) was in from the Rodale Institute to impart wisdom on soil fundamentals, biology & health.  She equated nature to a book that we must all learn how to read. “You got a problem, read the book!” She also suggested we OLCP’s,  “sweet talk clients away from turf.” And if we weren’t successful, Mister organic turf himself, Chip Osborne 
followed up to empower us with tools to transition turf to organics.  Chip echoed Dr. Ingham sentiments by stating, “The #1 goal is to improve soil quality.” 
Chip and I thought this
might be an interesting
dining experience
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans (a.k.a. The Bug Lady) shared a wealth of knowledge about our indespensible bretheren of the insect community. I wanted to bale on my mission driven OLC consulting, grant writing and social media marketing practice to be an entomologist!
Glen Abrams from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) updated us on the city’s 25 year plan, GREEN CITY, CLEAN WATER, is the most progressive in the nation.  It focuses on protecting their watershed by managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure. PWD’s sustainability initiative to broaden its green mission as well as comply with stricter environmental laws.  Clean water is no longer about putting water it in a pipe and transporting it to a municipal treatment facility.  Clean water is now about using pervious pavements, plants and soils the way Nature intended; to filter pathogens and clean water right where it lands.

There were other fabulous presentations like Frank Crandall who talked about the right plant right place principal, as well as the business side of things.  I know I’m missing so many others in this post so please forgive me.  You were great! Especially Jenna Messier & Kristiane Huber, for their hard work to make 2013 training in Pennsylvania invaluable for all who participated!
Program Director Jenna Messier and
Course Coordinator Kristiane Huber

Best of luck to new and, dare I say, old AOLCP’s in 2013!  Here’s to a game changing year for us all ;-)

NOFA AOLCP & Founder, Safeground Organic Landcare Consulting

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Accreditation Course in Pennsylvania

Julie Snell (PHS) teaches about design of a large greenroof
in Philadelphia

The week of January 14-17 was the Accreditation Course in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS).  The course is now in it's 12th year, and what better way to celebrate than heading to a new city and a new region! The classroom was pretty full as land care professionals from Pennsylvania to Kentucky to Alabama to Massachusetts came together to learn about Organic Land Care Practices.  On the first day of the course the staff from Pennsylvania Horticultural Society brought us to a green roof PHS established on the roof of the Pennsylvania Energy Company (PECO) Building.

The class visits the PECO Green Roof - Notice how we are
"Changing The Game"!
A number of NOFA's long time instructors traveled to Pennsylvania to teach about the Standards and provide insight on the history of the Program.  Mike Nadeau of Plantscapes Inc. taught about Site Design, Mulches and Lawn Alternatives. AOLCP and Annual Gathering Speaker, Bernadette Giblin provided the overview of Organic Principles and Practices.  Chip Osborne, founder and owner of Osborne Organics taught the introduction to turf, turf pest management and a new four-hour track about turf care.  Frank Crandall of Frank Crandall's Horticultural Solutions and our Education Committee Chair taught about Planting and Plant Care and how to operate an organic business.

Julie Snell (PHS) introduces Altje Hoekstra to teach about
We were delighted to be joined by Dr. Elaine Ingham, Chief Scientist and renowned soil microbiologist at the Rodale Institute to share her expertise on soil fundamentals, soil biology, fertility, compost and compost tea.  We were lucky to be joined by a number of experts from the Philadelphia area including Altje Hoekstra and Michele Adams of Meliora Design, LLC who taught about hydrology and storm water management, Glen Abrams from the Philadelphia Water Department Office of Watersheds,  Scott Guiser from the Penn State Extension to teach about plant disease, Sarah Low from the USDA Forest Service to teach about invasive species and Suzanne Wainright-Evans, owner of Buglady Consulting. 

The class visits Logan Square, designed and maintained by
the  Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
On the last day of the course the group split into two for two separate 4 hour tracks. The first, taught by Chip Osborne was focused on turf care and maintenance and provided a detailed overview of establishing organic turf, fertilizers and amendments  maintenance, and how to create an organic turf management program for a property.  The second track was titled "Planting Considerations and Green Infrstructure in the Urban Environment" focused on planting considerations and green infrastructure.  Chris Woods, the Director of PHS’ Meadowbrook Farm taught about planting and placement of plants in urban areas.  Linda Walczak, a Program Manager at PHS and Michele Adams, Principal Engineer at Meliora Design taught about stormwater management case studies and examples of projects.  Nancy O’Donnell, a Director of Design at PHS led a site visit to Logan Square where PHS staff brought small groups around Logan Square to teach about the sustainable design of this beautiful public space.

A big thanks to all of our instructors, and to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Staff who were wonderful hosts, coordinators and instructors for the course! If all of this material looks interesting to you, you can sign up for the Accreditation Course in Connecticut! Even if you have to travel a ways we have a reduced block room rate to hopefully make it more affordable for you, visit www.organiclandcare.net/education/accreditation-course for more information!