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