Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stormwater Management Track for Mid-Atlantic Accreditation Course

Glen Abrams of PHS
For the second year, NOFA OLC offers a 2 track option on the final day of the Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care ( so students can pursue an in-depth study of a topic relevant to their work. Glen Abrams designed this curriculum to offer land care professionals both the GSI big picture and focused sessions applicable to work which can be done for landscaping clients. The other concurrent track offered is Organic Turf Management with Chip Osborne.

Stormwater Managment Track Description - Mid Atlantic Course 2014 Dec 8-11, 2014

Facing difficult decisions regarding compliance with Clean Water Act rules concerning stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows, many communities have opted to pursue green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) strategies over conventional approaches to managing runoff.  GSI is an engineered landscape system that intercepts rainfall, infiltrates a portion of it into the ground, evaporates a portion of it into the air, and in some cases releases a portion of it slowly back into the city's sewer system.  The intention is to design an urban landscape to restore natural hydrologic processes to reduce the volume and water quality impacts of the built environment while achieving additional social and economic benefits.  The Green Stormwater Infrastructure track will explore GSI practices in different contexts, focusing on case studies of institutional, commercial, and residential practices.  Furthermore, we will discuss issues that arise during construction of GSI practices and explore how these systems are maintained.

 Learning Objectives:

  •   Learn the definition of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) and become familiar with different land-water-plant based systems through case studies of GSI practices in several land use contexts
  •  Learn about the regulatory context driving the need for stormwater management and the EPA's growing support for GSI
  • Learn how site characteristics, regulations, and client desires shape GSI design 
  •  Learn about vegetation choices for GSI practices
  • Learn about common challenges when constructing and maintaining GSI practices
  • Learn about how GSI design choices can impact maintenance of these systems

Altje Hoekstra, Meliora Environmental Design
Alden Zove, Cedar Run Landscapes

 Tom Johnston, ThinkGreen
 Jonathan Nuss, David Brothers Landscaping (not-confirmed)

Schedule: Dec 11, 2014
8-8:30              The Regulatory Environment for Stormwater            Glen Abrams
8:30-9:10         Institutional/Commercial GSI Applications                Altje Hoekstra
9:10-10:00       Residential GSI Applications                                       Alden Zove
10:00-10:15     BREAK
10:15-11:05     Construction of GSI                                                     Tom Johnston
11:05-11:55     Maintenance of GSI                                                    Jonathan Nuss (invited

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going Organic in Barnstead, N.H.

Going Organic in Barnstead, N.H.
Grazing Horses and Encouraging Natives is a Dream Come True
By Kathy Litchfield

            For Patricia Sanborn, there is nothing like letting her sleek, black Arabian and Morab horses graze freely on the 90 acres she owns in Barnstead, N.H.
Graced with rolling pastures and hayfields, flowering native gardens and organic vegetables, Trish is careful when choosing what plants to encourage in the house gardens and along the pathways her horses enjoy on their way to the field.
“It’s very important not to have plants that they like to eat,” she laughed.
Trish partnered with five-year Accredited Organic Land Care Professional Paula Kovecses of TWIG (The Way It Grows) Horticultural Consulting to find the perfect plants. Together they chose a border called blue star amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) which features stunning blue flowers in summer and a showy feathery foliage that Sanborn loves and her horses shun.
It has always been important to her to incorporate native plants and organic land care methods into the property that she and her husband were thrilled to discover just 12 years go in Barnstead, N.H. She believes in the interconnectedness of all life and aims to respect her partnership with nature as much as possible.
            “We are so blessed to be here. It’s as close to heaven we can get,” said Trish, who offers a subtle energetic medicine called biofeedback through her business, Quantum Life Healing.
“I understand that there is a web, that we’re all interconnected and that we can’t just wipe out one species because we think it’s a problem. We have to make sure that we maintain the balance of life,” she said. “If you’ve got an unhealthy ground you won’t have birds taking care of the bugs. Since the planting I’ve done - I’ve increased all my natives around my vegetable gardens for instance – I have more and more birds every year. It’s vital to have a healthy environment in order to have the bugs that the birds will eat and to do that, you need native plants.”
            While she was always interested in organic methods and never sprayed chemicals, herbicides or pesticides on her property, she shared that she had an epiphany after reading Douglas Tallamy’s book, “Bringing Nature Home.”
            “It was around the time I was introduced to Paula (Kovecses). I had always liked pretty little native plants but after reading that book I realized it was necessary,” she said.
Trish’s sister introduced her to Kovecses at a lecture on invasive plants Kovecses was giving at a local college.
“That subject was near and dear to my heart and after I heard her speak I made an appointment for her to come out and talk to me about my land,” she said.
“Paula has been a true gem. She is so knowledgeable, and is aware of many plants I never would have known about, that are natives and that are doing well here. I don’t like traditional suburban landscaping that usually consists of a lot of lawn and a few alien species of ornamental shrubberies. They don’t provide food or shelter for animals. My thing is to co-exist with what’s already living here and whatever I do to the land, I want to be a benefit to everyone who lives here. My gardens are kind of different looking – they are wild looking and very natural and always improving. It’s like a tapestry that gets better every year.”
            Among Trish’s favorite native plants are wild indigo, joe pye weed and Turtleheads. She also grows comfrey, marshmallow, motherwort, blue vervain and skullcap in her medicinal herb garden.
Trish is also planting swamp azalea, aronia and rhodis along the miles of riding trails through her woods. “It adds an element to the walk or trail ride, to see my garden in the woods slowly becoming even more beautiful,” she said.
Sometimes the battle with invasives becomes overwhelming. “They’re plentiful everywhere,” she sighed, “but that’s what we’re working on!”
            Trish and her husband Peter enjoy eating organic food and make their own pet food to feed their two terrier dogs and three cats, formerly strays “who found us,” she said.
            Last year the couple, married for 40 years with two grown sons, added chickens to their Black Horse Farm.
“Chickens are great. When I let them out they make a beeline for the asparagus patch and do all their scratching in there. Beetles were the bane of our existence until we got the chickens; I was picking 100 off daily for the first few weeks in spring. But this year we’ve had much less of a problem.”
What Kovecses said she enjoys about working with Trish is that “she ‘gets it.’”
“She is open to increasing biodiversity by using native plants as much as possible and of course feeding her family. There is never any pressure when I visit Tricia, we have tea; we chat and brainstorm the best ideas for her landscape,” said Kovecses. “A full design was done for her property, and we have changed things a bit but we definitely keep the communication open and we seem to work well together. If we decide on a plant, if I can get it locally, that is how we try to do it. I believe she is not a ‘wanna be’ organic, she stands true to working with nature.”
            Kovecses worked with Trish on a landscape design for the gardens surrounding their home, located in the center of the 90 acres. One perennial garden that is now coming into its own showcases flourishing goldenrod, joy pye weed, sneezeweed with red, orange and yellow flowers and black-eyed susans.
“It’s this crazy area of tall plants that looks nutty, but we love it,” she said, and frequently recommends Kovecses to friends and neighbors.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Julie Snell - Presenter of Site Analysis, Design and Management at the Mid-Atlantic Accreditation Course in Philadelphia Dec 8-11

We love to highlight the work and accomplishments of our AOLCPs and our course presenters.
Julie Snell, ASLA and AOLCP, will be teaching at the NOFA course for the first time!

Julie writes: 
Since learning about NOFA's Organic Land Care Program, I have had the amazing opportunity to apply the principles of health, ecology, care and fairness in many aspects of my work. Whether it is managing public landscapes in Philadelphia, teaching a university urban ecology class,​ or in establishing my own practice, the ecological standards that NOFA upholds have been a valuable guide.

​During my first day of the Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care in New Haven, I ​quickly ​realized we needed to bring this training to Philadelphia. Fast forward to this year 2014 - I'm thrilled to be teaching the Site Analysis, Design and Management section at  ​the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Accreditation Course in Philadelphia!

Here is an example of a project which we recently completed at TEND.  In preparation for the ​installation of the new ​Market Street Dog Run, ​TEND specified the pruning of existing trees, aeration of soil, and incorporation of leaf mold into the trees' root zone month​s prior to construction.
Photos from TEND landscape inc.
We planted Ornamental grass, Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass) at the Market Street Dog Run.