Yesterday I wrote about the first Sustainability Expo that was being held in Stamford that evening. I attended the event, along with scores of other people, and thought I would share some of the highlights from the evening.
In the lobby of the Government Center there were a few dozen booths from sustainability-minded companies and/or organizations such as the New England Wildflower Society (I picked up some information about invasive plants), the Northeast Organic Farming Association (I got information about organic land care), the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (lots more info about invasive plants in CT), SteaZ (I got a yummy sample of an organic peach tea…by the way, check out their website for a cool visual of hummingbirds and butterflies flying around!) and R.U.F. Products which was showcasing a beautiful rain barrel.
In addition to the vendor displays, there were also lectures about sustainable gardening and about some of the efforts Stamford is taking to clean up the city. I attended the lectures and learned so many interesting facts about Stamford, about managing storm water and the importance of using native plants and NOT using invasives in our gardens.
Stamford is in the process of revitalizing a portion of the Mill River and creating a greenway which will run throughout much of the downtown area of the city. By the end of 2009, the river will be navigable for fish for the first time in 350 years. When the process is complete, Stamford will have over 400 new trees and acres and acres of native plant habitat. I’m excited to see my home town embracing sustainability in such a comprehensive manner.
Another speaker, Erin Mosley, talked about Stamford’s stormwater management system (interesting but not ‘blog worthy’) and she also discussed stormwater management guidelines for home gardens which, if enough homeowners start practicing, can have a major impact. Her suggestions include:
- Using rain barrels
- Planting a rain garden (I plan to write more about this subject but for now you can find a wealth of info in this brochure)
- Adding a green roof
- Limiting your use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Many homeowners unintentionally use too much of these products and the excess simply runs off into the stormwater system and ultimately into our rivers, lakes and oceans.
The next speaker was Larry Weiner, a landscape designer who uses native plants to solve all sorts of site issues for his clients. He showed slides of some of his residental and commercial projects and most, if not all, used a rain garden to mitigate drainage issues. While Larry’s design style is very naturalistic, he freely admits that native plants can be used successfully in any type of designed landscape.
The final speaker of the evening was Eric Morgan, the chief botanist at the Bartlett Arboretum. Eric spoke about invasive species and the lengths the Bartlett goes to in order to remove them each year so that beneficial natives can grow and thrive. I was astounded to learn that the US spends $120,000,000 each year (yes, that is the correct # of 0′s!) dealing with invasives. That comes out to approx. $400 per person. For example, the state of Vermont spends tons of money each year removing Norway maples. Norway maples are invasive and crowd out other native trees. Apparently Norway maples turn a muddy brown in the fall and people who typically travel to Vermont for the spectacular foliage displays are not returning because the Norway maples are impacting the seasonal color in the entire state. Who would have guessed that the impact of invasive plants is so far-reaching.
As you can tell, I learned so much in the three hours I spent at the Sustainability Expo. I have tons of good subject matter for future blog posts!