As you know, I’m really into
gardening, especially the ‘green’ kind, like environmentally friendly things
such as not using a gas-powered engine for my lawn mower when a rechargeable or
push model would do. I know you get what I’m talking about. You’re one of the
original pioneers of eco-travel, circling the world every year on nothing but
reindeer power (or is that considered natural gas)? Never mind, the point of my
letter is it’s been a good year for me in regards to getting some cool stuff
for the lawn and garden that’s eco-friendly too. So this year, you can skip my
house, conserve a little energy and cut down on the packaging. But, if any of
my friends have listed lawn and garden gear on their wish list, can you make it
the green kind too?
Just in case you need a few
suggestions, here’s what I’d offer them if I were you. First, it’s going to be
cold and not much gardening is really going on after the holidays, so lets get
good book on the subject. The Green Gardener’s Guide by…uhhh, never mind
about the author. But it is the perfect resource to get them in the right frame
of mind for spring.
Next, for those weekend
warriors on your list, consider getting them manual or rechargeable lawn and
landscape tools. They’re awesome and a lot more efficient than they used to be.
Personally, I’m hoping you can manage to talk the folks at Fiskars into
releasing one of their brand new reel mowers that will be coming out soon. Just
ask them for the Momentum; that’s the name they’ve given it and I hear it works
awesomely! (I've included a picture at the top of this post so you can show your elves). By the way, they would make great gifts since they’re pretty cheap and
don’t take up as much room in your sleigh. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen
pictures of your place other than winter but if the snow ever melts, you might
want to think about getting one of these babies for yourself. (Frankly Santa, I
think the exercise would do you good).
By the way, if you run short
on product, I found a neat online
store that sells a lot of eco-friendly tools. They’re called Clean Air
Gardening and you can check them out for yourself online whenever you get a
Finally, we all need a good pair of gloves.
West County Gardener Company has a new style that’s made from recycled plastic
water bottles. For every pair that’s made, one less bottle makes it to the
landfill. Now that’s very cool, don’t you think Santa? So, that’s it for now. I
know you have a lot more letters to read and work to do.
All the best and safe
travels to you, Rudolf and the others.
Last Friday and Saturday, I assembled a very impressive pool of talent from Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia to converge on Greensgrow Farm, nationally recognized as the leader in urban sustainable farming. Its location is just three miles north of downtown Philly, barely noticeable amongst tightly packed row houses that surround it.
Until recently, I didn’t know about Greensgrow Farm, but I did know about its co-founder and chief farmhand, Mary Seton Corboy. We had worked together when she guest-hosted with me on a GardenSmart episode a couple years ago. I was impressed with her then, but now I know why I felt such a deep admiration for this woman.
Just over 10 years ago, Mary was in search of a place to cultivate locally grown lettuce to supply area chefs and restaurants. With such a high demand and limited supply, the idea was a sure winner…if she could just find something close and affordable. The site she found was hardly the type of location you’d expect for growing organic fruits and vegetables. You see, the one-acre plot of land was a former galvanized steel plant, now abadonded as an industrial brownfield. What would stop most people dead in their tracks didn’t faze Mary. She saw the potential, rolled up her sleeves and went to work.
Since this plot of land Mary chose to call home was unfit to plant her lettuce directly into the ground, she developed a system for growing her lettuce hydroponically, above ground and without soil. Her makeshift troughs were rain gutters. In short order she perfected her system and soon her customers were clamoring for other varieties of Mary’s delicious produce. Since not every crop is best suited for hydroponic growing, she had to find a way to utilize this finite space in a more traditional way. So she trucked in many tons of organic soil and loaded it into very deep raised beds. Soon she was not only supplying her clients with a wide variety of fruits and veggies, her bumper crops allowed her to open her business to her neighbors and community. Area residents quickly ventured into Mary’s tiny farm. On Saturdays, they would snatch up the fresh in-season produce and fruit; for many a novelty as such a treat is uncommon and unavailable in urban neighborhoods such as these.
It didn’t stop there. Rural farms and orchards just outside of town began supplying many of the edibles Mary was unable or simply didn’t have the room to grow. And from that, her “City” Supported Agricultural co-op was born. Similar to a traditional “Community” CSA, Mary likes using her version to emphasize the symbiotic link between urban dwellers with the local growers in neighboring rural communities.
And while all of this is going on, Greensgrow successfully manages to make their bio-diesel that fuels the big yellow delivery truck. The raw material is spent cooking oil from area eateries; a resource that is in no short supply! Adjacent to the fuel making operation lies a dozen or more honeybee boxes, filled with combs and oozing with honey. The bees are an important component to the success of Greensgrow’s bounty. In such an intown setting, attracting sufficient quantities of pollinators can be a daunting task. But with these happy hives, there is a plethora of pollinators and an abundance of honey. So much so in fact it too is sold at the weekly farm stand under the label Honey from the Hood.
As excited as I was to see all that was being accomplished with limited funds, space and human resources, there was still more. Between the beehives and bio-diesel, a lush and lovely living roof covered the large storage shed. Its purpose, in addition to being beautiful to look at, was to capture and retain rainwater, reducing runoff, sequester carbon and return oxygen, reduce the heat island effect and promote biodiversity. Not a bad use of space and something we could all do at our homes and businesses.
Finally, there was the community kitchen. Located at a church just down the street, Mary has arranged for Chef Corbin Evans to teach local residents everything they need to know to cook and prepare delicious meals and extend the menu with fresh in-season produce. It’s the culmination of the complete cycle and a wonderful example of sustainability in action.
You can likely understand my infatuation with this urban agricultural wonderland and why I was so excited to be there for the location of my first episode and pilot of my new series. I’ve always wanted a forum to tell stories of people, places, and companies that are doing their part to grow a greener world. I’d say Mary and her small but talented staff are prime examples of that! It just goes to show you, abandoned land only is only unproductive if you choose to leave it that way! JL
OK all you professional or wanna be graphic designers (like me), here's your chance to have your work seen on National TV every week and more. If you come up with the design we choose to use for our new national series on PBS, you'll get a cash award of $500 and we'll credit you and/or your company in every episode! This will be a show that will be seen across the country by millions of viewers! The logo in this post is good but we think a different look would be better. We want fresh, simple and bright; a catchy clean look is what we're after (we think).
Here's a brief write up on the show in case you need more:
Growing a Greener World is a groundbreaking new series that delivers the latest trends in eco-friendly living mixed with traditional gardening know-how to a 21st-century audience. Each episode will feature the people, organizations, and events that are making a difference in our world today by raising awareness and influencing others to better stewardship of the environment we all share.
Submit your entries by midnight on October 16, 2009 to firstname.lastname@example.org.