By Jenevra Wetmore
Planting and encouraging milkweed in your yard and garden provides monarch butterflies with the plant required for laying eggs and feeding larvae. In the past two decades monarch populations have plummeted 90% due to climate change, destruction of milkweed habitat and spraying of herbicides and neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics). The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the monarch butterfly on the IUCN Red List as endangered. Photo: Michael J. Caduto
Have you been wondering how to take action against climate change? Changing temperatures, biodiversity loss, environmental and social injustices– the challenges our world faces are enough to overwhelm anyone. In the face of this anxiety, it can be easy to feel disempowered. How can one person make meaningful change? Happily, one powerful resource is already in our hands—our lawns and gardens.
Sustainable Woodstock’s Summer Series:
This summer, Sustainable Woodstock is hosting a three-part educational series focused on gardening for the earth. This series spans the end of June to Mid-July and features three local garden experts. Each event has a different focus, but all three are united with the common theme of gardening for our planet—from sequestering carbon and increasing soil health to planting for pollinators. Is this series for you? Anyone with a garden of any size—from one or two containers to full vegetable and perennial gardens—is welcome. Don’t have a garden, but interested in starting one? These workshops are the perfect way to get going.
The series begins on Thursday June 29th 5:30 PM at Sustainable Woodstock’s Billings Community Garden. Cat Buxton will present “No-Till: Gardening Without Disturbance,” which will demonstrate how to transition away from tillage in your garden. Cat will discuss how to employ the soil health principles in context and will broaden your understanding of how to create conditions for thriving ecosystems.
The second workshop “Wild Gardens: Why and How to Garden with Nature” will take place on Thursday July 6th and will feature Alicia Houk, the founder and gardener of the Wild Garden Alliance. Alicia will present on how to transform your yard into a beautiful, thriving habitat, so you can reconnect with nature at home and sleep better at night, knowing your gardens are providing much needed sanctuary to the creatures that visit your yard (all while sequestering carbon and building climate resilience). Join us and learn to transform your yard into beautiful, thriving habitat!
Thursday July 13th Rick Enser will present the third workshop, “Gardening for Biodiversity.” This workshop will introduce the best ways to conserve and enhance the biological diversity of your yard and will answer two basic questions: what are the best plants (native and non-native) for enhancing biodiversity on your property, and how can insect pests and invasive plants be controlled without using chemicals?
Gardening and Climate Change
Growing a garden is an act of hope. Leah Penniman, farmer, author, and food justice activist, described this in an interview: “farming is inherently about the future. How do I invest in this soil so that it’s better five years from now?” Making tangible physical changes to our land is a way to invest in our planet and to create the future we want. This might sound overly aspirational, but slow, small changes can make a big difference to the surrounding environment.
A good way to start is saying goodbye to your lawn. Overall, lawns just aren’t that good for the environment. To keep our lawns looking green and healthy we add 90 million pounds of fertilizer and 78 million pounds of pesticides to them every year. Even worse, maintaining them requires countless gallons of oil and gasoline. Converting lawn into garden is an excellent way to combat climate change, create habitat, filter storm water and sequester carbon. The first two workshops of this series, on June 29th and July 6th, will address ways to convert lawn into garden.
If you already have a garden then there is always more you can do to make it more climate-friendly. Planting native plant species in your perennial garden will attract wildlife, providing food and habitat to species including pollinators. As you plant natives remember to eradicate invasive plants that have taken residence on your property, or manage them so they do not spread. Both the July 6th and July 13th workshops will provide participants with ideas of what to plant in perennial gardens to increase diversity and benefit pollinators. For annual vegetable gardens, focus on improving your soil health. Cat Buxton’s June 29th workshop will hone in on this concept, with suggestions on how to build no-till gardens, as well as how to convert your existing garden to no till.
The antidote to despair is taking action. Attend one or all three workshops this summer to learn about gardening to benefit nature. To garden is to hope and plan for a better future—we invite you to join us.
To register for Gardening for the Earth workshops, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/o/sustainable-woodstock-26315188841