sustainability

Stormwater Research from Extension

stormwater running into a street drain

Our UConn Extension educators working in land use, and the environment have recently published two articles:

Extension Educators Mike Dietz and Chet Arnold have an article, Can Green Infrastructure Provide Both Water Quality and Flood Reduction Benefits?, in the May issue of the Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment. You can read the article online at: http://s.uconn.edu/476

The UConn CLEAR NEMO team recently wrote an article on our State of LID in Connecticut study that was published in the Watershed Science Bulletin. The study looked at what is being required for stormwater management practices by Connecticut municipal land use plans and regulations. Much of the leg work for the study was carried out by our Extension intern a few years ago. The article can be read online at: http://s.uconn.edu/477.

Environmental Leadership Award Winners

Dave-Mike
Dave Dickson and Mike Dietz with their Environmental Leadership Awards.

The UConn Environmental Policy Advisory Council recently awarded their 2013-2016 Environmental Leadership Awards, and we are pleased to announce that UConn Extension educators were recognized.

The NEMO Rain Garden Outreach Team, consisting of Dave Dickson and Mike Dietz won the Team Award. Mike Dietz also won the Alumni award.

Luc Dang, a former intern with our Center for Land Use Education and Research was a runner up in the undergraduate category.

Jeremy Jelliffe, a graduate student with Extension Educator Boris Bravo-Ureta was a runner up in the graduate category.

Extension Educator Morty Ortega was a runner up in the faculty category.

Cameron Faustman and Jillian Ives from Academic Programs received a special recognition for their Huskies Ending Food Waste program. Congratulations to all of our award winners!

Sustainable Landscapes

low maintenance lawn-landscape bed-salsedoDr. Carl Salsedo, UConn Extension Educator for Sustainable and Environmental Horticulture has been encouraging Connecticut residents to practice sustainable landscapes for years. Salsedo encourages everyone to practice sustainable landscaping as Connecticut residents look towards spring and warmer weather.

 

“I’ve been gardening sustainably at home in Burlington since before it was trendy,” Salsedo notes. “I use native plants and reduce the maintenance and inputs including fertilizer and water. I had to adapt some of my plant choices to the garden site and different microclimates. My plants are all boilerplate – low maintenance conifers, perennials and broadleaf plants that are easy to grow and maintain.

 

Can you give some examples of native plants from your garden or that people should try?

Shrubs such as northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) require very little care.

 

Sustainability has an array of definitions. Salsedo has five main principles for maintaining a sustainable landscape:

 

– Develop a sustainable lawn that doesn’t rely on chemicals and nutritional additives. Weeds are okay.

– Use primarily native plants: alternatives to traditional choices.

– Foster a healthy environment utilizing drought tolerant and low maintenance grasses.

– A bio-diverse garden and landscape supports a wide variety of life.

– Recycle your leaves and grass clippings, use them as mulch or compost them in your gardens.

 

leaves as mulch-Salsedo“If you do only one thing at home, recycle your leaves and grass clippings,” Salsedo states. “I use as much as 100 yards of fallen leaves as mulch in my gardens.” Some of these leaves come from a local landscaper who augments my supply.

 

“Through my work with UConn Extension, we have many resources available for people interested in sustainable practices in suburban landscapes,” Salsedo adds. He teaches the class, Fundamentals of Horticulture 1100 at the UConn Greater Hartford Campus. Salsedo also has a series on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) called Gardening with Nature and a companion website at www.cptv.org keyword gardening. This past year CPTV and the Connecticut Public Broadcasting media lab created an interactive i-book for the Gardening with Natureseries that can be accessed at: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/gardening-with-nature/id679242172?mt=11 

 

What other resources are available or other upcoming programs are you working on?

I have fact sheets I’ve written and a lot of information is on the CPTV website. I give a lot of talks and am a member of the UConn Extension Connecticut School IPM Coalition team that works on sustainability issues on K-8 school grounds.

 

For more information about Sustainable Landscapes please contact Dr. Carl Salsedo at 860-570-9060 or carl.salsedo@uconn.edu

Be A Scientist for a Day

UConn Extension is hosting a large-scale statewide science project on May 8th

 

ext_top_p_289On May 8, 2014, UConn Extension is asking the public to join our faculty, staff, 4-H volunteers, and master gardeners in a vast science project across the state, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of UConn Extension. One hundred years ago on that date, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act to serve as a conduit for scientific advances in agriculture, nutrition, and natural resources from the nation’s public, land-grant universities to its farmers, youth, and communities.

“UConn Extension ties research to real life for Connecticut communities, citizens, and businesses,” said Mike O’Neill, Associate Dean and Associate Director of UConn Extension. “To celebrate the anniversary of Cooperative Extension, we are asking citizens to be scientists for a day so that all of us will better understand our natural, agricultural, and urban communities.”

“Our programs create practical, science-based tools and technologies to help solve complex problems,” O’Neill continues. “Extension provides outreach, knowledge, and expertise to the public in areas such as: economic viability, business and industry, community development, agriculture, and natural resources.”

Background:

To participate in the UConn Extension Celebration of Science and Service on May 8, people just need to answer any or all of the following three questions:

What do you do for your health?

UConn Extension knows that sometimes it isn’t motivation; it’s just finding the time. On May 8th – we challenge you to fifteen minutes of fitness. Go for a walk, run, bike ride, play basketball, or garden. Be creative. In our 4-H youth development program, healthy living is a holistic approach that addresses eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, recognizing and directing emotions, and developing and maintaining positive social interactions.

Spend fifteen minutes on May 8th focusing on healthy living. Then fill out the form on our blog, or post your name, your town, and what you did on our Facebook page, email this information to extension@uconn.edu or call us with your results: 860-486-9228.

How do you conserve water?

Do you conserve water in your garden, landscape, household, or farm? UConn Extension encourages all residents to sign up for the 40 Gallon Challenge. Sign up today, and then fill out the form on our blog, or post your name, your town and how you plan to conserve water to our Facebook page, email this information to extension@uconn.edu, or call us: 860-486-9228.

“Connecticut is a water rich state,” O’Neill notes. “But drought conditions out west, population growth, and increasing water demands are adding stress to the water supply locally and nationally. Reducing water usage at home will also help homeowners keep more money in their wallets.”

barnum vegetablesWhere is food grown in your community?

Do you grow your own food or get homegrown food from a neighbor who gardens? Is there a community farm nearby, a farmer’s market or farm stand? This project encourages you to discover exactly where food is grown in your community, and at the same time contribute to a statewide understanding of how widespread local food production is throughout Connecticut.

Sign up for UConn Extension’s 10% Local Campaign and then fill out the form on our blog, or post your name, your town and how you plan to buy 10% local to our Facebook page, email the details to extension@uconn.edu, or call us: 860-486-9228.

UConn Extension will be tracking the results of our May 8th science project on our website, blog and Facebook page.

About UConn Extension

This year, during our 100th Anniversary, UConn Extension celebrates the millions of youth, adults, families, farmers, community leaders and others who engage in our learning opportunities designed to extend knowledge and change lives.  UConn Extension will continue to serve as the premier provider of educational services to all Connecticut residents outside of traditional classroom settings.

Dr. Carl Salsedo on the Search for Sustainability

Salsedo copyEver smell a tomato plant? Dr. Carl Salsedo did, and it changed his life. He was three at the time, visiting a greenhouse in Thomaston with his father. One whiff of that singular scent launched a lifetime love affair with plants, gardening, and the interwoven mysteries of the natural world. At six, Salsedo had his own garden. By age 12, he was working at Bristol Nurseries, the world’s epicenter for modern mums. It’s been onward and upward since then.

 

Not so long after he moved to his hilltop home in Burlington in 1977, he was gardening sustainably before it was even a recognized concept, exploring the warp and weft of nature’s networks. That meant, in the most simple terms, using mostly native plants while at the same time minimizing maintenance and inputs such as fertilizer, water, etc. One of the key elements was selecting plants adapted to his site and its varied microclimates. “The plants are all boilerplate,” he says. “Low maintenance, conifers, perennials and broadleaf stuff you can’t miss with. Easy.”

 

But just because it’s sustainable doesn’t mean it’s ugly. Salsedo’s garden has been open to visitors as part of the national Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program for nearly a decade.

 

Sustainability means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but Salsedo boiled the concept down to its essence by identifying what he believes are five basic tenets: development of a sustainable lawn (one that doesn’t rely on chemicals and nutritional additives and in which weeds are okay); use of native plants, not exclusively, but primarily; fostering a healthy environment; creating a biodiverse landscape, and practicing good ecology. “If you do one thing, recycle your leaves and your grass clippings,” he says. As much as 100 yards of fallen leaves are used as winter compost in Salsedo’s gardens.

 

It’s all about gardening with nature, which also happens to be the name of a CPTV series Salsedo hosted about a decade ago.

 

“What I advocate is stuff everybody can do,” he says. “It’s the democratization of the landscape.”

 

And Salsedo can do lots of advocating in his position as Extension Educator-Sustainable and Environmental Horticulture with UConn Extension. He is based in the Hartford County office and his responsibilities include developing sustainable landscaping programs and publications, and teaching the Fundamentals of Horticulture course at the West Hartford campus.

 

In addition, Salsedo completed a series for Connecticut Public Television entitled “Gardening with Nature,” that promoted sustainable practices within the suburban landscape. These vignettes are still broadcast throughout the year and the series has found a new home on the web and has been greatly expanded by Salsedo and Connecticut Public Television (available at www.cptv.org – keyword gardening).

 

Another of Salsedo’s most enduring research interests is exploring how people connect to nature through gardening and what makes us garden in the first place. He shared his findings in a book entitled “Gardening: Cultivating an Enduring Relationship with Nature” published in 2010.

 

Perhaps the seed of that interest was planted back when Salsedo was installing a swimming pool at his Burlington home. He hired a guy with an earth-moving excavator who, Salsedo says, happened to be a genius. Months later, Salsedo’s sloping hillside yard had been transformed into a staircase of terraced beds. The new topography just seemed to Salsedo a natural thing to do. He never wondered why. At least not until he visited his grandfather’s home on a tiny volcanic island not far from Sicily. There, all the land was terraced, the whole island. “So why did I terrace my hillsides?” he asks. Maybe it’s genetic.

 

And so too, there may be a genetic component to Salsedo’s desire to work in harmony with nature. If that’s the case, that desire may lie latent in all our genes, waiting to be rediscovered.

 

Originally published in the October 2013 issue of the Connecticut Horticultural Society newsletter.