Review of The Humane Gardener, by Nancy Lawson

Reviewed by Ann Di Fiore

As a Fairfax Master Naturalist and Audubon at Home Ambassador, I am always on the lookout for books on native plant and wildlife gardening. The Humane Gardener (2017, 224 pp) offers insights on both topics, but what sets Lawson’s book apart from others is her emphasis on creating habitats that nurture all forms of wildlife. Interspersed with chapters on native plantings, creating habitat, and the benefits of decaying plant material are profiles of humane gardeners whose properties range from modest backyards to commercial farms.

Many of the principles Lawson lays out are well known to master naturalists: “Plant for all seasons and sizes” to address “diverse diners”; use “green mulch”—native grasses and groundcovers—rather than bark in between shrubs and trees to improve soil; choose straight species over cultivars; and don’t “love” –overwater and over fertilize—native plants.

Lawson urges us to be attentive to gardening activities that have tragic consequences for wildlife.  In a section entitled “Don’t Mow the Teenagers,”she warns us that mowing, pruning, and raking can cut short the life cycles of ground insects and other animals. Fritillary larvae, for example, crawl onto violet plants in early spring and, as Doug Tallamy puts it, “we murder them with our lawn mowers.”  Baby rabbits in hidden nests and other young animals are vulnerable as well.

When removing invasive plants from our properties, Lawson asks us to “triage” their removal to minimize adverse effects on wildlife that make use of these plants. Early blooming invasives may be the only available nectar sources to bees, fruiting shrubs like Amur honeysuckles may fill a significant part of a bird’s diet.

In The Humane Gardener, Lawson addresses an uncomfortable truth:  the wild creatures most gardeners want to support are songbirds and pollinators. Many other forms of wildlife we consider interlopers—enemies. She enumerates the cruelties inflicted by pest removal services, glue traps, even “humane” deterrents (predator urine, for instance, is captured from caged coyotes and other animals on fur farms). She advocates flexibility and a more generous perspective:  opossums and raccoons eat carrion, ticks, and slugs; rabbits devour dandelions; and moles and chipmunks till the soil, increasing its fertility.

In a world of shrinking natural spaces and biodiversity, Lawson asks us to reconsider our ideas of ownership and make room for all forms of wildlife.  Above all, she asks that we be conscious of the consequences of our routine gardening choices.  She promises that our gardens will be healthier—and more humane—as a result.

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Encourage students to submit to Next Gen Capture Conservation Film Contest 2018

 The American Conservation Film Festival is sponsoring its annual  youth-targeted short film initiative to encourage young people ages 5 to 18 to explore their relationship with nature and the world around them through the medium of film and video. Deadline for submissions: 1 September 2018

Submission Guidelines 

1. All films must be uploaded to Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/groups/456630 and submitted online no later than September 1, 2018. 

2. Films cannot exceed four minutes in length, including credits. 

3. All films must be produced in 2017 or 2018 and feature the entrant’s relationship with environmental, cultural, and/or historic conservation. The theme is intentionally wide-reaching to allow for diverse creativity, interpretation, and message. 

4. All youth submitting films must be age 18 or younger on the day the film is submitted. Actors or interviewees in the film can be any age. If working under the direction of a teacher, mentor, or parent, that person must describe his/her role in detail. 

5. Film categories are: Students age 10 & under; students age 11 to 14; students age 15 to 18; and team projects of two or more students (up to 5 persons) age 18 or under. 

6. All entries must be accompanied by a submission form including student name, age, mailing address, email address (if applicable), phone number, and title of film. 

7. The film must be accompanied by the tagline “This film was created for the American Conservation Film Festival – Next Gen Capture Conservation Contest” in the credits. 

8. All videos must be the original work of the entrant. Entrants should NOT use music, graphics, or footage that was created by others without obtaining rights (a license) to use it. 

9. Winning filmmakers will be asked to sign a release form granting the American Conservation Film Festival the rights to use, display or distribute the film. The American Conservation Film Festival does not limit the original creator’s use of the work in any way. 

10. Entrants can help promote their film and the contest using the hashtag #NextGenCaptureConservation on social media sites. 

Learn more

Attend Community-driven Citizen Science for Health and the Environment symposium, 14 June

The AAAS Fellows Crowdsourcing & Citizen Science Affinity Group and the South Big Data Innovation Hub proudly present a free symposium: Community-driven Citizen Science for Health and the Environment

The democratization of science and technology represents a tremendous opportunity to empower communities to address issues of local concern and to expand scientific knowledge used in policymaking in both the environment and the health sectors. Citizen science presents a tangible opportunity for the general public to connect with research and science policy by creating opportunities for real, needs-based engagement. However, without intentional processes and design, it is possible to exacerbate existing inequalities. This symposium will address the intersection of two complementary approaches: community-driven research and citizen science.

At its core, community-driven research involves the impacted community into research question and hypothesis generation. Once identified, the research questions may combine traditional and citizen science approaches in data collection and analysis. In contrast,  many citizen science projects are conceived and initiated by scientists to answer research questions and leverage non-professionals as a means to crowdsource data collection and/or analysis. This symposium seeks to focus on questions and techniques developed outside of the traditional scientific community to engage communities in both participation and co-creation.

This symposium will begin with a keynote address presenting a common understanding of community-driven research and citizen science. Related policies, projects, issues, and strategies will then be addressed in a series of three panels that focus on different aspects of community-driven citizen science.

Panels will cover these three themes:

  1. Community-Driven Water Quality Projects Focused on Aquatic Systems
  2. Addressing Equity in Environmental Health Using Community-Driven Citizen Science
  3. The Role of Large Citizen Science Platforms in Supporting Community-Driven Projects

Panelists will reflect viewpoints across the citizen science spectrum: from funders, to researchers, to members of impacted communities. The panelists will address policy considerations and contributions, broadening participation of underrepresented groups, project design and implementation, and outcomes.

Additionally, an expo for local community-driven citizen science projects will highlight local projects and organizations. Lightning talks by the exhibiting groups, sharing their interests in and/or experience with community-driven projects, will provide conversation-starters to facilitate networking.

At the end of the day, the goal is for attendees to gain a better understanding of the potential research, public engagement, and policy applications of community-driven citizen science and to advance their involvement with a broader network of interested communities.

* Co-sponsored by the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub*

Follow the discussion on Twitter with #AAASCitSci and #BDHubs!

Symposium Panelists and Moderators:

Karen Andersen, Friends of the Shenandoah River
Jay Benforado, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Gari Clifford, Emory University
Jennifer Couch, National Institutes of Health
John Dawes, Chesapeake Commons
Julia Drapkin, ISeeChange
Maura Duffy, National Aquarium
Scott Loarie, iNaturalist
Liam O’Fallon, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Raj Pandya, American Geophysical Union
Amanda Rockler, University of Maryland
Rodney Sampson, Opportunity Hub, Brookings
Lea Shanley, South Big Data Innovation Hub
Trey Sherard, Anacostia Riverkeeper
Stinger Guala, U.S. Geological Survey
Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland

Organizations participating in the Expo:

Reston Association
OpenAQ (as DataKind DC volunteer)
GLOBE Observer/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
ISeeChange
Audubon Naturalist Society
American Geophysical Union/ Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX)
U.S. Geological Survey
Washington Square Park Eco Projects
The New York Botanical Garden
AAAS
SciStarter

Agenda:

8:00 AM Arrival, check in, coffee

8:45 Welcome remarks by Carrie Seltzer and Stella Tarnay

9:00 Keynote address by Raj Pandya, Thriving Earth Exchange

9:30 Break

9:45 Panel 1: Community-Driven Projects Focused on Aquatic Systems

11:15 AM Lunch: Citizen science project lightning talks and expo

12:45 PM Panel 2: Addressing Equity in Environmental Health Using Community-Driven Citizen Science

2:15 Break

2:30 Panel 3: The Role of Large Citizen Science Platforms in Supporting Community-Driven Projects

4:00 Reception & citizen science project expo (continued)

5:30 End

 

American Association for the Advancement of Science
Auditorium
1200 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

Thursday, 14 June 2018
8:00 am-5:30 pm EDT

Register here: https://www.aaaspolicyfellowships.org/events/symposium-community-driven-ctizen-science-health-and-environment

 

Volunteer for Earth Sangha Nursery workdays

Join Earth Sangha on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm for regular nursery workdays. Volunteers can help with the whole range of native plant propagation activities  from weeding, watering and transplanting.

Please wear shoes that can get muddy and bring your own water.

Please email Lisa @ lbright@earthsangha.org) if you’re interested in attending.

The nursery is in Springfield, Virginia, in Franconia Park, which lies just south of the Beltway, and just east of the Beltway’s intersection with Routes 95 and 395. Access is from Franconia Road (644). From Franconia, turn north on Thomas Drive, less than half a mile east of the 395/95 intersection. There is a traffic light at Thomas. From Thomas, turn right onto Meriwether Lane. Turn left onto Cloud Drive. Please park in the parking lot at the bottom of the entrance road, then walk down the dirt road along the community gardens. Our nursery lies beyond the community gardens.

Join Matt Bright for a Conservation Walk at Marie Butler Leven Preserve

Marie Butler Leven Preserve offers 20 acres of rich woodlands and meadows that are being managed step-by-step into a virtual library of plants native to the greater Washington, D.C. area. This visit to the Preserve will be split between a walk through the preserve and helping with management of invasives and planting of natives. The walk will pass by a partially restored meadow with a mix of native forbs and grasses as well as remnant turf grasses, and down the wooded slopes towards Pimmit Run to a small seepage-fed wetland. Volunteers will be given a tour of restoration efforts of the park as well as native flora of note.  The group will be working on removing Vinca from an area where it threatens native populations of Phlox divaricata and Erythronium americanum.

Be prepared! Given the work, come with sturdy shoes, appropriate clothing for avoiding ticks, and gloves if you prefer. Also sunscreen, bug spray, and drinking water. Gloves and tools will be provided.

Matt Bright is Conservation Manager at the Earth Sangha, where he has worked full-time since 2011 on plant propagation, conservation, and restoration here in Northern Virginia and in the rural Dominican Republic. He lives on site at Marie Butler Leven Preserve with his wife Katherine Isaacson, who is the Outreach and Development Coordinator also at the Earth Sangha. Matt is a Certified Horticulturist with the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) and an instructor for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. Before joining the Sangha full-time, Matt attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Sponsored by VNPS, this program is free and open to the public. However, space is limited so please click here to REGISTER.

To CANCEL your registration or ask a QUESTION, please email vnps.pot@gmail.com.

Marie Butler Leven Preserve

1501 Kirby Lane, McLean VA  22101

Saturday, May 26th

1.00 -3.00 pm

Grasses: the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly, 12 July

Botanist and grass enthusiast Sarah Chamberlain speaks on the grasses of the Mid-Atlantic region: natives useful for growing in your yard, naturalized non-natives, and the invasive exotics that pose a threat to native landscapes; how to tell who’s who, and what we know about how to get rid of the bad actors.

Arlington Central Library
1015 N Quincy St, Arlington, VA 22201
Thursday, 12 July 2018
7.30-9.00 pm

Sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society. This program is free and open to the public.

Cranberry Lake Film and Talk

Cranberry Lake is a 17-minute documentary about forest ecology students taking immersive field courses in the Adirondacks.  The film explores the connection between experiential learning and environmental stewardship.  A planned Question and Answer session will follow the screening of the film.

Zoya Baker is an award-winning filmmaker and animator based in New York City. Her work includes films, documentaries, commercials, and television shows. Zoya received a BFA in Film & Television at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is currently pursuing an MFA at Hunter College Integrated Media Arts program.

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road
Alexandria, VA 22312
Thursday, 14 June 2018
7.30 pm – 9.00 pm

Sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).  VNPS programs are free and open to the public.

Attend the Sustainability Showcase and Awards event

Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) Sustainability Champions Awards celebrate and recognize the contributions of individuals, congregations, businesses and local elected officials/public sector employees in Northern Virginia. These individuals and organizations work tirelessly toward improving the environment; contributing to a healthy, livable climate, in our community.  Awards will be presented in four categories: individual, congregation, local business, and local elected official/public sector employees.

The day’s schedule follows:

3-4:00 PM Showcase “Expo” featuring local organizations’ sustainability initiatives. Email info@faithforclimate.org to reserve a table.

4-5:00 PM Keynote and presentation of 2018 FACS Sustainability Champion Awards

All are welcome to this event! Please email info@faithforclimate.org with any questions or visit Faithforclimate.org.

Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ

5010 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22207

Sunday, 10 June 2018

3.00 – 5.00 pm

 

Join NVCT’s Alexandria Kayak/Canoe Cleanup on June 2nd

Please join the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) for its annual Kayak/Canoe Cleanup of the tidal estuary of Cameron Run at Hunting Creek in Alexandria. NVCT will have a limited number of boats available for volunteer use, but if you have your own, please bring it to support the cause! This is a beautiful landscape and precious wildlife habitat, so it is a great opportunity to help nearby nature while enjoying a morning on the water.

Park at the Porto Vecchio condo building where the group will put in.

1250 S Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Saturday, 2 June 2018

9.30 am – 1.00 pm

Look for grants from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

State and federal grants are available for these conservation projects:

Learn more

Join or volunteer for the 2018 Sustainable Garden Tour, 10 June

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2018 Sustainable Garden Tour  features rain gardens, green roofs, native plant landscaping, rain barrels, backyard wildlife habitat, composting, and more. Local residents open their gardens and share their experiences landscaping with natural resources in mind. Visitors on the tour are allowed to visit each garden at their own pace, and may visit as many or as few as they like. There is no RSVP required, and the tour is free and open to all: Sunday, June 10,  1-5 pm at sites throughout the Fairfax-Falls Church-Annandale area,

NVSWCD needs volunteers to assist garden hosts. Volunteers will welcome and guide visitors and provide information. Each volunteer will be assigned to one of nine sites:

  1. Booker Residence, 3442 Surrey Lane, Falls Church VA
  2. Sawhney Residence, 4212 Saint Jerome Dr, Annandale, VA 22003
  3. King Residence, 4023 Roberts Road, Fairfax VA 22032
  4. Belvedere Elementary School, 6540 Columbia Pike, Falls Church VA 22041
  5. Chesterfield Mews Community Association, BEHIND 3170 Readsborough Ct, Fairfax VA 22031
  6. Daniels Run Peace Church, 3729 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030
  7. Carosella Residence, 2903 Rosemary Lane, Falls Church, VA 22042
  8. Meara Residence, 7211  Arthur Drive, Falls Church, VA 22046
  9. Jones Residence, 3517 Queen Anne Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030

You can sign up to volunteer for the whole time (12:30 – 5 pm) or one of two shifts (12:30 – 3 or 2:30 – 5).

Please contact Ashley Palmer: Ashley.Palmer@fairfaxcounty.gov