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Earth Sangha seeks part-time office manager

Want to put your office skills to work protecting forests and meadows? The Earth Sangha seeks a part-time Office Manager to support their office. The Office Manager will be responsible for the various day-to-day tasks that make a small nonprofit run. These tasks include, but aren’t limited to: database management (Filemaker), data entry (Excel), mailings (stuffing envelopes and labeling), basic accounting (Quickbooks), invoicing, updating their email list, event preparation, and answering phones. The Office Manager will be based at the Earth Sangha office (5101 Backlick Road, Suite I, Annandale VA 22003) with occasional work at the Wild Plant Nursery (6100 Cloud Drive, Springfield VA  22150).
No relevant degree/certification necessary, but candidates should have a strong interest in conservation, public service, and have experience in office administration. Candidates must be highly-organized, self-directed, and have good communication and interpersonal skills. $15 per hour to start. For more details see www.earthsangha.org/staff.

Earth Sangha fall open house and native plant sale

Wild Plant Nursery
6100 Cloud Drive, Springfield VA
Sunday, 22 September 2019
10am – 2pm
Click here for the Wild Plant Nursery Species List.

The Fall is really the best time to visit the Earth Sangha nursery. In the Spring, plants are still emerging from winter dormancy, and so they cannot offer as many species. The Fall, as experienced gardeners know, is also the best time to plant! Trees, shrubs, and perennials like the cooler weather and greater rainfall lets them establish robust roots. Late blooming annuals can make great additions to your garden, and many will “volunteer” from seed next year.

All plant sale proceeds go toward local parkland restoration. Last fall, customers helped them raise over $15,600 for local parkland restoration!
Choose from over 275 local-ecotype native species and help them fund the restoration of our area’s native flora.

If you’re interested in volunteering at the sale please email Katherine Isaacson at kisaacson@earthsangha.org. There will be a morning shift (9:45 to Noon) and an afternoon shift (Noon to 2:30).

Earth Sangha workdays all summer

Join Earth Sangha on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays for regular nursery workdays. Volunteers can help with weeding, preparing pots, sowing seeds, and transplanting. Please wear shoes that can get muddy and bring your own water.

Contact Matt Bright if you have questions about the schedule: For safety reasons, we may have to cancel volunteer workdays and nursery hours on short notice because of inclement weather. If you have any questions about scheduling at the nursery call or text Matt Bright at 703 859 2951.

Where: 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. The address to our entrance is 6100 Cloud Drive. 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.

Contact: Matt Bright (mbright@earthsangha.org or 703-859-2951)

If we work together, we can be a true force for nature

Cathy Ledec

If variety really is the spice of life, my work with Fairfax Master Naturalists is a tasty dish indeed. I engage with many projects throughout the year: as the president of the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park, the chair of the Fairfax County Tree Commission, as an Invasive Management Area site leader and Resource Management Volunteer for the Fairfax County Park Authority, Audubon-at-Home Ambassador, and as President of the Pavilions at Huntington Metro Community Association.

Mt. Vernon Government Center before our project

One of the most rewarding projects has been establishing a Natural Landscaping Demonstration project at the Mount Vernon Governmental Center, in Alexandria, Virginia. I attend meetings at this Fairfax County building frequently, and observed that the landscaping around the building had no variety, included mostly turf grass, and lacked blooming plants. The center needed some TLC! When I mentioned my observations and thoughts to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, he was enthusiastic. So I marshaled resources and my network and went to work.

Next steps towards implementation included preparing a planting plan, with drawings of the landscaping beds; and researching and preparing plant lists. I consulted with fellow Fairfax Master Naturalist (FMN) Betsy Martin, who is also an Audubon-at-Home Ambassador and very knowledgeable about native plants. Betsy provided great guidance on low-impact ways to establish the mulched planting beds. These methods included covering the large areas of turf grass with cardboard or newspaper and covering with 3-4 inches of mulch. 

Betsy Martin and George Ledec deep in the mulch

We established the first planting bed in November 2017, with one of Betsy’s friends donating of a huge load of mulch. Consulting with technical experts from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District and Earth Sangha was especially important to the research and writing that resulted in our receiving two grants from these organizations for this project. (The grant writing process was fast, only taking a few months).  

Someone said to me once, “If you don’t plan, plan to fail.” So plan I did! The first planting event was in early April 2018. At the same time that I was planning for the planting, I started pursuing the needed permissions from the Fairfax County Facilities Management Division (FMD). This process was more challenging than I expected, but I kept the end goal in mind and eventually signed off on the needed Memorandum of Understanding with FMD. I knew that once this was signed, it would pave the way for future projects of this type for my fellow FMNers.

The goals of this project were to restore and improve environmental conditions. Converting turf grass areas to mulched planting beds would result in:

  1. Improved stormwater management
  2. Reduced urban heat island effect
  3. Restoration of wildlife habitat
  4. Improved visual appearance of the building
  5. Trees planted to shade the building, reduce summer cooling costs, provide natural privacy screen for staff working inside, and improve the view to the outside for staff working inside

Anticipating questions from the visiting public, I also prepared outreach materials on the project that could be shared with interested visitors.   

Concurrently, I was also contacted during the planning phase by a scout leader looking for an outdoor project for his scouts—what great luck!—and an excellent project for this scout troop and their families. This serendipity brought in more than 90 volunteers to establish the planting beds and the spring planting. The scouts dug holes, planted trees, moved mulch, and completed their work in one weekend. Volunteers rock! Thanks to FMNer Patti Swain for her help guiding the scouts.  

FMNers Maryann Fox and Chris Straub

We did a second planting in the fall of 2018, with thanks to FMNers Christine Straub and Maryann Fox, who helped with weeding and the fall planting. Special thanks to Supervisor Storck and his wife Deb for their help with the planting. Supervisor Storck’s support for this project was key to our success. 

We planted over a dozen tree seedlings and more than 100 native plants. There will be continuing need for maintenance, so you’ve not heard the last on this project. You, too, can join with us on our next maintenance day (I’ll send out a note and put it on the calendar), and record service hours to Stewardship project S256.

Blooming New England Aster with bumble bee in Summer 2018

This past April, I was honored for my work improving our environment with the 2018 Fairfax County Citizen of the Year award, both a humbling and thrilling recognition.

It remains very rewarding to watch the landscape our little team built fill in, bloom, and attract the birds and the bees. Every time I go by, there is a new flower blooming, with bees in attendance.

 

Earth Sangha spring open house & native plant sale

When: Sunday May 5, 9:45 am – 2 pm

What: Earth Sangha is hosting their Spring Open House & Native Plant Sale on Sunday, May 5th from 10AM to 2 PM. They need student volunteers to help customers carry plants and move wheelbarrows, and experienced adult volunteers to tally orders and direct customers. Please email Katherine at kisaacson@earthsangha.org if you’re interested in volunteering.

Where: 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. View the nursery’s location on Google Maps. (The Google pointer is set to Cloud Drive, not directly on our nursery, which has no street address. From Cloud Drive, follow the directions above.)

Contact: Katherine Isaacson (kisaacson@earthsangha.org)

Earth Day: Marie Butler Leven Preserve Workday

When: Saturday, April 20, 10 am-1 pm

What: Join Earth Sangha for an Earth Day planting at the Marie Butler Leven Preserve! We’ll be planting almost 1,000 native grasses and wildflowers in the front meadow. We’ll meet at the parking lot and walk into the park from there.  For MBLP events, sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. We will provide gloves and all necessary tools. Please bring your own water. If you arrive late, call or text Matt on his cell at 703 859 2951.

Where: View the Preserve’s location on Google Maps. The Marie Butler Leven Preserve is in McLean, Virginia. The street address is 1501 Kirby Road. If you’re coming from the Beltway, exit on Route 66 East; from 66, take the first exit, to Leesburg Pike (Route 7); turn left on Leesburg Pike, then almost immediately after the underpass, turn right onto Idylwood Road. Just stay on Idylwood, which becomes Kirby Road after the intersection with Great Falls Street. Stay on Kirby; once you have passed the stop sign at Chesterbrook Road, the Preserve is about half a mile up on the right.

Contact: Matt Bright (mbright@earthsangha.org or 703-859-2951)

Earth Sangha spring Plant Grants, deadline Feb. 28th

The Earth Sangha Plant Grant application period for Spring 2019 is now open. Find the application here: www.earthsangha.org/plant-grant. Please have applications in by February 28 so Earth Sangha can respond to applicants before the planting season begins. In previous Plant Grants, the organization helped out Eagle Scouts working in Fairfax County parks, public and independent schools, and community groups working on public lands. They’re eager to help out again this spring!

The Plant Grant works like a buy-one, get-one program. For every plant purchase made towards an approved project, Earth Sangha donates an additional plant (up to the maximum allocated in your acceptance letter). They can also help with site visits, answer questions about what species might be most appropriate, and highlight your volunteer workdays on their Field Schedule.

Their preference is for projects within Fairfax County, but they are open to proposals in other areas in Northern Virginia. In addition to the completed application (see link above), you will need a letter of support from a staff member from a relevant agency (an email is fine), and a few “before” photos of the site in question.

If you’d like to take advantage of this program, go to their website which fully describes the program and its requirements. Completed applications and questions can be sent to Matt Bright: mbright@earthsangha.org.

Earth Sangha February Workdays

Earth Sangha is extending its seed cleaning sessions to February. If weather co-operates, they’d also like to include some outdoor activity of removing invasive vines in a park. It is possible that they might end up cleaning all the seeds ahead of the schedule mentioned below. Check out the website before showing up!

Monday, January 28th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington: 625 South Carlin Spring Road, Arlington.

Mondays, February 4th and 11th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. Address above.

Sundays, February 3rd, February 10th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Arlington Village: 1400 South Edgewood Street, Arlington. This is the community room of Arlington Village and is located on the lowest point of the street. Please look for the brown street sign that says “1400 South Edgewood Street.” The community Room is through basement door at the corner of the building. If you can’t find it, please call Rodney at 703-216-4855 for directions.

Saturdays February 16th & 23rd, Sunday February 24th, 10 am to 1 pm at Rutherford Park, 4743 Guinea Road, Fairfax: It’s a relatively small area with many interesting native shrubs (Earth Sangha planted them several years ago) but now invasive vines threaten to overtake it. If they remove Porcelainberry and Japanese Honeysuckle now, they would like to plant more native grass and perennials in the Spring. Tools will be provided.

Earth Sangha January seed cleaning sessions

Founded in 1997, the Earth Sangha is a nonprofit public charity based in the Washington, D.C., region. In the D.C. area, they operate a volunteer-based program to propagate local native plants, restore native plant communities, and control invasive alien plants. Their Wild Plant Nursery is the region’s most comprehensive effort to propagate native plants directly from local forests and meadows. Volunteers are needed to clean the seeds from native plants to prepare them for sowing and growing.

Sundays, January 6th, 13th, 20th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Arlington Village: 1400 South Edgewood Street, Arlington. This is the community room of Arlington Village and is located on the lowest point of the street. Please look for the brown street sign that says “1400 South Edgewood Street.” The community Room is through basement door at the corner of the building. If you can’t find it, please call Rodney at 703-216-4855 for directions.
Mondays, January 7th, 14th, 28th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington: 625 South Carlin Spring Road, Arlington.

Earth Sangha offering paid internships for 2019

Earth Sangha is looking to fill five paid, part-time, DC-area internships: 

2 growing-season internships at our nursery
2 summer internships at the Marie Butler Leven Preserve

1 office internship near George Mason University’s main campus

All internships will pay $15 per hour.
For details contact Matt Bright at mbright@earthsangha.org.