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Gardening for Earth Renewal

Article by Plant NOVA Natives staff

How does your garden renew the earth? Vegetable gardens, flower gardens, conventional landscaping and even container gardens can all contribute to a connected landscape that supports our local birds and butterflies. By restoring native plants and avoiding chemicals, together we can heal the damaged landscape we have created with our buildings, sterile lawn, and green-but ecologically-useless plants from other continents.

The wildlife of the East Coast evolved in concert with the complex mixture of trees and understory plants that covered most of the land in the past, plus smaller areas of meadows and wetlands. Turtles, birds, frogs and fireflies all suffer when those hundreds of species of plants are replaced by a monoculture of lawn and a few specimen shrubs. And biodiversity all but disappears when those few plants consist of species that were introduced from elsewhere, as is the case with turf grass (which is from Europe), Japanese Barberry, English Ivy, and many other commonly sold plants, some of which have become invasive and taken over our remaining natural areas.

The antidote is clear: plant more plants, and make sure they are native species! The first step is to look at any nearby natural area and figure out how your property might expand its habitat value and reduce the fragmentation that interferes with the movement of animals. Are you near woods? How about adding more trees and shade-loving shrubs and ground cover? After all, they say that shade gardens are the gardens of the future, because it will be too hot to want to spend much time in the sun! Or perhaps your yard receives your neighbor’s runoff which can be turned into an asset by deep-rooted plants that soak up the excess water and recreate a butterfly-filled meadow. Or perhaps you are lucky enough to have a lawn in full sun that could be used for a raised vegetable bed. Those vegetables are unlikely to be native plants, but the bed will absorb runoff much better than lawn, and you can improve your crop yields by adding a nearby sunny flower garden that draws in the pollinators.

It doesn’t matter whether you want to change or to keep the general appearance of your property – if you prefer, you can achieve the same general look by simply substituting native plants for introduced ones. What we should change is our understanding of how our land functions. You need not settle for a yard that is an empty hole in the map that excludes its natural residents. Rather, your home can become part of what Doug Tallamy, in his newly-released Nature’s Best Hope, is calling our future “Homegrown National Park.” If enough of us make some relatively easy changes to our yard practices, we can knit together our properties into a thriving environment where people and nature live in harmony. Now, in this time of trouble, we can renew the Earth. Find out how at www.plantnovanatives.org/gardening-for-earth-renewal.

Let’s Get Growing Symposium, March 21st

Leesburg Community Church
835 Lee Avenue, SW, Leesburg VA 20176
Saturday, 21 March 2020
9 am – 4 pm

Join the Loudoun County Master Gardeners at their 11th Annual Gardening Symposium featuring noted speakers, knowledgeable practitioners, plant sellers and vendors of garden related items The Symposium is a great way to get motivated and jump into the spring gardening season with new information and refreshed enthusiasm.

More information and registration here.

South Run Rec Center “Erosion Knoll” needs gardening TLC volunteers

South Run Recreation Center
7550 Reservation Drive, Springfield VA
1st and 3rd Wednesdays from 9-11 am
2nd Saturdays from 9-12 for May-October and 12-3 pm from November – April

Enthusiastic and energetic volunteer gardener at South Run is seeking like-minded individuals to provide input on erosion control native plantings for a fairly small incline. Ideally, these volunteers would supervise the planting and maintenance of this area once the plants are obtained. South Run has dedicated landscape volunteer days monthly as shown above but knowledgeable supervision is much needed.

Interested? Contact Sally Berman via Joseph.Lauer@fairfaxcounty.gov.  Planning volunteers may meet with Sally outside of scheduled volunteer times.

Those who just want to volunteer occasionally can go to https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/180570

Those that want to volunteer regularly go to:
https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov/custom/1380/#/opp_details/179743

Volunteer at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court
Vienna, VA 22182
Any morning Monday through Thursday

Calling all gardeners! Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, a NOVA Park, needs volunteers to supports its 95 acres of ornamental display gardens and native plant collections for the enjoyment and education of our community.

To volunteer any morning Monday through Thursday in any of the ornamental display gardens:
-Email Tammy Burke at tburke@nvrpa.org

To volunteer Tuesday or Wednesday with native plants (Potomac Valley and Native Wetlands Collections) : Email Keith Tomlinson at ktomlinson@nvrpa.org 

Edible Landscaping Plants with Fairfax Food Council, Sep. 10th

Daniels Run Peace Church
3729 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax VA
Tuesday, 10 September 2019
6:30- 8 pm

Are you trying to figure out how to grow food without upsetting your HOA or subtracting from the beauty of your existing landscaping? Do you want a garden that delights all five of your senses? Permaculture farmer, Cory Suter, will lead a tour of Daniels Run’s edible landscaping and then discuss selecting edible perennials for challenging conditions such as shade, clay soil, and hungry deer. He will introduce dozens of successful edible landscaping plants for Fairfax County, including beautiful evergreens, and deciduous plants with multi-season interest that produce food.
Hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Registration is required. Learn more and register here.

Fairfax Food Council Presents: Gardening with Deer, Squirrels, and Other Hungry Creatures, June 18th

Daniels Run Peace Church
3729 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax, VA 22030
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
7 – 8:30pm

Are you feeding wildlife instead of the people your garden produce was intended to nourish? You’re invited to hear Adria Bordas give a presentation on preventing deer, squirrels and other creatures from overwhelming your garden. The last half of this workshop will be a roundtable discussion of local gardeners sharing tips and techniques for making your garden a less easy target for birds and four-footed filchers. Click here to register by June 14th.

Summer is for visiting native plant gardens

Margaret Fisher

Are you feeling inspired by the plants in the Native Plants for Northern Virginia guide but want to see them in a garden setting before choosing ones for your yard? Northern Virginia has numerous native plant gardens that are open to the public and which can be located using the new map on the Plant NOVA Natives website. They range from public gardens and demonstration gardens maintained by professionals or by Master Gardeners, to landscaping projects at places of business or places of worship, and from formal grounds to a cottage garden look. The summer vacation season is a great time to see the panoply of gardening choices that can include native plants.

If you are travelling up or down the East Coast this summer, public gardens are a great place to stop. Many of the species of plants that are native to Northern Virginia can also be found north or south of here. More and more public gardens are incorporating sections of natives into their designs, and several gardens use native plants exclusively.

Do you know of any native plant gardens or landscaping projects that are missing from our map? Please email the name with a description – and photos if you have them – to plantnovanatives@gmail.com.

There is one location that you might never guess: the Dale City rest stop on northbound I95 has a huge native meadow that was planted and maintained by volunteers. There is also a smaller monarch waystation at the southbound rest stop. Check out our one-and-a-half minute video about the critters that take advantage of those oases.

 

Permaculture Design Certification Course

72-Hour Permaculture Design Certification Course with Wayne Weiseman
August 31-September 8, 2019 at
Heartwood Farm in Louisa, VA.

About this event

A Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course offers a comprehensive introduction to Permaculture principles, applications & design practices and meets the international standard as the 72+ hour foundational course for Permaculture practitioners and teachers.

You will have many opportunities to put theory into practice by doing hands-on, creative activities at Heartwood Farm, where Permaculture principles are actively practiced and promoted. We will do an in-depth site analysis, and students will create designs of different areas on the farm. Special guests will share their expertise as well.

While learning about our habitat and our own relationship with the environment, we will look at how humans have been relating to Earth throughout history and into today’s modern urban times. The three main historical viewpoints we will study are:

Hunter/Gatherer

Training in hunter-gatherer living and nature skills sharpens our ability to see life as it is. We develop hand and eye coordination, and become one with an environment where we must observe and create what we need in an immediate and balanced way.

Agricultural Settlement

Exposure to various methods of sustainable agriculture, i.e. Permaculture, Biodynamic Agriculture, Bio-intensive gardening, the eco-agriculture movement, organic systems, the natural way of farming of Masanobu Fukuoka and indigenous systems of agriculture. You also learn about renewable energy systems (wind, water, solar), ecological building practices (straw bale, cob, cordwood, etc.) and everything from tool making to animal husbandry.

Urban/Suburban

Studying the urban and suburban landscape and learning ways to live sustainably in the midst of concrete and close-quarters. Discover how permaculture design can help those living in urban and suburban areas meet their needs for nutrition, energy and community while maintaining meaningful work and upholding sustainable policies in towns and cities.

Where is this?

This 8-day intensive course will be held at Heartwood Farm in Louisa, VA. Class will take place from 8:00 am to about 6:00 pm each day, with breaks for lunch, and two additional evening activities with served dinner. A light breakfast fare and lunch will be provided each day.

Heartwood is a sustainable diversified farm in Central Virginia using permaculture principles to raise pastured pork, ducks, chickens, rabbits, eggs, vegetables and herbs. It’s roughly 15 minutes to Gordonsville and 30 minutes to downtown Charlottesville, where restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, airbnbs, etc. are abundant. Camping will be available on the farm, however students must bring all of their own camping equipment.

Why take this class?

Because this course is a game changer. It brings into focus practical principles and ethics that many of us have forgotten or dismissed. It is like picking up a master key that unlocks many doors leading to abundance and health. Students have repeatedly stated they have found that by regenerating the earth and improving their relationship with it they have regenerated themselves in the process. You want this master key!

Topics covered

  • Permaculture ethics & principles
  • Concepts, themes, method of design
  • Climate & microclimates
  • Plants, gardening & farming systems
  • Primitive skills & foraging
  • Landform & water movement
  • Alternative energy & natural building
  • Seed saving, plant propagation, grafting
  • Soil fertility & soil management
  • Native medicinal plants identification, uses & preparation
  • …and many more!

Early bird tuition (until 5/31/19): $900. Regular tuition: $1,100. Standard processing fees apply. Includes breakfast and lunch each day, plus two dinners. Camping available on the farm, other sleeping accommodations (hotels, airbnbs, etc.) are the responsibility of the student. Students will receive the Permaculture Design Certificate on the final day of the course.

*Limited 1-Day Workshops Available for two of the course days. Workshop attendees will not receive a PDC certificate*

(9/4/19): Soil Fertility & Mushroom Cultivation – Full day workshop (8am-5pm). We’ll cover basic soil biology, organic methods to build soil fertility and how to build an at-home composting system. Also learn how to grow your own edible/medicinal mushrooms at home with fresh log inoculation techniques! Includes a chainsaw use & safety demonstration.Fee: $120.

(9/7/19): Fermentation; Herbal Medicine; Live Animal Process, Cooking Demonstration & Dinner – Half Day Workshop (1pm-8pm). Hands-on introduction to lacto-fermentation and folk herbal medicine traditions. Livestock process and cooking demonstration will be done by farm owner, Zac Culbertson. Learn the basics of how to process poultry, raised on Heartwood Farm. Includes a delicious cooking demonstration and a wonderful group dinner! Fee: $75.

About the Instructor

Wayne Weiseman is a permaculture teacher, designer, consultant and author. He was certified to teach permaculture by Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture, in 1999. Wayne has taught hundreds of Permaculture Design Courses around the world. He has served as a consultant and lecturer to educators, school administrators, business leaders, and others internationally. For 15 years Wayne managed a land-based, self-reliant community project combining organic crop/food production, ecologically-built shelter, renewable energy and appropriate technologies.

Wayne is a co-author of an authoritative book on integrated forest gardening and plant guilds that was published in August, 2014.

For more information on the instructor, Wayne Weiseman, go to: http://www.permacultureproject.com/

Questions? Please email permacultureproject@gmail.com

All Ticket Sales Are Final and Non-Refundable

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)

How to start a school garden

Quander Road School, 6400 Quander Road, Alexandria, VA 22307
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
7:00 pm-8:30 pm

Are you thinking about starting a school garden?  Would you like to tour a school grounds  with a fenced vegetable garden, courtyard herb garden, pollinator gardens, and a native meadow?

Please come join the fun with other gardeners, teachers, and prospective gardeners as we learn practical tips and steps to start a school garden from Brooke-Marie LaPorta, the Garden Coordinator and Science Department Chair at Quander Road School. Other teachers and experienced gardeners will be available to answer your questions for the last half an hour of this event.

Learn more.