The dead of winter is the perfect time to begin planning our spring gardens so, today at Transition on Tap we got together to talk about our yards, which is important, because, if you think about it, our yards make up a huge portion of Earth in our neighborhoods. What we do with them, what and how we plant and how we tend them have enormous impacts on our health, the environment and wildlife.
Traditional lawns are environmentally catastrophic. They destroy habitat for wildlife, leech toxic chemicals into our ground waters and our treasured Mississippi River and worse. They are also high-maintenance and generally use fossil fuels in the forms of lawn mowers and leaf-blowers to keep up.
Most of us who attended had ditched the old-school lawn care years ago, working to grow more diverse and sustainable stuff instead. As the conversation unfolded, the themes that emerged revolved around the following topics:
* Creating more pollinator and wildlife friendly spaces
* Replacing lawns with vegetable gardens
* Planting and growing fruit trees and nuts
Ian Young shared some great information about the Lawns to Legumes program, which seeks to expand pollinator-friendly spaces, with particular interest in creating habitat for the endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, which is classified as endangered because its population has declined by nearly 90% in fairly recent years. Ian provided information related to individual grant opportunities and a pending possible demonstration neighborhood grant through state funding. Grants up to $350 may be available to individuals to promote the planting of native pollinator species in their yard space.
Other attendees offered the resources such as the pollinatorfriendlyyards group on Facebook and NAFEX (North American Fruit Exchange - a great resource for folks seeking advice on growing fruit crops).
It was fun to meet with people working to transition Longfellow's yards into more sustainable spaces. The ideas shared were fun, innovative and will certainly help us all take our yards to new and interesting places this spring! Keep your eyes on the Transition Longfellow website for information about upcoming Transition on Tap events!