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Archives for October 12, 2015

A New Gwinnett County School Teaches Entrepreneurship

The Clyde Strickland Entrepreneurship Center at Gwinnett’s Discovery High School.
Photo: Entrepreneurship Center Twitter Page

In Gwinnett County, students are being exposed to a new way of learning. Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest system in Georgia, is starting to implement an academy learning model in seven of its high schools. Students choose the academy they want to join, and take courses designed around the academy’s focus. At the system’s new Discovery High School, which opened in August, there are four academies: Business and Entrepreneurship, Fine Arts and Communication, Health and Human Services, and STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Of all the academies, the Entrepreneur program is perhaps the most unique.

The Entrepreneurship academy is based in the school’s Clyde Strickland Entrepreneurship Center. Almost a school within a school, the center features a large open area for group instruction, plus several classrooms separated by garage doors which can be opened or closed in order to fit just about any need. Instead of traditional desks and chairs, students work at tables that are designed to be written on. To encourage impromptu brainstorming, most of the walls in the center can serve as whiteboards. In an effort to foster collaboration, several restaurant style booths line one wall, where students can go to talk about their ideas.

The 50 or so ninth graders in the program start their day by going through that morning’s Wall Street Journal, looking for examples of successful business ideas. In class, they learn about what it takes to start and operate a business. In order to become familiar with building a startup, the class is making decals with the new school’s logo. The decals are sold for a dollar at the school bookstore, and the class makes a profit on each sale.

As the school year goes on, each student will be asked to come up with business ideas of their own. The entrepreneurship center has a mock “board room” where students will pitch their business concepts to potential investors–local businessmen and women who might even decide to invest in a student’s business idea. The Entrepreneurship Center provides the tools necessary for a student to prototype his or her product, including a 3D printer, sewing machines, and printers. There’s even a recording studio where students can create commercials promoting their products.

Of course, there’s more to a high school education than learning to become an entrepreneur. Students take a custom language arts class, where reading and discussion material are designed to develop entrepreneurial skills. Other classes are taught online in a cooperative effort with the school system’s Online Campus. Online learning gives students a more flexible schedule, where they can devote the time needed to work on their businesses.

Scott Allen runs the entrepreneurship program. He previously taught at South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, where he and Eric Van Otteren, the city’s Economic Development Manager, created the Snellville Entrepreneurship Alliance, a joint effort between the city, local businesses and area high schools to encourage entrepreneurial education. In 2014, 52 student business licenses were issued in Snellville and Lawrenceville.

A “Shark Tank” competition between students at South, Brookwood, and Central Gwinnett High schools that spring had local business ledaders judging 18 student start ups, with the winner, a landscaping business named “Weed ‘Em and Reap,” walking away with an iPad, software and several hours of accounting, legal and business plan development time donated by local professional firms. Allen hopes to have the same type of competition at Discovery’s Entrepreneurship Center.

All in all, the Entrepreneur Academy and the Strickland Entrepreneurship Center is an outside the box educational model designed to promote student success. Although serving only freshmen in its first year, it will eventually become a four year program.

Discovery is a Title I school, with more than 40% of its students receiving a free or reduced price lunch. In a county where many of its high schools have to provide plenty of student parking, Discovery’s principal John Campbell estimates that only about 25 of his students drive to school; the rest take the bus. While it’s impossible to get an exact measure, the three high schools from which the new Discovery cluster got its students had an average 2014 CCRPI score of 66.0, compared to a systemwide high school average of 73.2, and a statewide high school average of 68.4. Its Entrepreneurship Academy and Center represents a bet by Gwinnett County Schools that a different type of learning model will lead to an improved outcome for these students.

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Inaugural Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair & Market celebrates the Balboa Park …

In honor of the Balboa Park Centennial, the Ranch Santa Fe Garden Club has teamed up with the Balboa Park Conservancy to host the inaugural Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is presented by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties and will be located at the Rancho Santa Fe Association/Community Center parking lot, 17022 Avenida de Acacias.

With its emphasis on horticulture, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park was often referred to as the “Garden Fair.” Similarly, the day-long Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market will mark Balboa Park’s special 100-year anniversary by featuring free landscape consulting, plant and garden gifts, irrigation district rebates, horticulture presentations, food and fun hands-on activities for kids.

The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market is the perfect opportunity to learn about water-wise irrigation systems and sustainable gardening and landscaping ideas and products. A series of 30-minutes lectures in the Community Center will cover such timely topics as rainwater harvesting, backyard aquaponics, and an update on current drought conditions in California.

Special guest presenter Thomas Herrera-Mishler, executive director of the Balboa Park Conservancy, will give a talk on Balboa Park’s sustainable landscaping efforts.

The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Fair Market is also sponsored by Merril Lynch, Proscapes by Rhc, Inc., Crunch Care, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Moon Valley Nurseries, the Reilly Family, and Ranch Coast Magazine.

Participating local businesses and organizations include:

• San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

• Bushman USA — Rainwater harvesting products

• ECOLIFE Conservancy — Aquaponics lecture and demonstration

• EcoTurf — Landscape design and turf

• Fab Trailers — Photo booth

• Farm Fresh to You — Doorstep delivery of locally grown, organic produce

• Floral Design by Ari – Floral design studio

• Friends of RSF Library Guild — Horticulture craft for kids and book sales

• Quail Flower Barn — Garden gifts

• Moon Valley Nursery

• Nature Eye — Hand-made jewelry cast in horticultural mediums

• Proscapes by Rhc, Inc. — Landscape design

• RSF CONE COMMITTEE — Representing RSF Committee on the natural environment

• RSF Fire Department — Education on fire safety through landscaping

• San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum — Horticulture activities for kids

• Santa Fe Irrigation District – Water rebate programs

• Solana Succulents, Emerald M. Growers — Plant sales

• Tacos La Mezcla, Caliano by Spinelli — Food truck concessions

• We Create Fun — Airbrush tattoos

The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club is a nonprofit organization that strives to further the development of charitable horticulture and conservation activities, both within and outside the community of Rancho Santa Fe. For more information on RSF Garden Club membership and upcoming activities, please visit

The Balboa Park Conservancy enriches the visitor experience and keeps Balboa Park magnificent by sustaining and enhancing the Park’s beauty, and its historic, cultural, and recreational character for the enduring enjoyment of all

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Husqvarna unveils ideas for the future

HUSKVARNA, Sweden – What if your trimmer could talk to your smartphone, or smart watch, and help you do landscaping in new ways? Following the positive response to the sensor based fleet management system Husqvarna Fleet Services, Husqvarna presents a concept of a connected battery that can collect and provide real-time data from power tools. Featuring the connected battery technology idea, Husqvarna also unveils a design concept hedge trimmer for the future, with a visor that uses real-time data and augmented reality to support operators. 

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Award-winning maintenance

Award-winning maintenance

An English cottage-style garden on a property in New Canaan maintained by Hoffman Landscapes Inc., a landscaping company with locations in Wilton and Greenwich. For its maintenance of the garden, Hoffman Landscapes was honored with the Grand Award in the property maintenance category by the National Association of Landscape Professionals in its 45th Annual Landscape Awards Competition. Hoffman maintains more than 75 varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ground covers and ornamentals on the property. In addition to the Grand Award, Hoffman won two Merit Awards, one in the design/build category for a challenging property in New Canaan and the other in the property maintenance category for a home in Westport. Hoffman Landscapes specializes in landscape architecture, outdoor construction and property management for lawns, planting beds, gardens, trees and shrubs, and serves Fairfield, Westchester and Litchfield counties.

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Gazebo a great addition at Garden Club

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Some want to swap ad hoc victim tributes for lasting shrines

Click photo to enlarge

MILWAUKEE (AP) — On what would have been his friend’s 18th birthday, a solemn teenager stared at a slumping display of helium balloons and a giant stuffed doll tied to a tree.

The decorations had been up for weeks as a memorial to Breanna Eskridge, who was gunned down outside her grandmother’s Milwaukee home. Jamel Russell came this day to mourn.

Such improvised tributes are part of the landscape in tough neighborhoods across the U.S., symbolizing a complex knot of emotions that community activists and city officials must navigate as they grapple with whether to remove them. To some, they’re eyesores, reminders of gang disputes, drug sales and sadness. To others, they’re an important acknowledgment of loss and mourning.

In Milwaukee, victims’ advocates are leading a push to make these ad hoc memorials into something more lasting. Community organizer Camille Mays has been working with local officials to establish publicly funded individual tributes to replace the makeshift shrines.

“Something that can promote life and growth and peace,” she said.

Collective tributes to victims of gun violence are fairly common. Boston has established a peace garden to memorialize its homicide victims, and Dayton, Ohio, for the past quarter-century has dedicated one day a year to honor the people lost to violence there.

But Rhonda Barner, who has worked as a survivors’ advocate for decades, said she knows of no city that does what Milwaukee is considering by honoring homicide victims with individual memorials. The closest match she has found is in Florida, where road markers recognize certain traffic deaths with an inscription bearing a victim’s name.

Mays’ plan would be particularly visible around Milwaukee’s north side, where unemployment is rampant and residents push back against gangs and drugs.

Support has been widespread, but some, including Selvie Penix, are conflicted.

“It would be all right, I guess,” Penix said, standing in front of a crucifix, stuffed dog and red rose placed on a tree where his sister, Tracey Howard, was killed weeks ago. “It would be sentimental to some people. For me, it would just bring me back to seeing her laying down.”

Alderman Russell Stamper says there is enough support among city leaders to get funding approved for Mays’ cause.

Stamper helped establish a lasting tribute to Russell “Tattoo Russ” Setum, who was killed after celebrating his 24th birthday in 2012 by a shooter who said “sorry, mama,” as he pulled the trigger while she pleaded for her son’s life.

Friends tied the typical decorations to a tree outside the Setum family home where he was killed, but his mother, Leona Setum, took it all down. Today, a modest bouquet of plastic roses, hidden inside landscaping, marks the spot at the base of the tree.

A few blocks away sits a garden with a hand-painted sign reading “Uptown Community Gardens of Peace, featuring Russell Setum’s cherry tree.”

Stamper says the city has tens of thousands of dollars set aside each year for lot enhancements and community gardens. For him, it’s an easy step to transition teddy bear shrines into these sorts of tributes.

Mays likes this concept but would be satisfied with something less elaborate: a small plant, plaque or sign, simply marking the location, even if it doesn’t include the name of the person killed.

Police Capt. Jason Smith, who runs a north side district singled out for excellence in “problem-oriented policing,” said when it comes to temporary tributes, he “used to be a jerk and take them down.” He now sees them as a worthwhile part of mourning and an opportunity for developing relationships that improve police work.

The sites are flashpoints for anger, which can lead to retaliation killings, so Smith has instructed his officers to call a group of pastors after shootings where memorials spring up. At the top of that list is a man who helped train him, Malcom Hunt, who went into ministry after retiring from the force.

Hunt says the memorials are places where he can reach out to people to keep their minds on healing and off revenge.


He gave his card, recently, to the 17-year-old who was thinking of Breanna Eskridge.

Her balloons were beginning to sag. The oversized SpongeBob doll was weathered and fading, as were the hand-written messages — including “R.I.P.,” ”I love you,” and “love always” — scrawled across it.

It wasn’t his first encounter with loss. Russell had the image of another tribute saved in his cellphone, this one affixed to a lamp post a few blocks away for his younger brother, Japhet Moore, who was 14 when he was killed two years ago.

Russell said he visits the displays all the time. If they were permanent, he said, “that would be a good thing.”

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Making and using compost

Posted: Sunday, October 11, 2015 12:30 am

Making and using compost

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media

Fall is the ideal time to create a compost pile, but keep in mind that the compost you start now may not be ready to use until next summer. Here is how you can get started this week, or next, because right now is when nature provides all the raw materials you will need.

Your compost pile can be fenced in or contained by some sort of structure or just allowed to sit free standing. If you are in an urban area, you will want to have it in a closed bin because some neighbors may not appreciate having a large pile of decomposing vegetation sitting out in the open next door. Garden centers also sell all sorts of plastic compost containers or bins.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015 12:30 am.

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Tips on right time to harvest garden melons – Las Cruces Sun

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Get your garden growing with these top tips

YES, spring is here, with warmer weather, some very welcome rain, and very few of us would complain about that.

It is, of course, a great time to be growing almost anything we would like in the back or front yard, and every year there are plenty of new varieties raising their heads to be selected.

If you’ve not started your vegetable garden yet, and would like to know more about how to start, what fertilisers, soil, or varieties to grow and where, the two easiest books to follow and be a success are both from Yates, with the first being Yates Garden Guide, which has been the most useful item we’ve used for over 60 years, and my nurserymen parents had copies dating back to the 1920s.

The second is much more recent, and is an excellent follow-up, but can certainly stand alone as a totally comprehensive book on how, when and where to grow your vegetables, as well as recipes for every type of vegie you grow, and its title is ‘Garden Fresh Cookbook’.

So while it’s not too hot to be eating a hot potato dish, you simply have to try the delicious ‘Oven-baked herby potatoes’ on page 148.

This book is also excellent to keep by your side for information on herb growing and using, types of soil, fertilising, watering and insect and disease control. So look for it now.

Looking good

Among the hosts of plants making an impact at present are some great groundcover plants to suit a variety of situations.

Think of such colourful specimens as the Calibrachoas (hybrid petunias) that have made enormous inroads into the gardening scene in recent years.

Nodding Violets are lovely additions inside or out.

These self-cleaning plants are ideal for many situations such as groundcovers, hanging baskets and other containers.

They grow exceptionally well in our part of the world, producing their small, petunia-like flowers from early spring until early winter (longer if the winter is mild), with some ground hugging to a mere 10cm tall, while others mound up to about 20-25cm or so high.

Their colours range from white, through yellows, pinks, red, magenta, blue and violet, with both single and double forms.

Their soil needs to be moist, well-drained and organically enriched, which should be kept reasonably moist, but don’t over water, and pinch back regularly to ensure a compact plant.

Keeping control

As most folk are aware, there are many pests that delight in our gardens, and they’re certainly no respecter of our hard work.

So to help you keep them away from your plants, here are a couple you are bound to find handy.

To control leaf-eating caterpillars on vegetables, herbs or ornamentals, use Yates ‘Success’, which contains spinetoram, that is derived from beneficial soil bacteria. ‘Success’ is also effective against many leaf-eating pests, controls codling moth, and provides excellent protection for the foliage from both rain and sunlight.

How about the C. Superbells, Coralberry?

Another good product is the Pyrethrum Insect Pest Concentrate that is based on low-toxic, natural pyrethrum daisy extract, killing sucking and leaf-eating insects such as aphids, caterpillars, thrips and whitefly, and also controls ants, cockroaches and flies outdoors.

Hanging plant

A good old-fashioned and popular perennial plant that’s looking bright now is the Nodding Violet – Streptocarpus caulescens – that has deep green small and fleshy leaves, with hosts of very showy blue-mauve flowers that nod in the breeze.

These make excellent indoor plants in pots or baskets in a brightly lit position, or outdoors where they only receive morning sun until about lunchtime.

They’re evergreen, looking neat all year round, and lovely and bright when flowering which is most of the year, grow well on verandahs and sheltered patios, and make a pretty show in pots or rock gardens beneath overhanging trees in shady areas, where they grow to about 30cm tall and will spread well.

Use good quality potting mix in containers, or humus-enriched soil in the garden.

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Garden Tips: Awesome science behind fall leaf color

Fall is my favorite season of the year. Last week when I was in Spokane, I experienced exquisite tree and shrub fall color. This change of color from green to intense yellows, oranges, burgundy and bright red has always been amazing to me. I can remember as a young girl collecting leaves each fall and my mother helping me iron them between two sheets of waxed paper.

Of course, there is science behind this awesome transition. The green color in leaves is because of the pigment chlorophyll. Also produced in the leaves are yellow (xanthophyl) and orange (carotene) pigments that are usually masked by the green chlorophyll. In fall, as the days shorten and the weather cools, chlorophyll production slows, and the chlorophyll starts to break down, revealing the yellow and orange pigments.

What about red? Anthocyanins are the red to purple pigments in plant tissues. They are sometimes present during the growing season in plants with reddish to purple leaves, like red barberry or Crimson King maple. However, the red and purple pigments that show up in autumn are the result of anthocyanin production that starts as chlorophyll production slows and sugars in the leaf increase. Leaf sugar content and anthocyanin production is greater when sunny days and cool nights prevail, providing a more spectacular display of intense fall colors.

Why do some trees like gingko and birch only have yellow and gold fall colors and others like red maple and scarlet oak have orange and red fall colors? While the amount and intensity is related to growing conditions and weather, the type of colors a tree produces depends on its genetic makeup.

What about trees that turn brown or copper in the fall? As just noted, some trees are not genetically programmed for fall color. Many types of oaks do not have a colorful fall display. This is because their leaves contain plant compounds called tannins. They are present all season, but are also masked by chlorophyll. When the chlorophyll disappears, the brown tannins become visible.

Each fall, I long for the beautiful autumn color display put on by the sugar maple forests of the Northeast. Thankfully, that yearning has been assuaged as more homeowners and municipalities have planted tree species that provide marvelous color.

Sugar maples do not thrive in our climate, but red maples well and provide nice fall color. Two of my favorites are the red maples, especially Autumn Blaze with orange-red fall color, and October Glory, with orange to red color. You also cannot beat the bright golden yellow of gingko trees like Autumn Gold, another one of my favorites. Add to that list Tiger Eyes sumac, American sweetgum, flowering dogwood, scarlet oak and red oak.

If you want to plant a tree with great fall color, visit your favorite local nursery to pick a tree with the fall color that you like the best.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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