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Archives for October 3, 2016

Starting community garden workshop Tuesday, Oct. 11

The Fauquier County Master Gardeners will present a program, “Starting a Community Garden,” on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Warrenton.

Starting at 6 p.m. in the Virginia Cooperative Extension office at 24 Pelham St. in Warrenton, the program is designed for anyone interested in starting a shared garden in their neighborhood, community, church or with family or friends.

Remington resident and Master Gardener John Waldeck will lead the presentation. Mr. Waldeck has a special interest in raised-bed gardening.

In 2015, he co-founded the Remington Community Garden on 1.5 acres between the United Methodist Church and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the center of town.

His presentation will focus on “Eight Steps to Creating a Successful Community Garden.”

• Finding Common Ground – Start with identifying interest in your community, your neighborhood, at your church or other organization, or amongst your friends and family.

• Select a Garden Committee – It’s important to bring together key stakeholders to set goals and wish lists for your community garden.

• Establishing Partnerships – Look for possible local businesses and groups that might partner with you to provide support whether it is materials, experience or funding.

• Site Selection – Look for a suitable gardening area; ideally it would be a level spot with adequate space, and it would have good soil and access to sunshine and water.

• Start-Up Funding – Do your research into grants and other sources of potential funding to help you purchase the materials you will need to get your garden going.

• Garden Design – Now it’s time to create a vision for your community garden. What type/size garden plots do you want to offer, what other facilities such as performance spaces do you want to include, for example.

• Setting Garden Guidelines – An important step is to establish rules for the garden, such as costs, hours, use of shared materials, planting restrictions and behavior and interactions between participants.

• Getting Started – Mr. Waldeck will share what worked in Remington for site preparations, garden infrastructure, planting and maintenance.

The Remington Community Garden is a partnership between the two churches. The UMC provides the land and the Episcopal Church provides the water.

In just one year, the Remington Community Garden has become a gathering place, with 35 large garden plots, an outdoor area for performances and events and space for children to play. In the garden, families, experienced and beginning gardeners alike, and community groups are gardening side by side, sharing ideas and getting to know one another.

Space is limited; early registration is recommenced.

To register or for more information, contact the Fauquier County Master Gardener Help Desk at 540-341-7950, Ext. 1, or

The “Starting a Community Garden” presentation will to a close the 2016 Fauquier Master Gardeners’ Twilight Tuesdays program, a series of horticultural classes held from spring to fall each year. The 2017 Twilight Tuesday programs will begin in the spring.

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Baptist Health Lexington Cancer Center garden, designed by Jon Carloftis, is dedicated to his mom, Lucille Bowling …

In a Sept. 15 ceremony, Baptist Health Lexington dedicated a garden on the lower level of its new Cancer Center to Lucille Bowling Carloftis, a Rockcastle County cancer survivor treated at Baptist Health Lexington 22 years ago.

The honoree is the mother of award-winning garden designer Jon Carloftis, who donated the design of the garden to the hospital. Lucille Bowling Carloftis and about 80 family members and friends attended the dedication ceremony, which coincided with a public open house for the new Cancer Center.

In designing the garden, Jon Carloftis deviated from his customary “neat and clipped” look, instead opting for a wild, woodland appearance reminiscent of his mother’s Clay County roots and her strong, independent spirit.

Designed for respite and relief, the garden can be appreciated from inside, or patients and family members can step outside to rest on surrounding benches and enjoy the scenery as well as the peaceful gurgle from three stone fountains.

A plaque in the garden mentions Lucille Bowling Carloftis’ “willful spirit” and expresses hope that “others find comfort, healing and serenity” in her name.

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How I Created My Very First Garden From Scratch

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A year-round garden in Bexley

Stroll by Jim Elliot and John Behal’s Bexley home any day of the year, and there’s always something in the garden that stands out. On frosty February days, hellebores hang like pink and chartreuse lampshades beneath large fan-shaped leaves. In March and April, cheery yellow daffodils and purple creeping phlox bring color to their home’s visible corner lot. The show continues through the summer months with daylilies, roses and lavender. During autumn, red and golden Japanese maples enhance the view and during winter months, evergreen conifers and fruit-filled hollies punctuate the landscape.

Such a non-stop, year-round color palette may be elusive for many Central Ohio gardeners, but not Elliott, this garden’s primary planner and caretaker. (He shares hardscaping projects with his architect partner, Behal.) Elliott says he has gardened since his childhood and can fully indulge his passion now that he’s retired from a career in textbook publishing.

“I think of the garden as a painting, and you fill in different colors,” says Elliott, a fine arts and botany major in college. He started gardening with his grandmother at her large garden in Alton, just west of Columbus. “As payment, she gave me plants,” he says.

At his childhood home in West Jefferson, Elliott says he would go into the woods and bring wildflowers home to plant. This gardening passion flourished through his adult life. In German Village, he tended a shady garden at a house he shared with Behal.

When the two bought this Bexley home 16 years ago, Elliott was delighted to gain some sunny locations for all the plants he says he “coveted” but couldn’t grow in his shady German Village garden. The stone home they purchased in Bexley, built in 1912, offered plenty of charming curb appeal and great views of the outdoors from the living room, dining room and sunroom.

The couple’s first project was a stone retaining wall along the front of the house. “It was one of those slopes where grass wouldn’t grow, and the space got all weedy,” says Elliott.

The two studied stone walls while vacationing in Connecticut. There, they photographed several ideas and eventually decided on a wall using fieldstone with plenty of lichens and discoloration to complement the character of the home’s aged stone exterior. Once the retaining wall was finished, Elliott filled the terraced area behind it with a mix of perennial plants. In the space’s early years, he added annuals until the perennials filled the space. Now, he makes room for annuals to bring ongoing color to the landscape, in addition to adding a perennial border in front of the stone wall.

Over the years, the traveling couple found plenty of gardening inspiration while touring English gardens such as Sissinghurst Castle Garden. The celebrated landscaping there is known for its hedged garden rooms filled with cottage style plantings. From these English garden tours, Elliott borrowed several ideas, such as intermixing plants and repeating plant colors like chartreuse Lady’s Mantle for design impact.

“I repeat anchor plants, so the beds don’t look so chaotic,” Elliott says. Still, he encourages some disorder like the dainty corydalis plants that voluntarily pop up throughout the flower beds each spring.Elliott turns to gardening books for more ideas. Two of his favorites are “The Natural Shade Garden” by Ken Druse and “Colour in the Garden” by Penelope Hobhouse.

In the backyard, the couple added a bluestone patio and expanded the back porch into the shade of an old crabapple tree. Behal added his expertise with a custom-designed fence featuring an arched gate and corbels. He also dressed up the back porch with a trio of columns and two trellis panels. Along the property line, they enhanced a row of junipers with viburnums, holly and a red beech to create a lush privacy screen. Elliott filled the patio’s surrounding beds with shade-loving perennials including brunnera, corydalis, lungwort, hostas, ferns, wild ginger and hellebores.

“I like when a garden has elements you don’t see at first glance,” says Elliott as he points out the diminutive white bell-shaped blooms secretly suspended beneath the fronds of Solomon’s Seal.

To the west of the porch, a mature magnolia tree provides shade to a bed framed with boxwoods and filled with oakleaf hydrangeas and English ivy. Virginia creeper vines climb the side of the garage, softening the wall alongside the patio. Near the driveway, flowering forsythia and quince shrubs shine in spring with gold and salmon blooms. A bubbling stone fountain completes the backyard space with its soothing sounds. It also provides a gathering spot for the area’s songbirds.

Over the years, Elliott says the property’s clay soil has been a challenge, but he’s amended it with leaf mulch from fall cleanups and bags of mushroom compost applied in the spring. However, when it comes to mulch, he is not a fan. “I don’t believe in mulch,” he says. “If you space plants close enough, you don’t need mulch. Others spend on mulch what I spend on plants.”

Besides his perennial garden, Elliott also tends a vegetable plot at a community garden he shares with a friend at the Franklin Park Conservatory, where they grow tomatoes, lettuce, kale, herbs, beans, carrots and beets.

Whether at his home or the community garden, this incessant gardener confesses the work is intensive during the growing season. But soon enough, he’ll be tucked away in his warm sunroom admiring the snow on the conifers or watching birds steal berries from the holly.

A Four-Season Garden

If you’re looking for a plan to create a four-season garden, Jim Elliott suggests the following plants:


 Shade perennials: corydalis, brunnera, lungwort, wild ginger and foam flower

 Sun perennials: lady’s mantle, penstemon, spiderwort and evening primrose

 Bulbs: daffodils

 Flowering trees and shrubs: magnolia, serviceberry, viburnum, forsythia, quince, rhododendron and mahonia (Oregon grape)


 Perennials: day lilies, bear’s breeches, artemisia, honeysuckle vine, clematis, salvia, phlox, hardy geranium, lavender, catmint, bee balm and roses

 Annuals: begonias, zinnias, lantana, ageratum and alyssum

 Flowering shrubs: hydrangea

 Foliage favorites: hostas and ferns


 Shade perennials: barrenwort and ferns

 Sun perennials: Japanese anemone and sedum

 Colorful trees and shrubs: Japanese maples, barberry and oakleaf hydrangea


 Evergreens: pine trees, holly, boxwood, junipers and taxus

 Fruiting shrubs: winterberry and cotoneaster

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RIDOT’s scaled-back street plan for Fox Point prompts neighborhood reaction

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – “Honk if you Hate this RIDOT Curve.”

John Rousseau held up the sign to passing drivers recently at the intersection of Gano and India streets by the Washington Bridge. The Fox Point Neighborhood Association executive secretary, also the Save Gano Gateway committee chairman, was joined by four other association members.

Rousseau said about 40 percent of the drivers obliged, “Not bad when you consider half were on their phones, [and] the rest were either enjoying the public privacy of their automobiles or confused because they didn’t know what we were referencing.”

The association, which Rousseau said has 350 active members, wants the state Department of Transportation to fix the intersection to the specifications of the department’s 2011 plans. The design had an estimated $2.9 million price tag to complete.

Rousseau said some of the project’s money was spent on the growing cost of RIDOT’s now $17 million pedestrian bridge project. The state “refined” the intersection changes recently, and plans to spend $1 million instead of $2.9 million. The association asked state officials last week to find the money to complete the initial design, and also suggested “slightly” reducing other bridge projects to do so.

Cars may be honking for a while.

City officials, the state Commerce Corporation and the 195 Commission “all agreed that the pedestrian bridge’s value to future economic development on the 195 land presents the best opportunity for the available budget,” said David Ortiz, Governor Raimondo’s press secretary. The bridge would span the Providence River near the Point Street Bridge. 

He added reallocating financial resources from the Gano project to the bridge project was necessary to allow the bridge “to move forward while still: resurfacing [Gano]; maintaining the traffic calming effect of the current alignment; connecting four parks and two bike paths; all while improving the aesthetics at the park entrance.”

Ortiz said the governor’s staff “made it clear” to the association that the DOT doesn’t have “additional budget capacity,” but were open to ideas to identify additional money.

A picture of the refined plan shows the turn – Ortiz called it a “traffic calming effect” while the Rousseau called it a “safety hazard” – remaining as well as a new paved bike path down Gano Street, gravel landscaping under the Washington Bridge and some shared-lane markings and landscaping.

The initial design nixed the 90-degree turn, said the association in its latest news release, and installed “additional India Point Park parking lots under the Washington Bridge, complete with lighting and landscaping.” 

Added Rousseau, “If we could find the money, we don’t mind waiting a little longer, but to be totally defunded is unacceptable and we will continue to fight. Because it was what was supposed to happen. The main thing we want is the bottleneck removed.”

A statement from Mayor Jorge O. Elorza said both projects were important to the city. He noted the bridge could “catalyze economic growth in the 195 district,” and said the city is working with the state to ensure the Gano Street project “has a positive impact on the neighborhood.”

Emily Crowell, Elorza’s spokeswoman, further said the city is actively looking financially and otherwise to “better support” the Gano project.

Monday afternoon, Charles St. Martin, acting Chief Public Affairs Officer for DOT, said if someone provides additional money, “We would go back to the original design plan.”

(401) 277-7465

On Twitter:@AlishaPina

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50 Green Business Ideas for Startup Entrepreneurs

If you’re an environmentalist and an entrepreneur, there are plenty of ways you can combine those two passions into a successful environmentally conscious business. There are even some green business opportunities out there that can allow you to offer eco-friendly products and services to your customers. Here are 50 green business ideas for environmentally conscious entrepreneurs.

Green Business Ideas

Green Building Materials

There are plenty of homeowners out there looking for ways to make their homes more sustainable. So you can build a business supplying them with green building materials like solar powered shingles and efficient insulation.


With all the different recyclable materials out there, including paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum, there are plenty of opportunities for you to collect those materials from consumers and recycle them into usable materials.

Trash Collection

You can also help consumers by offering a service that picks up large trash items and disposes of them properly.

Farmer’s Market Vendor

Selling local produce and food materials is inherently eco-friendly, since it eliminates the need to transport food items for long distances after the production process. So if you grow or make food, you can sell it at local farmer’s markets to fill that need.

Organic Food Stand

You might also consider selling more finished food products by starting a food stand that sells organic snacks or meals to passers-by.

Organic Caterer

If you want to build a more full-scale food operation, you can also start a catering business that specializes in organic and sustainable food options.

Green Blogger

For entrepreneurs that are more focused on writing, you can start a blog about environmental topics and then make money through advertising or selling green products of some kind.

Specialty Landscape Designer

If you want to work outside and have some knowledge about sustainable landscape design, you can offer your services to customers who want a really efficient landscaping setup for their homes that doesn’t use a lot of water or other resources.

Eco-Friendly Fashion

Fashion designers or retailers, you can start a clothing line or retail store that uses sustainable or recycled materials in clothing items.

Shipping Crate Offices

For many different types of businesses, you can go green by carefully considering the actual office space that you use. You might even start a green business inside a recycled office, like inside an old shipping container.

Recycling Inventions

The possibilities are endless when it comes to inventions that can potentially help the earth. You can even create something relatively low tech that can help people recycle or do other eco-friendly activities.

Eco-Friendly Beauty Salon

Beauty products are notoriously filled with chemicals and other harmful materials. But you can start a beauty salon that uses more natural products to target environmentally conscious consumers.

Upcycling Furniture

Furniture is a product that uses a lot of materials. But you can reduce that impact as a furniture seller by utilizing older pieces and recycling other materials in the production process.

Recycled Fashion

Likewise, you can utilize older clothing and materials to make re-styled items and then sell those items in a handmade shop or local boutiques.

Green App Developer

Mobile applications can be incredibly helpful for a variety of functions. So you can also develop mobile apps designed to help people with environmentally friendly functions, like finding recycling centers or learning about the environmental practices of different brands.

Sustainable Event Planner

Events offer another opportunity for you to make an environmental impact. You can offer event planning services to environmental organizations or other groups, but ad an eco-friendly twist on things like food and decorations.

Green House Cleaner

Cleaning supplies aren’t known as being especially eco-friendly. But you can substitute some more natural materials and methods and build a strong niche as a green house cleaner.

Air Duct Cleaner

Air ducts can also have a big impact on the air quality and other environmental factors. So offering a service cleaning air ducts in people’s homes or other buildings can be another green business idea.

Bicycle Repair

Traveling by bicycle is inherently more eco-friendly than driving. So you can encourage bicycle travel in your community by offering bicycle repair services.

Green Business Consultant

You can also help other businesses go green by consulting with them to help them build more sustainable business practices.

Eco-Friendly Soap Maker

Or you can build a handmade business by making soap with natural materials and ingredients.


It’s not the cleanest of businesses, but if you have the space and resources, you can start a composting operation on your property and then sell the service to local gardeners or customers that don’t have the space or desire to compost on their own.

Used Bookstore

Books use a lot of paper and other resources in the production process. But you can sell used books to reduce that impact and give new life to old products.

Seller of Energy Efficient Lighting

Lighting uses a lot of energy. But you can start a business by selling lighbulbs and other lighting materials that are actually efficient.

Glass Artist

Glass can be recycled in a number of ways. But you can also use it as a material for art or craft projects, ranging from stained glass items to glass beads for jewelry.

Eco-Friendly Toy Seller

You can also create toys that are made with eco-friendly or recycled materials.

Second Hand Store Owner

To give new life to a variety of older products, you can open a consignment or second-hand store, which can also keep many of those items out of landfills.

Tech Refurbisher

When people get new smartphones, computers or tablets, their devices often just sit unused or get thrown away. But you can start a business as a refurbisher to repurpose those devices and sell them to customers who could use less expensive versions.

Ink Refill Business

Ink cartridges for printers can also be expensive and potentially wasteful. So you can start a business refilling them so that customers can get more use out of them instead of continuing to buy new ones.

Herbal Remedy Provider

There are lots of herbal remedies out there for different ailments, many of which are made with natural materials. You can produce your own foods and supplements that are made naturally and sustainably.

Green Publisher

If you want to spread the word about certain environmental initiatives or trends, you can work as a publisher of a green publication like a magazine or even an online newsletter.

Environmental YouTube Channel

You can also start a YouTube channel dedicated to showcasing green products or trends.

Sustainable Podcaster

Or you can even focus just on the audio and start a sustainable podcast.

Green Software Developer

For techie entrepreneurs, there are plenty of opportunities to build a business developing software. You can even focus on building software programs made specifically to help businesses or individuals with environmental activitiies.

Solar Panel Installer

More and more consumers and businesses are beginning to consider solar power. So you can build a business installing solar panels on roofs and other areas so your clients can utilize that green power source.

Organic Gift Shop

You can also start a local gift shop that focuses specifically on products that use natural and organic materials.

Sustainable Farmer

If you have the land and the resources, you can also start an organic farm on your property and produce and sell a variety of different food items.

Green Fair Organizer

If you want to start your own event series, you can create a fair that is environmentally focused and then charge admission or even obtain sponsors.

Electric Car Dealership

Electric cars are slowly gaining popularity. So you could open a dealership that specifically works with automotive brands that sell electric or hybrid models.

Electric Car Charging Station

With that increasing popularity, charging stations for electric vehicles are also becoming more of a necessity. So you could use that as a jumping-off point to start a business as well.

Car Sharing Service

The fewer people driving their own cars on the road, the less impact those vehicles are likely to have on the environment. So by starting a ride sharing service, you’re potentially decreasing the carbon footprint of some of those drivers.

Environmental Lawyer

If you’re a lawyer with a passion for the earth, you can build a practice that specifically works on issues related to the environment.

Solar Powered Bike Café

Not all coffee businesses require dedicated locations or lots of supplies. You can actually start a mobile coffee business on a bike, and use solar energy to power your equipment.

Bicycle Tours

If you live in an area that’s popular for tourists, you can potentially start a business as a tour guide. And to add a sustainable twist, you can have guests ride bikes around rather than taking a bus or other vehicle.

Pool Cleaner

During the warm months, you can offer your services as a pool cleaner and make sure you use sustainable products and methods.

Juice or Smoothie Bar

Juice and smoothie bars are becoming increasingly popular. You can open one that specifically focuses on using organic and sustainable ingredients.

Green Florist

Likewise, you can focus on organic and sustainable flowers and plants and open a specialty florist shop.

Gift Basket Service

Gift baskets remain popular for a variety of events and occasions. You can build a gift basket business that specializes in organic products or sustainable materials.

Food Plant Nursery

You can also encourage others to eat sustainable food by helping them grow their own. You can do so through opening a nursery that sells food plants to customers.

Green Bed and Breakfast

If you’re more aligned with the hospitality industry, consider opening a bed and breakfast and keeping your location running with minimal power and using organic ingredients for the meals you serve — or  sourcing as much of that food as possible locally.

Solar RoofUpcycled FurnitureGlass ArtFarmer Photos via Shutterstock

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Move over mosquitoes: Tick prevention grabs attention in fall and …

The ticks which spread Lyme disease — adult black-legged or deer ticks — are most active during fall and winter, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), which predicts 2016 will be a banner year for ticks. Annually, about 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate.

Multiple diseases, multiple risks

The CDC lists 15 different diseases transmitted by ticks, including Lyme, anaplasmosis, two types of rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF). These diseases can vary greatly in severity and duration; some can be debilitating and even fatal.

Ticks thrive virtually everywhere in the country, with different species preferring different locales. While ticks are commonly found in heavily wooded areas, they also thrive in domestic settings such as gardens, landscape plantings and backyard grasses. In fact, experts estimate that the majority of people who contract tick-borne diseases came in contact with the tick that made them ill right in their own backyards.

Tick prevention starts with deer

Ticks hang out on shrubs, trees and in grass waiting for a host to pass by. Hitching a ride on suburban deer and other animals, including pets, is one of their main means of transportation. Cooler weather means deer are more likely to come closer to homes looking for mates, or to dine on suburban landscapes as wild food sources dwindle.

Ticks may travel to your backyard riding on the deer that’s dining on your landscaping, only to stay behind when the deer moves on. Once they’re in your environment, it’s just a waiting game for the tick to find a host; a person, dog or cat passing by.

While you may know the need to inspect humans for ticks after spending time outdoors, it can be harder to detect their presence when they’re hidden in pet fur. Both dogs and cats can pick up ticks that they bring into your home, where the tick may transfer to a human or stick with the pet and make it sick.

The CDC recommends homeowners discourage deer away from residences in order to help minimize potential exposure to ticks.

“Tick populations do not decrease substantially unless deer are eradicated or severely reduced,” the CDC says.

Deterring deer

You can discourage deer from entering your environment in a number of ways, from long-term measures like planting vegetation deer don’t like, to sure-fire but challenging tactics like building a tall fence. However, these tactics have their limitations. With cold weather approaching, you don’t have time to install new plantings and deer will eat just about anything available in cold weather. Plus, many communities restrict the height of fences and deer have been known to easily jump over fences as high as 10 feet.

One of the easiest, most effective and practical ways to deter deer is through the use of a topical foliar spray like Bobbex Deer Repellent.

The spray can be applied year-round; it uses taste and scent-aversion ingredients to deter deer from grazing on foliage, shrubs and trees. During spring and summer months, gardeners rely on Bobbex to protect their gardens from deer damage. It’s also effective in winter to not only protect plants, but also people and pets — by keeping tick-carrying deer away from homes.

It’s safe for use around children and pets because the product is all natural. It works in fall and winter as well as during warm weather, and won’t wash off under rain or snow. In testing by the Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture, Bobbex was found to be 93 percent effective in deterring deer when compared to like repellents,  and second only to a physical fence. Learn more at

Human and companion animal health experts agree: keeping deer away from your home is essential for reducing exposure to disease-bearing ticks.

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Locals Find A Green Solution To Flooding With Rain Gardens And Rain Barrels

Tonarreo King works on a rain garden at Advocate United Church of Christ.
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EAST SIDE — With the help of both the city and a local organization, a few communities have found resourceful ways to prevent basements from flooding and sewers from overflowing.

A green sustainability initiative has been happening on the South Side thanks to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and nonprofit Faith in Place. The organization aims to inspire people to care for the earth through four areas: energy and climate change; sustainable food and land use; water preservation; and advocacy, outreach coordinator Ramont Bell said.

“We’re taking 1.5 million gallons of water out of the stormwater system, and if we can keep the project going this can actually be a huge advantage,” he said. “It won’t solve the problem but we’re gong to assist greatly.”

Andrea Watson details the rain diversion program.

Bell’s organization is helping install rain gardens and distributing rain barrels at five churches on the South and West sides. They include The New Mission Temple Church of God in Christ, Greenstone United Methodist Church, St. Bride Church, Advocate United Church and New Life Church Southeast. They are located in high-ranked flooding areas, Bell said.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology, a group that focuses on urban sustainability, said urban flooding “occurs when rain overwhelms drainage systems and waterways and makes its way into the basements, backyards and streets of homes, businesses and other properties.”

Stormwater has several ways to flood a property: overflow from rivers and streams, sewage pipe backup into buildings and seepage through building wall and floors, and the accumulation of stormwater on property and in public property.

Urban flooding in Cook County is a “chronic and systemic” problem, according to the group’s 2014 report.

More than 181,000 claims were made in 97 percent of Cook County ZIP codes in the last five years. Seventy percent of online survey respondents estimate that they had flooding three or more times in the last five years, 20 percent had flooding 10 or more times.                       

Five rain gardens were installed this year by Faith in Place with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Greenstone United Methodist Church in the West Pullman neighborhood had a rain garden designed. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]

All of the churches involved are either in the process of building a rain garden or already have one. The way a rain garden works is the downspout carries water from the gutter into the ground, so water is diverted to the garden instead of into the sewer system.

“This water is great for your plants,” Bell said. “It doesn’t have the fluoride or chlorine in it, and plants like this water better than they like the water that comes out of the faucet.”

The community gardens have dual roles; stop flooding and beautify the community.

“We’re trying to bring a little nature to an urban setting,” Bell said.

A garden at Advocate United Church of Christ, 10259 S. Avenue L, will have a bird feeder, perennials, a tree and sitting stones when it’s completed. Bell said it will be a nice place to meditate and take in nature. 

The Rev. Luther Mason, pastor at Greenstone United Methodist Church in West Pullman, had a rain garden designed on the side of his church. He said he really likes the initiative.

“When Ramont approached me about the rain garden project…, I said it sounds like a winner to me,” he said. “The garden enhances the church. I can’t wait for it to fully be in bloom in another year because the garden will be full of birds and bees.”

All landscaping and rain garden installation is done by High Bridge, a group that gives ex-offenders meaningful work.

Tonarreo King (left) and Shawn Smith work for High Bridge. They installed a bird feeder at Advocate United Church of Christ. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]

Tonarreo King has been with High Bridge since last year.

“There was no job in sight for me at all,” King said about his job hunt before joining the program.

“After incarceration, it’s pretty hard to come out and get a job and people really don’t want to give you that chance,” King said.

He said he enjoys working in the gardens and he quickly fell “in love” with the work.

King works with Shawn Smith, who said he experienced the same problem finding a job, and likes what he does.

“Our boss tells us the game plan, so we then try to get a vision and then tackle it,” Smith said.

Besides rain gardens, the second part to the initiative is installing rain barrels.

A rain barrel collects runoff water. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]

Homeowners can use water collected to wash their car or water their lawn. Rain barrel water is naturally free of chlorine, lime and calcium, according the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s website.

Commissioner Kari K. Steele said the rain barrel program is in its second year, and so far the agency has distributed more than 72,000 barrels. The installation is fairly simple, she said.

Commissioner Kari K. Steele (left) with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District [Provided photo/Faith in Place]

One reason more residents are experiencing flooding in their basements is because of climate change, Steele said.

“Climate change is real and we’re experiencing more heavy downpours than usual and more heavy rains than we have in the past,” she said. “If it’s a heavy downpour, then that’s a lot of water going into our sewer system at one time.”

What her department and Faith in Place are doing is offering a solution to the problem.

“They’re bringing awareness about green infrastructure to an urban setting which is so important right now because the climate is changing and we’re growing as a city,” Steele said.

Each rain barrel holds 55 gallons of water, so in one rainy season a rain barrel is diverting 3,270 gallons of runoff water, she said.

“That’s gallons of water that we’re keeping out of the sewer system at one time, so that definitely can help decrease the amount of basement backups,” she said.

The city isn’t necessarily saving money, Steele said, but it’s the homeowners benefiting from using the rain barrel or living in an area with a rain garden.

“I feel like this is something everyone should take advantage of,” she said.

The program ends in December. For more information visit or contact Steele’s office at 312-751-5695.

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The Perfect Earth Project Presenting Free Holiday Weekend Landscape Workshop For Homeowners

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Attendees can get one-on-one advice from notable Hamptons landscapers and designers. (Courtesy Photo)

Hamptons homeowners will be able to learn about sustainable practices for landscaping and gardening in the East End watershed during the Perfect Earth Project’s Sustainable Practices for East End Watersheds: A Free Workshop for Local Homeowners at The Nature Conservancy’s Center for Conservation in East Hampton on Sunday, October 9th. From 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., hear from some of the area’s top landscape designers and architects, who will cover how to design and maintain beautiful home gardens without using the harmful and toxic chemicals that are so prevalent in contemporary maintenance techniques, many of which harm our island’s water quality, as well. By educating homeowners about safe and proper landscaping and gardening, Perfect Earth Project hopes to improve the East End’s water quality and provide solutions to the nitrogen pollution.

“Having a toxin-free lawn and garden is one thing every homeowner can do today—for free!—to have an immediate impact on the health of our bodies and our local bodies of water,” explained Jess Tonn of the Perfect Earth Project. “We’re proud to be partnering with the Friends of Georgica Pond and The Nature Conservancy to help homeowners transition their properties to toxin-free and incorporate other nitrogen-reducing technologies into their homes. We’ll have a knowledgeable team of landscape architects and designers on hand, so bring your garden design and maintenance questions.”

Hamptons homeowners will be able to learn about sustainable practices for landscaping and gardening. (Courtesy Photo)

Notable Hamptons landscapers and designers attending this workshop include Ed Hollander (Hollander Design), Abby Lawless (Farm Design), Tony Piazza (Piazza Horticultural), Geoffrey Nimmer (Geoffrey Nimmer Landscapes), Edwina von Gal (Edwina von Gal and Co.), Paul Wagner (Perfect Earth Project Lawn Expert and Greener Pastures Organics) and Jim Grimes (James C. Grimes Land Design and Fort Pond Native Plants). This complimentary event is sponsored by The Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation and The Nature Conservancy of East Hampton.

Coffee and snacks will be provided, as well as a free guide to watershed-wise gardening. Sustainable Practices for East End Watersheds: A Free Workshop for Local Homeowners is limited to 75 attendees, so please reserve a space in advance of the event.

The Nature Conservancy is located at 142 Route 114 in East Hampton. For more information, or to reserve a space in the event, please visit

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Gardening tips for October

By Ray Ridlen

•Plant spring flowering bulbs now in well-drained soils with good sunlight. Planting depth is two times bulb diameter.

•Plant pansies, kale, and cabbage.

•Dig and store tender bulbs and tubers in a cool dry place.

•It is time to plant spring-flowering bulbs you purchased in September, such as daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus.

•Soil test—now is the time to test the soil in your planned beds for plant nutrients.

•Container-grown shade trees and pines are most successfully planted in the fall. Broadleaf evergreens or bare-root plants are best planted in the spring.

•In mid-month, fertilize cool season lawns.

•Seeding of cool-season grasses for perennial lawns can continue through mid-October.

•Over-seeding of warm-season lawns with cool-season grasses for winter should be performed late this month. Warm-season lawns are healthiest if wither over-seeding is not performed.

•Continue mowing cool-season lawns on a regular basis, even if warm-season grasses have quit growing.

•Remove leaves from cool-season grasses or mow with mulching mower.

•As leaves begin to fall composting is a great option. Another option is tilling them into any fallow beds you have or the vegetable garden.

•October is an excellent time to control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm or cool-season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer. Don’t apply to seedling fescue.

•Mow and edge neatly before killing frost.

•Clean up marginal water garden plants after first frost kills the tops.

•Place a net over the water garden to prevent leaves from falling in the water.

•Remove diseased plant material from the landscape to reduce disease problems next year.

•Get ready for winter. Work annual beds and mulch.

•Mulch tubers and other perennials that need to be protected from cold.

•Gather tomatoes and melons to keep as long as possible.

•Sketch out where you planted various vegetables in your garden. This will come in handy next spring when you plant, so you can rotate your crops to help prevent disease.

•Compost everything that will rot. Do not include any diseased plants.

•Fruit sanitation—begin inspecting your fruit trees. Be sure to remove any mummified remaining fruits, and rake up and dispose of old leaves and branches that may harbor diseases over the winter.

October is when our gardens give us tremendous pleasure as they display their colors. Notice the plants that draw your attention. Decide which plants would fit into your landscape. Fall is a good time to plant shrubs and trees.

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