Summer Workshop: Novel Approaches to Sustainable Horticulture

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With the basics covered in other ELA programs, join us for the ELA Summer Workshop as we explore new strategies to add to the toolbox to save time, reduce your carbon footprint, and bring a tasty snack to your table as we continue our quest for more sustainable landscapes with some novel approaches.

Incredible Edibles – More Fruit for Your Labor
Ben Barkan
The lone patio tomato is now being supplanted by a sophisticated palette of edible options in landscape design. Rather than separate edible plants into a home orchard or vegetable garden, the aesthetics of many of these plant invite incorporation into borders and hedges. Imagine springtime cherry blossoms from fruiting cherries rather than the ornamental varieties; build multi-season interest with bountiful blueberries in summer followed by spectacular autumn foliage; and create unexpected winter interest from the purple-red vines of the thornless blackberry.

The Space In Between – Cover Cropping Reimagined
Anna Fialkoff

Farmers have known the advantages of cover-cropping for generations: erosion control; improved soil tilth; increased atmospheric nitrogen fixation; reduced nutrient leaching; support for beneficial soil organisms; improved water infiltration; and weed control. Recent experiments have been adopting the benefits of cover cropping in place of mulch in a horticulture setting to fill in between newly planted perennials or immature shrubs. Anna Fialkoff will discuss this cover cropping technique and explain the process and benefits of seeding nitrogen-fixing partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) in garden beds.

Adaptive Management –
Flexible Strategies to Guide Plant Growth in Naturalistic Landscapes
Nick Novick

Many techniques recommended for “weed control” often concentrate on complete removal or elimination — pulling or digging out, treating with herbicide, etc. Sometimes these measures are necessary, but in densely planted communities of native plants, sometimes these more time- and labor-intensive procedures aren’t really needed. Simply reducing the vigor of some plants by selective cutting or mowing might be enough to tip the balance to allow desirable plants to claim the space. This discussion will give an overview of some novel techniques for managing plant growth including timed mowing and cutting, removing seed heads, etc.

Rethinking Leaf Management at Garden in the Woods
Mark Richardson

For decades, the American landscape aesthetic has included a manicured lawn; meticulously “cleaned” garden beds; and an annual application of bark mulch (often artificially colored, sometimes not bark at all but ground construction debris, and usually hauled in from great distances).

At the Garden in the Woods, horticultural staff have always taken a more environmental approach, collecting and chopping leaves to reapply to gardens in lieu of bark mulch. But in the past three years, the staff have modified the process further to be even more sustainable. The new strategies take into account both budgets and ecosystems and have had a positive impact on both. The fundamental shift includes a more natural approach to leaf management. Now the staff leave the majority of the leaves in place, further minimizing their carbon footprint. Mark Richardson will share tips and lessons learned as they have committed to leave the leaves, an ecological method which is both intriguing and achievable.
Framingham, MA
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Horticulture / Plants
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
- Attendee learns design strategies for incorporating edible plants into the landscape.
- Attendee learns cover-cropping techniques for horticultural setting in order to retain moisture, improve soil conditions, and minimize maintenance.
- Attendee learns innovative methods of weed control.
- Attendee learns benefits of collecting and chopping leaves for use in gardens in lieu of bark mulch.
Ben Barkan, HomeHarvest; Anna Fialkoff, Nasami Nursery; Nick Novick, Small Planet Landscaping; Mark Richardson, New England Wild Flower Society
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Course Codes
Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA)

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