| Good sustainability news from West Chester Weekly News Roundup by hellowestchester , 9/17/21 (sign up there for weekly emails with the latest on West Chester)|
Brace yourself. You ready? West Chester is moving forward with its long awaited community composting option.
“We’ve tried to do this a couple of different times,” said West Chester Sustainability Director William Williams at this month’s Borough Council working session. “We’ve gotten grant funds. We’ve built these programs. The grant goes away. The program goes away.” Well, not this time.
After reviewing four different options from purely educational to 100% Borough-run, Will and West Chester’s Sustainability Advisory Committee think they have come up with a solution that just may stick. One that puts a little bit of the onus on each of the stakeholders – Borough, resident, private sector.
The plan? partner with a private curbside collection service, in this case, WasteWell.
How it works
All members of the program get a big 5-gallon bucket at sign up. You fill it with fruit, vegetable scraps, eggshells, cut flowers, shredded newspaper, etc. (don’t worry, they’ll give you a list). Then every two weeks you put it outside and WasteWell comes to collect it, but that’s not it…
“I almost forgot the best part,” Will said. Every sprint you can get 40lbs of a compost delivered for free. The service normally costs $18/mo but will be offered to Borough residents at $15/mo or a 17 percent discount. WasteWell is also offering to collect from one low-income resident for only $1/mo for every ten West Chester residents that sign up.
The takeaway In terms of immediate savings, it won’t mean much for the Borough. Once they subsidize the savings, they are looking to net a whopping $3/year per participating customer. Should they hit their year-one goal, that would mean $300 in savings but this isn’t about the short game. It’s the long-term impact and the right thing to do environmentally, that make it compelling.
According to Will, the Chester County landfill currently has less than 15-year capacity. When it’s full we’ll have to start shipping our waste to distant locales at, of course, a cost. “We should do everything in our capacity to extend the capacity of the landfill,” said Will Williams and this would definitely be a step in the right direction.
Please let us know you are coming at Eventbrite.
Dr. Doug Tallamy will describe his plan for a grassroots call-to-action to regenerate biodiversity through native plantings in your backyard. Dr. Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, best-selling author, and an international expert on restoring health to the planet through plants, will visit West Chester University on Monday, September 13.
Prof. Tallamy will spend the day speaking to University classes and will offer a 5pm lecture to the community. Dr. Tallamy is the co-founder of Homegrown National Park, with the purpose to regenerate biodiversity, one person at a time, though a grassroots call-to-action that focuses on native plantings.
Please join West Chester Green Team and WCU Office of Sustainability, which are co-sponsoring Doug’s lecture, at 5:00pm in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall at 700 S. High Street in West Chester Borough.
THIS EVENT IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC BUT REGISTRATION IS REQUESTED
Download the below flyer here.
by Cara Corridoni
With the Tokyo Olympics just underway, last week Melton Center students got a juicy glimpse into Japanese culture.
As part of their Mondays at Melton series, the West Chester Green Team partnered with the Japan Foundation to tell students the story of Momotaro, a child born from a giant peach. The only son of an elderly couple, Momotaro leaves as an adolescent to protect his village from a band of ogres. With the help of some friends he meets along the way, Momotaro is able to convince the ogres to repent of their misdeeds and returns to his homeland a hero. Momotaro is an oral story that may date back to the 14th century.
The story helped to illustrate the importance of oral storytelling in the Japanese culture while celebrating peach season locally. After the reading, students enjoyed delicious peaches from Barnard’s Orchards, sampled some Japanese candy and got to try their hand at the Japanese art form of origami.
Special thanks to Japan Foundation volunteers Reiko Yoshida, her daughter Misaki and husband Taka Nagai (our stalwart photographer) for making the evening one that students won’t soon forget.
Type “Melton” in the Search box in the right sidebar for earlier stories about Mondays at Melton.
DLN reporter Bill Rettew was with us on July 19, at the weekly Mondays at Melton program presented jointly by the West Chester Green Team and the Melton Center. His photo shows Nora Ziegler reading a book on tomatoes to the children.
Read the full article “West Chester students get lesson on growing, harvesting fruits and vegetables” at the Daily Local News site. Excerpt:
“A lot of kids are not exposed to growing,” said Green Team president elect Margaret Hudgings. “They see it comes from a package in the supermarket instead of from a garden.”
The students plant and watch veggies grow from seeds.
“I gives them an appreciation of fruits and vegetables,” Hudgings said. “If involved with growing themselves, they will eat it.”
Please check out a great article by journalist and professor in WCU’s Department of Communication and Media Jesse Piersol, “What’s Growing in the Borough: the bounty of West Chester gardens,” in the July issue of the very attractive publication The WC Press, pages 33-41. You may receive or pick up a copy, or you can subscribe online for free when you look at the article here.
The article features interviews with:
• Our own gardening activists Ashlie Delshad, Margaret Hudgings, and Sallie Jones;
• West Chester University’s Joan Welch, Kate Stewart and Tyler Montgomery, about the four WCU campus gardens (see our new video featuring them here; scroll down to “The Gardens of West Chester University” and follow the link);
• Also Christina Wilcomes of Hackberry Hill Flowers and Ben Rotteveel of DutchGrown Flower Bulbs.
The article, beautifully written and illustrated with 5 garden photos, including kids gardening at the Melton Center in our community garden program there (see more here and here), ends with thoughts about how, even in difficult times, gardening can bring us a sense of tranquility and escapism.
Thanks to Jesse Piersol and The WC Press for such a great job of presenting an important local trend. May it inspire many more gardeners!
By WCGT summer Garden Program Coordinator Elizabeth Schultz, showing the project she directed at the June 21 Mondays at Melton program
Looking for a simple, fun activity to do with kids? Look no further! The Green Team organized the following planting activity for children at our first Mondays at Melton youth series, and it is easy to replicate at home. Follow the steps below, and in just a few days you will have a jar person with edible cress hair that can be cut and enjoyed in soups, salads, sandwiches, and more!
- Glass Jar (We used an upcycled 5oz Oui yogurt jar)
- Garden Cress Seeds
- Glass Painting/Decorating Materials
- Step 1: After gathering your materials, start by decorating your jar with whatever craft materials you have on hand. Our kids enjoyed working with paint markers and googly-eyes to make their jar faces really stand out.
- Step 2: Once your jar has a lively face, fill it almost to the brim with organic soil or dirt.
- Step 3: Sprinkle a pinch of your garden cress seeds over the top of the dirt.
- Step 4: Spoon a small amount of soil over the seeds until they are all lightly buried. Keep seeds shallow at about ¼” planting depth.
- Step 5: Wet the soil with a little bit of water, place the jar on a windowsill, and wait. Garden cress is extremely quick to sprout and low-maintenance (making it great for impatient kids). You should see cress growing within 2-5 days!
In a week or less, your cress shoots will be 1½-2” tall and ready to harvest. You can cut the stalks off at the base and use the greens to add a peppery tang to your next dish. To learn more about garden cress and how you can use it in your kitchen, read here.
Thanks to journalist Bill Rettew of the Daily Local News for this tribute to the power of flowers and the Green Team’s efforts to beautiful our area and make it more sustainable! And of course congratulations to Christiane for her contributions to the streetscape.
As Christiane says in the article: “Planting these beautiful flowers or plants provides much more habitat and food to insects and birds compared to just grass. It’s one step you can take to contribute to the environment and it looks beautiful.”
by Courtney Finneran
Are you interested in an affordable DIY project to convert your monoculture lawn into a gorgeous and ecologically beneficial native pollinator garden? West Chester Transition Team’s Living Landscapes Committee created a publicly accessible native pollinator garden located in the 500 block of South Maryland Ave in West Chester Borough to showcase this technique and educate the public on the benefits.
Visible from the sidewalk, the new 200-square-foot native pollinator garden will provide nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds and food for caterpillars. Native plants have evolved to act as hosts to our native insects and therefore provide a highly valuable resource that cannot be provided by non-natives.
Before the area was planted with a mix of native grasses and perennials, the turfgrass had to be removed first. To do this, the committee chose to use the technique commonly known as smothering or tarping, also called solarization or occultation. Thick black plastic sheeting was laid down on the area in mid-March and stayed in place for five weeks. Next the plastic was removed, and the area was exposed to sunlight and precipitation for two weeks. Finally, the plastic was re-laid over the area for a final one-to-two week period to kill any remaining weeds and grass.
When the tarp was removed, the dead material was raked up, which also helped prepare the surface for planting. The plants used for this bed were purchased from an online nursery that provides small 4”-plugs consisting of over 13 different native species assembled in a pre-assembled “pollinator garden.” Two pollinator garden trays, totaling 100 plugs of 14 different native species were purchased in February. The goal for this site was to plant the area densely for maximum first-season growth and success.
The planting layout design was developed by one of the Committee members, Michele Hensey of Lifescapes.design. Plants were installed in mid-May shortly after shipment. Pine straw was used for mulch to help retain moisture and control weed growth. Due to the heavy pressure from rabbits in this area, metal cages were put around several preferred species.
The Green Team’s community gardening program is well underway. Local residents and families who want to garden but lack their own suitable space are hard at work at three different locations in West Chester Borough.
An important part of it is the Mondays at Melton program for kids; see background here.
Here is a summary of the second Monday eve program by Jamie Atkins, New Directions Program Director at the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center:
We had another wonderful Monday at Melton on June 28! Melinda and her son William read a beautiful book, The Bear’s Garden, and the kids loved making their newspaper pots — many of them even planted them in our garden! 🪴 Thank you so much, Melinda, for your patience, kindness, and amazing teaching skills!
Also, a big thank you to Nora, who helped with everything from leasing the soil station to walking kids to the bathroom, and to Courtney for bringing her kiddos Ollie and Everette to participate in the program. It was a hot but wonderful night for all, with a lot of smiles!
The kids were also so excited to harvest our first ripe cherry tomato of the season! Enjoy the photos!
Self-guided walking tour of West Chester Borough gardens visible from the sidewalk except as noted, June 25 – July 5 from 10 am to sunset daily. See overall info and flyer here.
This free tour includes a scavenger hunt. At each location, a Green Man or Woman is hidden. The Green Man is a legendary being representing the cycle of new growth that occurs every spring, commonly depicted as a face made of, or completely surrounded by, leaves. Please post a photo of a Green Man that you find on your tour to our Facebook page!
Map and Outline: Southern Route (see full details farther below)
318 W. Union St. – Native plants
324 W. Union St. and Holly Alley – Native plants
409 W. Union St. – Lawn to garden
111 S. Brandywine St. – Food garden
224 W. Barnard St. – Small spaces
119 W. Miner St. – Wildflowers
Map and Outline: Northern Route (see full details farther below)
721 N. Franklin St. – Native plants
700 N. Franklin St. – Community garden (drive in, park in visitor space, walk through gate to the right of the drive and into the garden area in the angle of two buildings)
Marshall St. and Franklin St. – Fountain
501 S. Maryland Ave. – Lawn to garden
323 W. Biddle St. – “Hell strip” (between sidewalk and street)
Additional garden at WCU
750 S. Church St. behind Merion Science Center and Planetarium, also accessible via Rosedale Ave. behind Killinger Hall – Classroom gardens (If you drive, you’ll need to park at a meter on either street and walk in)
Full Write-ups of all gardens (download pdf here)
318 W. Union St.
This garden has evolved over thirty years. Gail has enjoyed different plantings through the years but in the last ten years she has become a follower of noted native plant advocate Doug Tallamy and has tried to make her small Borough garden a haven for native plants, wildlife and pollinators. Many of the plants are specifically grown for pollinators including the Monarch butterfly. Some of these include a volunteer Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood; Asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed; Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed; Eutrochium dubnium ‘Little Joe’ Joe Pye Weed; various asters; Solidago rugosa, Goldenrod; Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, sweet pepper bush; and Lonicera sempervirens, a native honeysuckle which attracts hummingbirds and provides shelter for birds. This yard, both front and back, has been made into gardens while eliminating grass. The owners also enjoy traditional plants such as a collection of David Austin Roses and various Clematis, spring bulbs and seasonal annuals. Feel free to look over the backyard fence (from the alley) as well.
324 W. Union St. and Holly Alley
Gardening is irresistible to me. I love getting my hands in the soil, placing plants in aesthetically pleasing groupings of colors and textures, and choosing plants that are ecologically valuable. Being in my garden brings me a sense of calm and perspective, whether I am weeding, planting, deadheading, or just sitting and noticing. Moving to our home in the Borough about six years ago, I envisioned the small yard as a blank slate and have been happily “painting with plants” ever since.
The front garden contains only herbaceous perennials and bulbs. They are planted on 12-24” centers to cover the 20’ x 30’ rectangle inside the steel fence, where once there was only lawn. (My wonderful husband dug nearly all the planting holes and hauled away the excess soil.) I chose a palette of plants that would provide changing colors, heights, and textures throughout the growing season as well as food and habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies. The idea to create an “urban meadow” came from a garden-designer friend, who referred me to the book The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden by Roy Diblik.
Important tenets of this style of garden include 1) knowing your plants; 2) knowing your garden’s light, soil, and moisture requirements; and 3) positioning the plants in drifts or swaths with occasional accent plants. I sketched out the placement of plants on a piece of graph paper before making any purchases. I leave the plants to die and decay in place at the end of the growing season. Their seed heads and hollow stems provide food and homes for birds and bugs. Once a year in March I cut down the plants to about 6” above the ground and drop the cuttings on the ground between plants. There is no mulching of this garden. Soon spring bulbs emerge and help hide the meadow stubble. Perennials tend to expand their base, and some seed in, so the annual management includes some weeding in spring and occasional, selective removal of plants that grew bigger than I expected. The front garden is only two years old; we sit on the porch, enjoy the view, and watch the garden’s continuing evolution.
The back garden, which can be viewed from our gravel parking pad on Holly Alley, has two zones. There is a dry, shady side, thanks to the large canopy and extensive root system of the neighbor’s Blue Atlas Cedar, and there is a semi-sunny side whose clayey soil tends to hold moisture. When we moved to this property in 2015, every bit of the previous owner’s backyard landscaping had to be removed to provide access for excavation and the construction of the addition at the rear of the house. With the help of friends, those plants were dug up and given away.
Unfortunately, the contractors hauled away the topsoil, and their equipment compacted the remaining subsoil. We have been slowly working to improve the soil ever since. Steadily adding organic matter and loosening the compacted layers have been key. My husband makes compost from our kitchen scraps and some of our yard waste, so long as they don’t contain seeds. We bring home tubs of shredded leaves from large piles collected each fall and left to rot at a nearby cemetery. Some of the leaves go into the compost, and some are used to top dress the soil around the plants. The back garden was not planned and executed like the front garden.
Here I indulge my tendency to collect plants and try new combinations. There are trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, and annuals including a few vegetables. I regularly “edit” this garden, moving plants around and making space for newcomers.
409 W. Union St.
Jim began taking away bits of lawn 2 years ago, creating a tiny flower and food garden in front of our front porch at our 1876 brick twin house. He grows tomatoes and strawberries, asparagus and kale and his prize plant is an 8-foot tall fig tree that produced 30 figs last summer. This year, Jim removed the bushes on the alley in back of the house and added in blackberry and raspberry bushes. We hope that they grow and produce a fruit snack for people going down the alley to Everhart Park. Plans for next year include removing the remaining small strip of lawn in front of the front garden and adding in more flowers and some herbs. The goal is more of an English country garden feeling, interspersed with vegetables. Jim plans to keep the usable bits of lawn–but only those–and add in native species as possible, without destroying the beloved plants already in our garden.
111 S. Brandywine St.
This garden showcases perennial flowers and edible plants. As you walk along the alley from the street to the fence some of the plants you will see, in order are: blueberries, serviceberry, bee balm, geranium, raised beds with annual vegetables, chives, quince, azalea, rhododendron, fig, bronze fennel, horseradish, bachelor’s buttons and irises.
224 W. Barnard St,.
Built circa 1850, this little gem of a single house boasts a charming front garden planted with a variety of flowers surrounded by an iron fence authentic to the period. This front yard garden, somewhat on the shady side, uses its space well. In the front row: comfrey (with delicate blue flowers leading to attractive seed fronds), spiderwort. Behind the gravel path: iris, various hostas, hydrangea in the middle, lily of the valley, Japanese fern. Pots include chrysanthemums. On the right side against the fence: the purple-leaved heuchera, petunia, salvia, and on the left side are colorful caladiums. The sidewalk too is utilized, with daylilies, petunias, and the less common low-growing succulent portulaca (pink flower, orange middle). A comfortable front porch allows the owner to enjoy the view. A distinctive feature of this house is its Japanese style decorative rain chain on the front porch. The Japanese word for this interesting feature, a series of small vessels linked by chain, is kusari-toi. Such downspouts are in common use in Japan.
119 W. Miner St.
This large sunny garden contains a rich variety of perennials and self-seeding plants. The large selection of plantings includes some less common specimens. Alium, now in its seed phase, is dotted around. At the left back the tall plant preparing to flower is Joe Pye weed (eupatorium). The reddish leaf with pink flowers is penstemon. Various euphorbias, salvias (with a range of flower hues) and grasses add accents. Asters, artemisia and thistles are not yet blooming. Sedum is recognizable with its succulent leaf, and a yucca is nearing the flower stage. The slender foot-high stems with purplish flowers are verbena. Scattered throughout are a number of epimedium plants. The tall large-leaved plant about to bloom in yellow is likely rudbeckia maxima; the bright purple flower clumped like small bottle brushes is liatris. With many other specimens to challenge your identification skills, this garden makes a striking statement and is a good exemplar of the principle, dear to some gardeners, that where flowers are closely set enough, weeds cannot get a foothold.
721 N. Franklin St.
Michele moved into this home in October 2019. The entire property had only 2 Japanese trees (since removed) and lawn covered in turf grass. The previous owners don’t appear to have used fertilizers or chemicals, and the soil was healthy with a profusion of wild violets interspersed with turf grass, clover and the usual weeds. Over the last 18 months, more than 1500sf of lawn has been converted to native plant gardens – all sides of the driveway, 3 sides of the house, a large area along the street in front, and a similar area in the back, fenced yard for beneficial trees and pollinator plants. Over 275 native species have been planted, including white oaks, native hydrangeas, persimmon tree, serviceberry trees, edible viburnums (nannyberry) and numerous other shrubs, grasses and herbaceous plants to increase biodiversity. The goal is no invasive, non-native ornamentals and 99% natives so we are providing hosts, habitat and food for our insects and birds in an effort to restore these declining populations. The front yard roadside was most recently planted, where mature shrubs and trees will create a dense buffer for wildlife and privacy in the coming years.
700 N. Franklin St.
(If you drive: turn west from Franklin St., park in a visitor space, walk through the gate to the right of the main drive and along the building into the garden area in the angle of two buildings)
For Barclay Friends Assisted Living Facility, located at 700 N Franklin Street in West Chester, gardening is an important way that staff works to cultivate positive experiences for the residents in their care. Using resources from their many on-site vegetable and flower gardens, the staff at Barclay Friends routinely facilitates cooking tutorials, flower-arranging classes, and horticulture lessons for their facility members. This summer, in collaboration with the West Chester Green Team, Barclay Friends has generously expanded their garden offerings to reach the broader West Chester community. Eight brand new raised beds were added to Sydney’s Garden, which has allowed eight West Chester families to grow alongside Barclay Friends staff. Community gardening work is underway, and gardeners are eager to harvest bounties of peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, and more to share with family and neighbors. To learn more about how Barclay Friends uses gardening to further their Quaker values, visit their website.
Marshall St. and Franklin St. (Marshall Square Park)
The original iron fence surrounding the fountain was copied and re-built to protect the public and to surround the fountain, using the original iron acorns as finials. The area around the fountain includes new benches (available for purchase and dedication) set within the landscaping. The new plantings are intended to remain low, as to not block views to the fountain and to provide seasonal color. The fountain garden includes native flowering trees, low maintenance shrubs, perennials, ground covers and bulbs. The plantings include; Serviceberry (Amelanchiar canadensis), Viburnum carlessi (Koreanspice Viburnum), Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’, Daylilies, Native Geranium, Stachys, Sedum, Liriope, Iris siberica ‘Ceasar’s Brother’, Allium ‘Globemaster’ and ‘Thalia’ Daffodils. The iron bollards at the curb discourage wayward vehicles and the brick landing is surrounding by iron garden fencing with the same plants that are repeated in the fountain area.
501 S. Maryland Ave.
West Chester Transition Team’s Living Landscapes Committee created a publicly accessible native pollinator garden located in the 500 block of South Maryland Ave in West Chester Borough to showcase this technique and educate the public on the benefits. Accessible from the sidewalk, the new 200 square foot native pollinator garden will provide nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds and food for caterpillars. Native plants have evolved to act as hosts to our native insects and therefore provide a highly valuable resource that cannot be provided by non-natives.
Before planting the area with a mix of native grasses and perennials, the turf grass had to be removed first. To do this, the committee chose to use the technique commonly known as smothering or tarping, also called solarization or occultation. Thick black plastic sheeting was laid down on the area in mid-March and stayed in place for five weeks. Next the plastic was removed, and the area was exposed to sunlight and precipitation for two weeks. Finally, the plastic was re-laid over the area for a final one-two week period to kill any remaining weeds and grass.
When the tarp was removed, the dead material was raked up, which also helped prepare the surface for planting. The plants used for this bed were purchased from an online nursery that provides small 4”-plugs consisting of over 13 different native species assembled in a pre-assembled “pollinator garden.” Two pollinator garden trays, totaling 100 plugs of 14 different native species, were purchased in February. The goal for this site was to plant the area densely for maximum first-season growth and success.
323 W. Biddle St.
We were so frustrated with the unsightly look of the “hell strip” between our sidewalk and the parked cars. Weeds would creep from there into the sidewalk bricks constantly, which was time-consuming to keep under control. Last fall we decided to just rip out the entire strip along our long property line. Instead we filled it with free wood chips and added drought-tolerant, pollinator-friendly plants. From bulbs in the spring to bee balm for the summer and asters in the fall – it will provide blooms for most of the growing season. Flagstones were added as stepping stones for passengers stepping out of the cars. I hope it will bring joy to the neighbors and passers-by as well as our bees and butterflies.
Additional garden at WCU
750 S. Church St. Behind Merion Science Center and Planetarium, also accessible via Rosedale Ave. behind Killinger Hall (if you drive, you’ll need to park at a meter on either street and walk into the campus)
Native Plant Outdoor Classroom & Organic Annual Garden: Dedicated on April 21st, 2009, the North Campus learning garden was designed to engage students, faculty and guests in appreciating the native plant and wildlife of Chester County. Plantings such as red chokeberry, Joe Pye weed, hyssop, berry bushes, and many others draw in songbirds (and squirrels) to the feeder watch site. Art classes use the area for inspiration and environmental studies students are often there as well.
The outdoor classroom was expanded to include a vegetable and herb garden managed by faculty, staff, student interns, and volunteers. The beds are planted annually with seeds and seedlings provided by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society City Harvest program thanks to Dr. Ashlie Delshad. Amendments include compost from the garden compost system, and organic mushroom spent soil.
There are two permaculture (permanent agriculture) plots. One is a small native plant woodland with edible plants such as the Serviceberry tree (Amelanchier canadensis) and wild ramps (Allium tricoccum). The other is planted with fruit trees and sun chokes that are perennial. The herb spiral is in this plot.
Click here for documentation about creation of outdoor classroom with plant list