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Last updated: Fri. Mar. 28, 2014 - 07:48 am EDT

WHAT'S BLOOMIN' A COLUMN BY JANE FORD

Gardening column: More information about sustainability

Information packet tells you how to appraise landscape.

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I ended my column last week with the promise to tell you about the sustainable plan the Horticulture Department at the Allen County Extension is offering residents of Fort Wayne and Allen County. The following information will hopefully encourage you to take the challenge and get involved.

The introduction at the beginning of the information packet, written by Ricky Kemery, tells us that: “The goal of this project offered by the Allen County Extension Sustainable Working Group is to encourage homeowners and neighborhoods to adopt sustainable practices in the landscape and garden. The Sustainable Working Group consists of Master Gardener volunteers and landscape designers committed to sustainable use of resources in the landscape and garden. There are many definitions for the word sustainability. Sometimes the mention of sustainability evokes different emotions and meaning with citizens. Our definition of sustainability is simple: To engage in practices in the landscape and garden that are efficient, frugal, ethical, and environmentally friendly. Everyone's future depends on our ability to conserve resources and to use those resources as wisely as possible.”

Included in the packet of information are instructions on how to appraise your property right now and discover whether you are already practicing some or all of the items on the list. It is based on a three-level point system, and there is an extensive checklist you can use to see where you stand.

If you find that you have enough points for level 1, 2 or 3, or you just want help to decide how to begin, you can call the Extension at 481-6435 and ask for a group member to visit your property. They will go over the checklist to verify whether you indeed have satisfied some or the entire list of qualifiers – or they will help you get started.

When they visit, the group member will briefly look over the landscape or garden, and look at your checklists and additional invoices or attached pictures if you have them. The inspection should take about a half-hour.

Once you have satisfied the list and it is verified by a member of the group, you will be presented with a really neat weather-proof sign for your yard or garden that says you have a Certified Sustainable Landscape! You will also be eligible for awards and discounts.

“Each household who reaches at least one-star certification will also receive a 10 percent discount at our MG plant sales. Riverview Nursery (a native plant nursery) will provide a certificate/coupon good for (1) free perennial or 10 percent off a $100 perennial purchase.

Acres Land Trust will provide a new Preserve Guide. Little River Wetlands Project will donate a map of Eagle Marsh, a new sticker decal, and a free newsletter. Each household will also be listed on a hall-of-fame certificate located at the extension office. There may be additional 'rewards' as the season progresses.” (Quote from the information packet)

This is a great project to talk to your neighborhood association about. Even though getting people involved on a larger scale is more difficult, they might like to recruit neighbors to join — and possibly make it a contest.

Hopefully you will take the challenge and attend one of two Callout meetings at the Allen County Extension office at 10 a.m. April 12 or at 1:30 p.m. April 26, or email Ricky Kemery at kemeryr@purdue.edu and ask for the information packet.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@ frontier.com. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.


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