DC Urban Gardeners Teaching Teachers to Garden

jhhhhBringing gardens into schools has become the wave. Think Alice Waters, famed chef and proponent of eating fresh local foods, and the Edible Schoolyards program she started out of Berkley, CA.

Gardens open whole new vistas for school children. They can learn about biology through seeds and the way seeds turn into plants. They can learn about science through photosynthesis and the way the sun changes its position in the sky according to the seasons. Children can learn about nutrition by growing vegetables and learning how to prepare them in the kitchen.

And in an urban environment such as the District of Columbia, where many children may not have access to a garden or even a yard, these can be valuable, even life-altering lessons.

Horticulture can easily be woven into the school curriculum, especially if the school starts its own garden. But who teaches the teachers how to garden?

That would fall to a group called the D.C. Schoolyard Greening, a program of the D.C. Environmental Education Consortium.

I first heard about Schoolyard Greening last year when I was building a large container garden at my daughter’s school, the Children’s Studio School at 1301 V St. NW. We had received a $900 grant from Garden Resources of Washington. Pretty soon I was being invited to a fascinating clinic at a local elementary school.

I, the parent volunteer in the group, along with a room full of teachers from schools all over the city, learned about grant opportunities for starting gardens, about composting, about growing and using herbs.jkjgjg

It wasn’t long after that I learned that our Studio School garden had been selected as one of five stops on the annual Schoolyard Greening garden tour. A whole bus load of teachers arrived with cameras and tons of questions.

Pretty soon I was showing up at Schoolyard Greening’s planning meetings and then was asked to lead one of this years workshops. My assignment: weeding and garden maintenance.

Much of the planning and administrative work for Schoolyard Greening is done by Grace Manubay of Casey Trees, the non-profit group dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in the District. Grace also has been instrumental in identifying science standards that can be taught outdoors in D.C. school gardens.

On the government side of the consortium is Gilda Allen at the D.C. Department of the Environment, Watershed Protection Division. Gilda is a irrepressible gardener and organizer who also presides over a considerable grant program for school gardens called Greener Schools, Cleaner Water.

The program is aimed at school conservation sites and gardens with an emphasis on creating teaching areas that also help reduce storm water runoff. This year Gilda’s program awarded several $3,500 grants to D.C. schools to help start garden projects. Gilda wears yet another hat at Schoolyard Greening clinics: master composter.

Meanwhile, another prominent member of the group, Marti Goldstone, is a science teacher at Horace-Mann Elementary School in Northwest D.C. Marti and her teaching partner Louise Hill were instrumental in turning asphalt into a garden at Horace-Mann, and they teach a dynamite tag-team course on growing and using herbs.

Also directly involved is the Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum. Jenny Guillaume, the garden coordinator at the Youth Garden, now sadly departed for another job in Brooklyn, NY, was an active leader in Schoolyard Greening and is shown in the picture above teaching teachers how to plant celery.

Courtney Rose, educational coordinator at the Youth Garden, loves to teach about composting with worms.

The teacher clinic is a two-day affair. This year we kicked it off with a Powerpoint show and tour at the U.S. Botanical Gardens. There was also a bit of a brain tease for the 20-plus teachers who attended. We divided into groups and were handed a diagram and 40 minutes to solve a complex of landscaping design issues for an imaginary school.

Now that will get your mind focused.

For the second leg of our clinic we moved outdoors to the Washington Youth Garden, a perfect setting and on a perfect day for gardening. There were lessons in seed starting, growing and using herbs, composting and of course my spiel on organic maintenance using fun tools such as a stirrup hoe and a Japanese weeder that looks like a chef’s knife on a stick.


In between, we served a pretty scrumptious lunch, including a pasta with pesto made out of chickweed (that would have been the chickweed out of my own garden.)

Now Schoolyard Greening is on to other projects, such as taking an inventory of school gardens in the city and creating master lists with contact information so people can more easily learn about their local school gardens and lend support.

Do watch for more news about Schoolyard Greening. This is an organization worthy of your support. And you can learn more about it by visiting the website here.

You can check out the D.C. Environmental Education Consortium here.

By Ed Bruske

Advantages of Metal Roofs

dtrtryThe use of metal roofs in the residential or commercial places is not new ; and metal roofs have existed a long time ago since the 60s when metal roofing were considered as metallic coverings installed mostly in industrial and commercial buildings . These days, metal roofs are very stylish and are available in various styles and designs. Their functionality just like their design and style has a lot improved.

Nevertheless, many property owners wonder if they can get a return on this expensive investment. The major question is whether the lasting quality and energy savings of the metal roof may eventually pay for the upfront cost. To respond to this concern, the many has clarified some of the misunderstanding related to the installation of metal roofing and then clearly shows under which conditions the total advantages of metal roof are realized.

Exploring Numerous Advantages of Metal Roofs

No one will ever argue the advantages related to metal roofs, but they need to look at these positive aspects when compared with other forms of roofs and give some thought to the environment in which one lives along with the duration one plans to live in the same house. To be certain that metal roofs give many advantages such as durability, energy efficiency, and lightweight and various designs and styles. When I had a home renovation project two years ago, I hired one of the best metal roofing companies near me and I found another benefit with metal roofs that it can also be laid on the top of the existing without having to take away the existing roof which will reduce labor cost. Let’s check out some of these advantages in more detail.

Cost Benefits from Thermal Efficiency Is Not Similar for most Climates
Metal Roof coating can easily reflect the sun light and thus maintain the house cool throughout summer. This Thermal efficiency will help homeowners with reducing utility bill. In most warm regions this cost benefits alone can pay for the initial cost of the roof in about 10-15 years. But, it is actually worth saying that thermal efficiency features of metal roofs are perfectly made real in high-temperature regions.

The Design and style
today you will discover numerous types of roofs which are stylish. Although you know about design and style in roofing, it is crucial that you do not make your choice purely depending on style as the roof is not the most appealing part of your house. It is said that most of homeowners are amazed more with the style and design of the bathrooms, interior, flooring, kitchen, and exterior of the property than the design and style of the roof.

Lasting quality
Among all the amazing benefits mentioned earlier, the most essential is lasting quality. Metal roofs usually last 30 -80 years if good maintenance is performed. That is why many industrial and commercial building prefer using metal roof than other types of roof.

Metal roofs are great investments and it will depend on many different factors such as the local climate where your property is situated along with the duration you plan to live in your existing home.

Benefits of Vinyl Siding in Connecticut

khghkgVinyl siding is quite affordable in Connecticut, particularly when homeowners think about other materials which are commonly used for siding. Typical options of aluminum and wood often cost almost twice as much every time they are used to completely finish the exterior of a home.

Homeowners with a minimum budget usually make this siding their ultimate decision for their house. Because of its sturdiness, homeowners will not be confronted with costly maintenance bills and are free to use their money for other renovations. Another benefit associated with the cost of vinyl is its elastic resistance to mold, mildew, or insects and it will not be affected by rotting like wooden siding.

You can find a wide selection of vinyl colors from which to select in Connecticut, or even more attractive is the wide selection of patterns. Through the advantages of vinyl sidings, houses can even have the look and style of stone walls, log cabin, or many different styles of siding made of vinyl.

Although such selections are a bit more expensive compared to the standard siding , vinyl siding price is more reasonable compared to the stone, wood, aluminum and shingles and requires less time for installation . The various styles and patterns of vinyl siding can also be integrated into many different architectural designs and styles.

The industry has manufactured quality standards for colors retention, thickness, and capabilities to stand up against elements of weather condition such as hot sun, high winds, and hard rains. Research is repeated over time to drive the product toward a higher quality to provide homeowners the finest product available for purchase and yet maintain a cheap siding price.

With today’s massive focus on going green, vinyl siding Connecticut is more cost effective; it is also environmentally friendly. Due to its light weight, relocating it from the factory to location needs less fuel. Sidings such as wood or metal need more than twice as much energy to spend both for manufacturing and transporting it to another location.

Creating outdoor bathing privacy with Hot tub enclosures

jkljHot tub enclosures are a good way to enhance the overall look of your hot tub, Jacuzzi or spa . You will find numerous ways to beautify your bathing facility, but one of the most recommended ones is to install a Hot tub enclosure. Especially when you have an outdoor hot tub or spa, an enclosure not just enhances your tub’s look but also covers it from outdoor elements, thereby, significantly minimizing damage.

When you decide to install an enclosure for your outdoor hot tub, you may improve it based on your personal taste and style. You will discover numerous tub enclosure sets available on the market which come in so many designs and styles. However for homeowner who would like to include particular personal touch, there are actually many guidelines to assist you in making that hot tub beautiful.

Installing hot tub enclosures is very useful in Jacuzzi and spa. It can be used as walls that wrap around your tub to enable you to enjoy privacy with your bathing experience and also having the possibility to get pleasure from a wonderful outdoor atmosphere. Another way is by installing open-air roofing upon the hot tubs. Doing this helps you enjoy bathing with rain or sunshine.

Also inflatable hot tubs can be put under the enclosures. Installing easy-to-assemble enclosures will highlight the inflatable tubs whenever and wherever you are. If you like traveling a lot, having an inflatable tub with accompanied by enclosures allow you to keep the privacy throughout the outdoor bathing experiences.

If you want to install hot tub enclosures in the backyard, you must try to match the enclosure with the entire design of your home, tub, garden, or backyard. This is crucial so it will not look odd or unappealing in your house. Some of the widely used themes for hot tub enclosures are Greco-Roman, Art Deco and Modern. So where can you get hot tub enclosures? You may begin searching at home improvement store around you. Also small home remodeling stores will offer a huge number of hot tub enclosures which can meet your personal taste.

You will also find that there are a lot of styles on the market such as hot tub enclosures with open and closed side walls. The design you select is dependent on the place of the hot tub. When you have the outdoor hot tub, it is very important to consider privacy as well as the prevention of dirty particles dropping into the water. You should also carefully consider how hassled you might be by insects which can mess up your comfort in the hot tub.

Shopping online is highly recommended in order to show you more designs and models you want. Many brands which offer a huge selection of bathing furniture also have online brochures. So, take some time to go through the offered selections and examine objective consumer opinions to help you determine whether that product is a good or not to buy.

Getting Your Exterior Foundation Wall Fixed

People who live in older homes will often have to deal with cracks that form in the exterior of the foundation. This is an issue that you need to deal with as soon as possible. The reason why cracks need to be repaired quickly is that water could start to get into these cracks. That water will eventually find its way into your house. This is why many houses have problems with water leaking into their basements. Here is what you will need to do if you need to have some repair work done on your home’s exterior foundation wall.1. Talk to people who have needed to get exterior foundation repair work done on their home.

It would be in your best interests to seek out people who have already dealt with a contractor to fix their exterior foundation wall. Have these people tell you about the entire process of looking for a contractor. How did they decide upon the contractor they eventually hired? Were they satisfied with the work that the contractor did? How long did they need to wait to get an appointment with the contractor? How much did the complete job cost? The answers they give you will help to narrow down your list of potential contractor candidates.

2. Another great place to gather contractor info is the Better Business Bureau site.

The BBB can always be counted on to give you info about local contractors that is totally accurate. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by spending some time reading the BBB site. You will be able to discover which contractors in your area are the most reputable. You will be able to find a contractor who can perform Dupage County crawl space repair.

3. Get estimates from as many local contractors as possible.

Your foundation might have many cracks that need to be repaired. If so, the job could be quite expensive. This is why it is so important for you to find out what all of your options are. Getting many estimates will save you some cash. It is just common sense.