E-News December 2009

                             In this issue                                                                          
         *NOFA Update Course           *Letter to the Editor 
         *A Call for Volunteers            *Also of Interest
         *Re-accreditation Alert          *Current Credit Opportunities

                                    *Opportunities for AOLCPs     *NOFA Standards Review         
*AOLCPs in Action            
update_courseThank you 2009 Update Course participants!

More than 200 people came to
this year's Update Course on December 8th in Sturbridge, MA.  Based on your NOFA OLC logoevaluations, it was an educational success and a rewarding celebration of the OLC Program's 10th Anniversary.  The founding and current members of the Organic Land Care Committee greatly appreciate your continuing commitment to organic land care.
Thanks so much  for being an attentive audience. Congratulations to Acorn pin recipients, who have maintained their accreditation for five or more years. A special thanks goes out to Priscilla Williams who gave a wonderful speech about the history of the Organic Land Care Program.  Congratulations to Bill Duesing, Mike Nadeau, and Kim Stoner, recipients of the Environmental Service Award.

OLC Members:  Priscilla Williams, Kim Stoner,

Michael Nadeau, Bill Duesing          

Course Follow-up...

Here are links to articles by Kevin Smith, that relate to his presentation:
Are trees long-lived?
Abstract: Trees and tree care can capture the best of people's motivations and intentions. Trees are living memorials that help communities heal at sites of national tragedy, such as Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center. We mark the places of important historical events by the trees that grew nearby even if the original tree, such as the Charter Oak in Connecticut or the Wye Oak in Maryland, has been lost.

Disposable Landscapes

Abstract: Whether we are a traditionalist or on the cutting edge of landscape care, we need to take a deep breath and think about what we are trying to achieve, before we select a specific treatment or practice for tree care. We should measure that treatment or practice against what we know about the tree system. I say "system" because the recent years of Modern Arboriculture (Shigo 1991) have demonstrated the value of seeing trees as responsive, integrated organisms and landscapes as living communities.

Plants' essential chemical elements
Every garden center and hardware store sells fertilizer guaranteed to "feed" plants. In a strict sense, we can't feed plants. Food contains an energy source. Green plants capture solar energy and make their own food through photosynthesis! Photosynthesis and other metabolic processes require chemical elements in appropriate doses for plants to survive and thrive. We can help, directly or indirectly, to provide plants these essential chemical elements.

Janice Thies offered to share some information and resources with you:
The Waste Management Institute 
at Cornell is a rich resource. For example, you can learn about Soil quality testing and a search for information on topics such as biological residuals and NPK will turn up articles of interest.

Bill Cullina's
latest book, Understanding Perennials--A New Look at an Old Favorite, sold out, except for one copy that we found after he left the Conference.  If you want to purchase that book, please email Carol.

The 2010 Update Course will take place on December 7, 2010 with Doug Tallamy as our Keynote Speaker. Location and more details to be announced.
volunteerA Call for Volunteers and Photos!

Your photo could be the next 2010 NOFA Guide to OLC cover!

It's that time of year again where we encourage all AOLCPs to submit photos for the 2010 Guide to Organic Land Care.  We are also in need of photos for the new NOFA OLC website scheduled to launch in March!  If you are interested in submitting your photos for use, contact Ashley for specs and instuctions on how to submit.

The Scene Has Changed... To What?

After the OLC update course on December 8, David Eggleton (OLC class of 2007, continuously accredited since then) initiated a comparison of the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care, 4th Edition and the recently released Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 of the Sustainable Sites Initiative.  David wants all AOLCPs and the OLC program administrators to soon share a familiarity with the new factor, which is a site rating system with four grades of recognition, because it may rapidly alter market dynamics.  The likelihood of its ability to do so arises from LEED, the building/development rating system of the U. S. Green Building Council, which it emulates.  David will continue the comparison on his own, but welcomes interested and true collaborators.  If you would like to participate in any phase or aspect of the project, please notify

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is also seeking site and landscape projects as pilot projects for the Sustainable Sites Initiative Rating System, released on November 5, 2009. Accepted pilot projects will be the first projects to demonstrate their application of The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009. Feedback will be used to revise the rating system and inform the technical reference manual. Download the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 here.  Projects may only be submitted online through February 15, 2010. Pilot projects will be selected to ensure a broad range of project types, sizes, budgets, geographic diversity and phase of development. The minimum project size is 2,000 square feet. For more information on the Pilot Program, please click here. For other questions or technical problems with the form below, please send an email.

NOFA Organic Land Care Accreditation Course
Please contact Kathy (Massachusetts), Ashley (Connecticut), Clara (New York), and/or Sheryl (Rhode Island) if you can help us get the word out by distributing brochures about the 5-day course or if you would like to serve as a volunteer at one of the courses.  Thanks for whatever you are able to do to promote this effort.

The 2010 Organic Land Care Accreditation Course will be offered in four states again this year.  Please encourage your friends and colleagues to "go organic" and call 203-888-5146 to register.
For more information, check out this brochure at the OLC website.

OLC Class Photo 09

January 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 2010
(Snow Date:  Jan. 21) - Newburyport, MA
Connecticut:  January 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 2010 (Snow Date: Jan. 29) - New Haven, CT
New York:  Feb. 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 2010 (Snow Date: Feb. 17) - Westchester County, NY
Rhode Island:  Feb. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 2010 (Snow Date: Feb. 27) - Providence, RI
reaccredSpeaking of sure to re-accredit for 2010!

If you attended the Update Course, you need only send your re-accreditation fee of $100 before the end of the year in order to re-accredit for 2010.  (We have a record of your attendance.)

If you earned credits at New England Grows in 2009, send Carol an email if you haven't already done so.

For all other approved events, you need to send a completed Re-accreditation form,
signed by the presenter, to CT NOFA, P.O.Box 164, Stevenson, CT 06491.

If you have any questions about re-accreditation requirements, check the OLC website.

The re-accreditation fee remains $100, but there is a $25 late fee after January 1, 2010.

Opportunities for AOLCPs

AOLCPs can join a photo group on  Flikr for LawnReform.  You can put some photos in this pool, which is available to the media and has the potential to get you market exposure.

NOFA Summer Conference Workshop Leaders Sought

Are you an expert at what you do? Would you like to share your knowledge with participants at the NOFA Summer Conference, happening Aug. 13-15, 2010 at UMass Amherst in Amherst, MA? We are looking for AOLCPs interested in teaching various methods of organic land care for the special OLC track at the Summer Conference. Creative ideas welcomed! Please email or call
Kathy Litchfield at (413) 773-3830 with your workshop ideas. Thanks very much

Volunteer at New England Grows 

you'd like to volunteer to staff the NOFA Organic Land Care Program table at New England Grows, Feb. 4-6, 2010, please email or call Kathy Litchfield at (413) 773-3830. We are also seeking AOLCPs of 3 years or more to staff a "Q&A with AOLCPs" panel during NE Grows, on Thursday Feb. 5th. Please let Kathy know if you're interested in participating.
actionAOLCPs in Action...


Massachusetts AOLCPs Donald Bishop and Michael Murray Partner with Ayer and Stoneham to Implement Grant-Funded Organic Lawn Demonstration Projects

BY KATHY LITCHFIELD - Two Massachusetts AOLCPs have embarked upon exciting and substantial  projects, highlighting the work of the NOFA Organic Land Care Program. Donald Bishop of Gardens Are. Inc. in Marlborough and Michael Murray, of Organic Soil Solutions Inc. in Woburn, are each working with municipalities to implement organic practices onto public lawn areas, thanks to a generous $10,000 grant awarded to NOFA/Mass from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Don Bishop-AyerIn Ayer, Bishop is working with Parks Supervisor Jeff Thomas to transition the lawns at Sandy Pond Beach to organic management. Sandy Pond is the town's public swimming area, renovated in 2006 into a park environment with basketball, volleyball, playground and picnic areas as well as new sod installed.

"Because the turf at Sandy Pond Beach abuts the town's main recreational body of water and users of the facility are often barefoot and lie on the grass, having organic lawn care will likely create more ideal conditions for both those who visit the park and those who use and live on Sandy Pond," said Thomas. The pond also suffers from thriving invasive aquatic weeds, and local residents are working with the Conservation Commission to limit the use of commercial fertilizers on homeowners' lawns in this area to help alleviate runoff, which they have stated is part of the problem.

 NOFA OLC logo

In Stoneham, Murray is working with Groundskeeper Rick Arzillo 

and DPW Deputy Manager Larry Brophy to implement organic

techniques at the center circle of the Town Common, surrounded by the Town Hall, Police Station and Fire Station. This circle is used year-round for special events including parades, road races, holiday events as well as for general recreation.


Arzillo said the project "is a great example, to show us what possible improvements this might make in our overall organic program. We'd like to continue in this direction and are happy to have

the help of a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional."


Both Thomas and Arzillo previously attended the NOFA Organic Lawn & Turf Course on full scholarships, again thanks to TURI, who awarded NOFA/Mass with two $1,000 grants in each of 2007 and 2008.


Two environmental groups, the Nashua River Watershed Association and the Greenscapes Program of the Massachusetts Bays Estuary Association, are also partnering on the grant to help with publicity and further their mission of protecting waterways from lawn chemical runoff and pollution.


Work began at both sites in October, with the application of compost topdressings, overseeding and the addition of humates/kelp on the two properties.  Next Spring, a public kick-off ceremony at each site will highlight the work done and promote organic land care at the municipal and homeowner levels.


As part of the grant, a customized homeowner's brochure will be created describing the benefits of organic lawns, listing websites for resources and listing the local AOLCPs. A "tool kit" will also be created, detailing the overall project, to be used by other municipalities wishing to do organic lawn demonstration projects.

The grant is being coordinated by Kathy Litchfield, OLC Program Coordinator for NOFA/Mass.

For more information about the Organic Lawn Demonstration Projects, email or call Kathy at (413) 773-3830.

The TURI Community Program strives to help organizations raise awareness of the hazards of toxic chemical use and introduce safer alternatives within their neighborhoods. It supports the work of many community organizations by providing grants, training, education and outreach on toxic use reduction methods, alternatives and resources. For more information on TURI, visit or contact Joy Onasch at (978) 934-4343 or


letterLetter to the Editor
Update Course Content 

It was great to see you this past week and you folks did a wonderful job organizing matters. However, as I enjoyed Professor Janice Thies from Cornell and her Bio Char Science discussion I was deeply and unfortunately disgruntled with the talk by Cornell student  who's name is not listed working on her thesis.  She fed the entire group propaganda with the presentation on the " pragmatist versus opposition to Bio Char.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is one of my personal mentors and has been a proponent for the Organic economic and social agriculture movement for many years world wide. Now people who were not familiar with her work might view her under negative light due to the Cornell student propaganda.  Sounds to me that the wisdom of Dr. Shiva comes clear with what could be if Bio Char falls into the wrong hands with the global marketplace, Officially I am not an opponent of Bio Char as mitigation to climate change or soil ameliorant.

Let that be said. My concerns are far bigger picture than that and I might consider with more data for my organic farm in the future.

Small scale on farm possibly however, if Bio Char becomes deregulated it could cause greater harm to farmers around the world and I think Dr. Shiva has had much experience and as I said wisdom with this.   As some people put it in class discussion "Until we fix the waste stream problem " can we talk about the issues brought forth by this Cornell student.

Thanks for reading my concerns and once again it was great seeing you folks . Other than that part of the course I truly enjoyed all aspects of our schooling. Physiologist and tree expert Kevin Smith was fabulous He has a great sense of humor  and Bill Cullina what can I say except that I love microbiology and his microscopic photography is fascinating. I enjoyed the other speakers and commend all organizing efforts on the part of you and your staff.

Hope you have a great holiday,

Rebecca Lipton, Fresh Idea Organic Land Care Management

We invite you to continue this discussion.  Comments can be sent to Ashley for inclusion in our next e-news or on our website. 

Rebecca also recommended the following links:

interest Also of Interest...

Make a Difference:  Report Pesticide Impacts on Wildlife and the Environment!
There is a new reporting mechanism online, and it was designed be quick and easy for busy professionals.  This new portal from the National Pesticide Information Center is intended for pesticide incidents that affect wildlife and the environment. You are encouraged to report such incidents at this website.

Articles of interest

Here is an interesting article on the Permaculture Course (a credit opportunity) being offered by Cynthia and Stuart Rabinowitz in Bethlehem, CT.

And here are links to additional articles one on Leaf Mulching

and another, entitled "Save Time and Money and Have a Greener Healthier Yard."

credit_oppCurrent AOLCP Credit Opportunities

January 1: Postmark Deadline for Re-accreditation for 2010

January 5-26: Botany for Gardeners - Stockbridge, MA
January 6-27: Designer Tool Kit I - Observation & Analysis - Stockbridge, MA
January 7 - 28: The Business of Horticulture - Stockbridge, MA
January 13-14: Native Landscape Design - Villanova, PA
January 13-14, 2009: CNLA Winter Symposium - Wallingford, CT
Jan.15 - Nov. 22: Permaculture Design Course -Shelburne Falls MA
January 15-16: Native Landscape Design - New London, CT
January 16: Winter Botany-Whately, MA
January 19: Spirit: Garden Inspiration - Cambridge, MA
January 20: Winter Lawn Care Conference - Sturbridge, MA
January 23: Pruning in Winter - Cambridge, MA
January 28-29: CT Grounds Keepers Assoc. Turf & Landscape Conference - Uncasville, CT
January 30: Native Seed Propagation Workshop - Whately, MA

standardsNOFA Standards Review

Consult NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care for guidance on the characteristics of well-decomposed or finished compost and a caution on herbicide contamination of compost. Here are a couple of excerpts from those pages, with the suggestion that you follow the above link to the Standards in order to review the entire entry on Compost found on pp. 21-23.

"Improperly composted organic matter that has gone anaerobic (or putrified) may contain compounds toxic to plants and may have offensive odors from production of ethanol, ammonia or hydrogen sulfides.  Check with your compost supplier for evidence of proper quality control to avoid this problem.  Under specific conditions, anaerobic compost may be used to create proper growing media for wetland plants." (p. 21)

"Be aware of [herbicide contamination] hazards, discuss them with your compost suppliers, and ask them if they have conducted bioassays on any potentially contaminated materials.  For more information, see the magazine BioCycle.  Review articles are posted on their website. (p. 22)

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