Four of us just got back from the winter meeting of the Green Works- the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association. Our landscaping department at Middlebury won the Grand Honor Award for 2009 forLandscape and Garden Commercial Maintenance. We submitted picutures and a narrative shortly before Thanksgiving last year, and a panel of 6 industry professionals and landscape architects met in December. Projects were judged according to difficulty, proper horticultural practices, craftsmanship, and contributions to the quality of sustainability to the environment.
Green Works/Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association is a non-profit, statewide organization representing Vermont’s garden centers, greenhouses, landscapers, landscape designers and architects, nurseries, arborists, plant maintenance experts, turf care and irrigation specialists, horticultural educators and researchers, and other plant professionals. For more information visit http://www.greenworksvermont.org/. (small disclaimer-I am jsut stepping down from being president of this organization for three years, but had nothing to do with the contest, and none of the judges knew of my involvement )
Our department was recognized by the judges not only on the outstanding job the crew does on maintaining the extensive grounds here at Middlebury, but for some of landscape planting and environmental initiatives we are underakting. the justdges coments were included, “Good beginning ato sustainability systems”, “..no-mow meadows are a common sense, sustainable practice.”, “”excellent maintenance of site as concerns public”, and “for size of campus attention to detail good”.
I can’t begin to tell you all how happy I am we were recognized by the green industry in Vermont. While I am the one with the big mouth blog, it is really the dedication of all 12 individuals in our department that make the Middlebury campus as spectacular as it is. They are the hardest working guys I know, and it is a great honor and pleasure to work alongside them on a daily basis.
Below are the 12 pictures we submitted to the judges, along with the description provided, as well as the project narrative written as well. Enjoy.
Our main campus is over 200 acres, with over 75 acres in lawn, 89 acres of athletic fields, 21 acres of parking lots, 16 miles of sidewalks, and 4 miles of roads. The landscape department is 15 people, with 3 dedicated to the athletic fields, and the remaining tasked for the main campus.
All of our grounds maintenance is done in house, including lawn mowing, fall cleanup, new plantings, and snow removal in the winter. We maintain an urban forest of over 2300 trees, including the northeast’s largest heritage Elm collection. (Elms maintained with help from Bartlett Tree Experts, Manchester, Vermont) Much of the tree care is done in house, including fertilization and pruning. New seeding and sod is done by our department as well.
Recently, all new plantings, including tree replacement and landscaping around new construction and renovations are done in house. Landscape design work is done in house, occasionally with help from Landscape Architects for sidewalk and other hardscaping. Plant material is purchased locally.
Our college prides itself on its environmental leadership, and the landscape department is no exception. We’ve recently begun a ‘no-mow program’, where 20 acres of lawn was chosen to let go, in effort to begin a more natural meadow. This has saved over 1000 hours of labor, as well as over 700 gallons of fuel. Research this year has also shown an increase in plant diversity, pollinator and other insects, as well as wildlife. A student group has recently collected seeds from locally growing wildflowers, and these will be sown in a greenhouse in the spring and planted out into the no-mow meadows.
We have in place an Integrated Pest Management program, and have greatly reduced pesticide and herbicide use in the last 4 years. Invasive plants such as honeysuckle and buckthorn are actively removed from campus grounds, and all potentially invasive plants are not planted in new landscapes.
Due to the diverse population of our college, as well as the 24 hour nature of any institution such as ours, we have particular challenges to remove snow, and to get the sidewalks and roads bare as quickly and safely as possible. We use a de-icer product as a pretreatment on the roads and walks before a storm-this all natural material greatly reduces our use of salt as an ice melter, as well as reducing our fuel and energy use in snow removal, and results in safer surfaces with less impact to the environment.