The greenhouse and garden areas at main camp have been making a lot of headway in using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Our Garden Educational Manager, Alex Ritzheimer, is constantly looking for ways to improve upon programs and here are just a few of the “green” ways he practices what he preaches:
- Alex estimates 75%-80% of the compost he uses to make his soil mixtures for potting plants comes from Frost Valley’s own composting facility.
- During the summer, campers help to collect seeds from wildflowers and other plants to save for starting many plants for the following growing season.
- Pots are reused for different purposes rather than purchasing new ones.
- The greenhouse program has consistently practiced taking cuttings—or slips—from existing plants and rooting them so guests can re-pot them to take home. It is a sustainable way to grow new plants from flowers and ornamentals.
- Blankets are used on the intake and outtake fans during the coldest months of the year in order to reduce heat loss. Additionally, the greenhouse thermostat has been upgraded to a digital model that automatically opens and closes the louvers on the fans in a more efficient manner.
- Although the greenhouse has a lighting system, it is rarely turned on; instead staff rely on natural lighting to shine on the work area.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is used to help control harmful insects. What is IPM? It is simply the use of beneficial insects such as native ladybugs, lace wings and praying mantis to cut down on whiteflies, aphids and other harmful pests.
- In addition to IPM, the greenhouse and garden areas employ organic methods of ridding the plants of harmful pests such as hand picking Japanese beetles and spraying plants with organic Neem oil.
- The garden area has a drip irrigation system installed each spring to reduce the amount of water used during the growing season.
- The front entrance planting to Frost Valley is filled with native plants that are deer and mouse resistant and drought tolerant, requiring less resources to maintain.
While not an exhaustive list, it shows by purposely looking to come up with ways to eliminate loss of natural resources and use sustainable practices, the staff recognizes Earth Day as every day.