Monday, August 16, 2010

Rain Gardens at Billings Farm Museum

Why they are valuable when it hasn’t rained

Why build a rain garden when it hasn’t rained? Actually, during a dry period is when rain gardens are most valuable. Heavy downpours create a surplus of rain water that runs off causing erosion and silted waterways. Rain gardens trap the water and disperse it slowly. They can solve driveway washouts, road flooding, and roof gutter water dispersal. Plus, they help retain water for vegetative growth during dry spells. This is a creative way to conserve water quality and save money with the added enjoyment of attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and other native wildlife. Join Elaine Grehl, M.S. Public Horticulture, on Monday, September 13, 2010, 9:30-11:30 AM, at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, as she explores the mechanics, science, and design of these clever solutions to stormwater management. During this 90 minute presentation, you will learn the ins and outs of rain garden technology including proper sighting, design, and installation methods. Each participant will be given a list of resources to help them create a rain garden on their own property. This event is sponsored by Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District which will also have available garden and pasture soil tests and information on invasive plants and rain barrel construction. Local food snacks will be served. $10 admission fee. Please contact or 802-436-2266 for more information.

Instructor: Elaine Grehl holds a BS in Landscape Horticulture from Michigan State University and an MS in Public Horticulture from the Longwood Gardens Graduate Program at the University of Delaware. She has experience as a landscape foreman, landscape designer, general manager of a production greenhouse and garden center, and natural resource technician. Elaine designed and installed one of the nation’s first public demonstration rain gardens on the campus of the University of Delaware.

Events from The Sustainable Woodstock side of town

Naked Table Lunch

Friends and supporters of Sustainable Woodstock are invited to reserve a place for this delectable event -- held on Sunday, August 22, 1:00 p.m., under the Covered Bridge by the Green in Woodstock Village. Food for the event will be prepared from locally produced products by the Woodstock Inn and Prosper Community Club. Tickets are $35 and proceeds support Sustainable Woodstock. Sign up now: reservations are going fast! Call 802-672-5175 or email Charlie Shackleton (

Energy Action
This fall Sustainable Woodstock will start a community-wide initiative focused on energy, "Use Less, Make More." We are just in the planning stages, but one idea is to hold a large-group meeting, like the "Our Green Villages" event that we had in April 2009, to develop an action plan to implement energy-saving changes in our homes and public buildings. Look for more information coming soon.

Town Hall energy audit
The Town of Woodstock has received a grant through Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission to conduct an energy audit of the Town Hall. The audit will be conducted by Zero by Degrees from Burlington. They have offered to involve 6-10 volunteers as helpers and observers in the audit process. Volunteers receive training at the start of the session and then help collect the data. It will take about 5 to 6 hours on a Saturday in the fall. It turns out to be very educational for everyone. Any takers? Contact Chris Miller (
Community Gardens Workshop
Sustainable Woodstock Community Gardens presents a workshop in preserving and canning taught by Ellen Terie at Shepherd's Hill Farm in Taftsville on Monday, August 16 at 6:00 pm. Bring your pen, notepad and lots of questions! Look for workshops on fermenting food in September and worm composting in November.

Local First
Local First is kicking off a new campaign and needs help recruiting Woodstock area businesses, non-profits and individuals as team members in strengthening the local and regional economies. We are partnering with the Local First Alliance of Vital Communities in this important effort. Contact Jill Davies ( to get involved.

Rain Garden Workshop
Why build a rain garden? Learn more about this environmentally conscious way to control and retain water for vegetative growth during dry spells, as well as to attract native wildlife. Join Elaine Grehl, M.S. Public Horticulture, on Monday, September 13, 9:30-11:30 am, at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park, as she covers the ins and outs of rain garden technology, including proper siting, design, and installation methods. This event is sponsored by Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District, which will have available garden and pasture soil tests and information on invasive plants and rain barrel construction. Local-food snacks will be served. $10 admission fee. For more information, email Sue Greenall ( or call 802-436-2266.

Transition Town Discussion
Regional Transition Towns and other sustainability groups are sponsoring a training by Transition Town facilitator, Tina Clarke, tentatively scheduled for September 26. Tina has acknowledged that organizations like SW and TTs are on parallel tracks and can benefit from mutual discussions. We also see this as an opportunity to get to know our area sustainability groups. Fee for the day-long workshop is $100 and is open to anyone. If you think you might be interested in attending, please let me know (

Upcoming Events
August 16, Monday: Community Gardens workshop, Canning and Preserving techniques, Shepherd's Hill Farm, Taftsville, 6 pm.
August 21-22, Saturday and Sunday: Naked Table weekend, Shackleton Thomas, Bridgewater
August 22, Sunday: Naked Table Lunch, on the Middle Covered Bridge, Woodstock, 1:00 pm; reservations required; call 802-672-5175 or email Charlie Shackleton (
August 30, Monday: Woodstock Energy Committee, Woodstock Town Hall meeting room, 5:30 pm
September 7, Tuesday: SW Local First, Simmons House, 1:00 pm
September 13, Monday: Rain Garden workshop, Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Park, 9:30 am