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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Growing Community: Greenhouse Update

Growing Community

Making progress in the Ivy Street Community Garden Greenhouse Project

By Kimberly Langin, Community Engagement VISTA Member

This past week has been very eventful for the Ivy Street Community Garden Greenhouse Project! The Groundbreaking Ceremony took place on Wednesday, October 16th and was well attended by city officials, residents, community partners, and the Ivy Street Community Garden gardeners. Starting off the day’s event was Erik Johnson of the Livable City Initiative (LCI). Erik then introduced Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., who poignantly noted that “what’s growing here is not only vegetables; it’s community.”



The mayor was followed by Delphine Clyburn, Alderwoman for Ward 20, Jim Paley, Executive Director of NHS, Stephen Cremin-Endes, Community Building Specialist at NHS, Velma George, LCI Neighborhood Specialist for Dixwell, Newhallville, & East Rock and Greenhouse Committee Chair, Mrs. Ida Felder, community gardener and next door neighbor to the garden, and Yolanda Jones-Generette, Principal of Lincoln Bassett school, which is across from the Ivy Street Community Garden. Everyone expressed their excitement to see this innovative project underway. Attendance at the event was incredible – we packed an impressive amount of people around those garden plots!


 Mrs. Jones-Generette concluded the ceremony by introducing the Lincoln Bassett School Choir, who shared their talents with us by singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “God Bless America,” with the crowd joining in.


The event was a great success and we have experienced quite a bit of new interest in the project!


The United Way of Greater New Haven was kind enough to pair Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven with the Walsh Construction Company—PCL Joint Venture II for their "Days of Caring" event.


The company has donated their time, skills, materials, and resources to the greenhouse project. Following the Groundbreaking Ceremony, Walsh Construction Company—PCL Joint Venture II formed and poured the footing of the greenhouse. Waiting a day for it to cure, the group removed the footing forms on Friday.


The volunteers spent the next day laying the 30x15 foot, 8 inch thick foundation for the installation of the greenhouse, formed the greenhouse walls, and poured the concrete for the walls.

 
This Monday, the 21st, the group removed the wall forms and did some final clean up before backfilling will occur next week by Lior Excavating, LLC, who also did the initial excavation of the site prior to the pouring of the foundation.
 
A great big thank you to Sean Bush, project manager for the Walsh Construction Company—PCL Joint Venture II, his crew, and Jan McCray-Price of the United Way of Greater New Haven for all of their energy, hard work, and dedication, without which this project would not have been possible!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Loving Your House: Love Note #2

Loving Your House: Love Note #2

(Helpful hints for homeowners and homeowners-to-be)

By Henry Dynia, Director of Design and Construction

In Loving your House Love Note #1 last winter, we talked about carefully planning work with regard to season, scope, materials, and available time and monetary resources. We are now in the waning days of the warm season and are heading into the cooler, windy, wetter weather of fall and winter. The days that are favorable to many exterior maintenance projects are limited!

If you plan for these projects in the spring, you will either be ready to finish them or squeeze them in during the remainder of the nice weather. Remember, the days may be warm but the nights can be 30 or 40 degrees cooler. Blowing leaves can stick to paint, and wet leaves can stain your prepared surfaces.
 
It is important to think about how you want to put your landscape to sleep for the winter. We are now in a dry period, with rainfall about 8” below normal for this region. Plants, especially evergreens, will not fare well over the winter with dry roots. Because these plants retain their leaves or needles, there is some transpiration taking place in winter, although more slowly. If wind and sun suck all the moisture out, the plant will become “desiccated” and decline or die. This can be avoided by mulching and watering the plant before winter so that the root zone is saturated and has plenty of free water to draw upon. Ground-up leaves are great for this purpose because they contribute to the overall health of the soil. Huge mountains of leaves can prevent moisture from getting to the soil, so don’t overdo it! Two to four inches is plenty. The mulch insures that the moisture that is put there stays there and is not quickly evaporated by the sun and wind.

Mulch also helps to retain any additional moisture from rain or snow and to some degree acts as insulation against extreme cold. An additional step that could be taken to insure that your plants come back strong in the spring is to spray them just before the onset of freezing weather with an anti-desiccant, such as Wilt Pruf®, which is an Elmer’s Glue-like substance that helps to keep moisture in the plant.

It is a good practice to identify weak or broken branches that may come down from heavy snow or ice. Try to anticipate which long, spindly branches on your shrubs and trees may break under additional weight and wind. Usually a portion of the end of such a branch can be removed to make the remainder less vulnerable to breakage.
 
Leaf collection is often regarded as a tiresome, thankless job that produces no great result. It is time to GET EXCITED about leaf collection. Grass should not be left too long over the winter, and, contrary to their name, leaves should not be left on the grass, because this could foster molds and lawn diseases. The best way to deal with leaves on the grass is to mow over them, slowly rounding them up in a pile, and then mowing the pile. This will reduce the bulk by two thirds or more. All the small crumbs that stay in the grass will help to build the soil. The remainder of the pile of ground-up leaves can be spread on shrub and garden beds or stored for later use. These ground-up leaves will foster earthworm growth and are like gold for your garden. Once you see the benefits, you will asking your neighbors to give you their leaves!
 
Have you prepared your heating system for the winter? An annual check-up by a heating professional is a good idea. You should give your system a trial run during a cool night. Remember, heating professionals will be tough to come by, once it gets cold. Be sure that the serviceable portions of the system that you can manage are attended to, such as changing filters and cleaning radiators and registers. If you are interested in learning more about your home's heating system, feel free to attend our heating workshop on October 16.
 
Usually the biggest bang for the weatherization buck is improving the energy performance of the building envelope. This means sealing up air leaks and improving insulation. What can be done in any one house is variable and should be tailored to the particulars of that building. Consultation with energy specialists, such as utility-based programs for homeowners, energy raters, or insulation contractors, can help steer a homeowner to the wisest course of action. One size does not fit all when it comes to energy conservation strategies. The homeowner is in the driver's seat and needs to learn how to steer!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013