March 25, 2011
Saving America's Great Watersheds One Yard at a Time
Greener Plants Concept Takes Root
(HAMPTON ROADS, VA)—An initiative by a Virginia nursery developed with the support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is taking root, as the garden industry, watershed protection groups, and the public push to improve water quality through a movement that starts in the homeowner's yard.
Following years of commitment to responsible growing practices that promote water conservation and reduce pollution and runoff, Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia in late 2010 launched its Greener Plants® initiative. Grown under an award-winning nutrient management plan and methods that minimize impact on the environment and Chesapeake Bay, the nursery is using its Greener Plants concept towards a larger goal: The aim is to encourage consumers to adopt environmentally responsible growing practices at home that will help clean up and preserve America's watersheds. A 2010 Gallup Poll showed that a majority of Americans would prefer to buy environmentally friendly products.
"From in the yard, to streams, rivers, bays and the ocean, better growing care at home will help generate an improved water environment for all," says Nick Covatta, co-owner of Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia. "This will also help the gardening industry as more people seek ways to be better stewards at a local level. We expect this to increase demand for Greener Plants® and the products that go with them, such as soaker hoses, mulch, slow-release fertilizer and products to reduce water usage and runoff. Business is up this year in general as a more positive outlook grows throughout the economy. We've seen a lot of additional and new orders over 2010."
To help consumers grow more responsibly, Eastern Shore Nursery has launched the www.greenerplants.com website to provide consumers with a wide range of educational information and instruction. The full line of Greener Plants® will be available starting in spring 2011, including the nursery's Hollybrook Orchards® initiative of fruit trees, berries and nuts.
What began with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed is capturing the interest and support of a range of environmental groups and the garden center industry. The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Massachusetts Watershed Coalition, Mullica River Watershed Coalition, Friends of Bombay Hook, Potomac Riverkeeper, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Lynnhaven River Now and the Elizabeth River Project are among the organizations whose websites will soon be posted links on greenerplants.com. Stauffers of Kissel Hill garden centers and supermarkets are among the many garden centers from North Carolina to Illinois to Maine that will carry Greener Plants®.
"Our customers are passionate about gardening and the environment, that's why we are now selling Greener Plants®," says Jere Stauffer for Stauffers. "The Eastern Shore Nursery's focus on water conservation and recycling places them in a leadership position in the industry. Their products will carry the new plant tag calling out the advantages of their green initiatives. These plants will help bring a better awareness to homeowners on what they can do in their own yard to improve America's great watersheds. This is a great connection with the local Lititz Run Riparian Project and its watershed here in Lancaster County."
Eastern Shore Nursery owners have long been practicing what they preach, including recycling irrigation water, trickle irrigation of trees, using slow-release fertilizer and grading their production fields so that the runoff stays on their farm and does not flow into the streams and creeks running into the Chesapeake Bay. The irrigation water source is precipitation and surface aquifers in the top 15 feet of soil, all of which is non potable water. Native grasses, woods and vegetation have been left undisturbed to filter runoff from the nursery. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, whose mission is to "Save the Bay," worked side by side with Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia as they developed environmentally responsible practices. CBF and Eastern Shore Nursery's shared vision is featured on the nursery's Greener Plants® tags.
"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauds Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia as a model plant grower for managing nutrients in a manner that protects water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay," says William C. Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "As one of the first nurseries in Virginia to implement a Certified Nutrient Management Plan and for being recognized for their water conservation, Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia's efforts to grow plants in an environmentally responsible manner serve as a model for the entire plant nursery industry."
Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia was established in 1966 in Keller, Virginia on the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay. The wholesale nursery grows more than 400 varieties of trees and shrubs for garden centers, re-wholesalers and landscapers from North Carolina to Illinois to Maine. The nursery is owned and operated by Covatta and his wife Robin Rinaca, along with partner Mark Hopkins.