The BOATanists had a great day assembling all their gear and Ecotype plants on the outrigger canoes and began their expedition “paddlin’ for the pollinators” embarking from Enfield, CT to a remote island just above Hartford. We are excited to talk to the folks attending tomorrow’s MakeFest at the Connecticut Science Center, showing them how to make “native Ecotype Seed balls” and the importance of planting local pollinator habitats to rewild our landscapes and ensure local food security!

Observations from this part of the corridor: the river is abuzz with a symphony of happy insects. Solidago is in bloom and dragonfly’s are flying about. The river is low this time of year but a dam release increased the flow rate. There is a nice riparian buffer along the river where you seldom see human development. Tomorrow we are sure will be different as we paddle to the largest city along a river in Connecticut.

Stay tuned for more expeditions updates over the next five days. Thanks for following along.

We at CT NOFA have been thinking a lot this year about what defines us – what makes us uniquely deserving of your support.  What always rises out of our conversations is that we are farmer-led, practical, adventurous, innovative.  At our best, what makes “organic” and “regenerative” special is that it gives more than it takes, sows more than we reap. We are on a mission to leave this Earth more beautiful and abundant than we found it.  And we like to have a good time doing it.  With our current pandemic putting a hold on our ability to gather and gala or feast – we are still itching to celebrate – to show how much we, the organic farmers, gardeners, landscapers, and advocates, can do for the land, the forests, and rivers and sea that gives so much to us.

CT NOFA has again joined forces with BOATanical and its powerhouse leader Sefra Levin, to launch this years’ expedition along the Quinnehtukqut (CT) River. Connecticut is named after an Alquonian term that references the place of the long tidal river. This river corridor has been a causeway of transport for flora, fauna, wind, weather, and the ancestral caretakers of these lands.

The fate of our organic farms and gardens is inextricably tied to the health of the ecosystem that surrounds them.  With that in mind, on September 17th, CT NOFA and BOATanical will launch an expedition of farmers and seed-keepers to paddle the length of Connecticut along the river from Enfield to the Long Island Sound.  The team will be planting native plant habitats, sowing restoration seed, and stopping to talk to groups about CT NOFA’s programs:

  • The Ecotype Project – our effort to fortify the Northeast by building biodiversity with pollinator habitats and a native plant supply chain
  • Farmer Circles – a refabrication of a practical and powerful regional support system among farmers.   This trip is not without its hardships and its hazards – and we are asking for your support.
  • Soil Health education – on the essential work of carbon drawdown with healthy soils.
  • Organic Land Care Program – extending the vision and principles of organic agriculture to the care of landscapes where people carry out their daily lives.
  • Winter Conferences, Landscaper Conferences, and Seed Conferences

This year when you consider your donation to CT NOFA, consider this- when our “boatanists” plant one seed, the next year or two one can harvest thousands of seeds from that single plant. The ‘return on investment’ that you get with Nature is extraordinary.  With that as our vision for change, our goal is to make our NOFA programs/resources available to as many people as possible in the upcoming year.

The donation that you make will provide more farmers with the building blocks they need to help safeguard the biological resilience of our region, create access for beginning farmers to the education and resources and community that they will rely on as their careers progress, and support the innovative work on climate change that has defined CT NOFA over the last 40 years.

In 2020 we paddled from New Hampshire to the Massachusetts border- in 2021 we will paddle from the top of Connecticut to the Long Island Sound, planting Founder Plots on farms and spreading the seeds of resilience. We hope you will follow along on our expedition this September.

 

Watch a recap of last year’s expedition through Massachusetts:

Donate to NOFA here

On Thursday, June 17 at 1:00 PM the Ecotype Project is honored to be presenting our work alongside six other regional native seed initiatives from around the globe at the Society for Ecological Restoration’s 9th World Conference on Ecological Restoration.
(this is a pre-conference workshop which you must be registered to attend)

The title of the workshop is:
W9: Networks and other strategies for developing regional native seed supply to meet restoration needs.
Join us to find out how other seed-based restoration initiatives are operating worldwide!
“This workshop will present and discuss a variety of native seed programs and initiatives and will provide information, models, and support to participants seeking to improve the supply of native seed in their region.”

“Ecological restoration initiatives are increasing in both number and scale globally. Native plant seed is the foundation of almost every ecological restoration project, and as the scale of restoration projects increases, so too the need for native seed is expected to grow. Restoration efforts regularly rely on the use of thousands of tons of native plant seed, requiring investments of hundreds of millions of US dollars. There is a global push to improve access to, and the supply of high-quality, biodiverse, and genetically appropriate seed to facilitate successful restoration outcomes. Ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality native plant seed from appropriate sources represents one of the most significant constraints facing restoration practitioners. This workshop will present lessons learned from ongoing efforts to establish seed supplies in various regions and at scales ranging from local to multinational. Presenters will talk about their network or initiative, what stage of growth they are in, and the key factors in their success, as well as lessons learned. They will include the political, financial, and cultural context of their seed program. Following the presentations, we will facilitate roundtable discussion with the intent of building collaborative connections and learning from each other’s experiences.”

The Ecotype Project is delighted to be included in the May/June 2021 publication of Connecticut Gardener magazine whose tagline is “because gardeners never stop learning.” Throughout our journey on this seed literacy project, we have consistently gained new insight into how we can efficiently support the amplification of native seed in our ecoregion of the northeast. What we do know, is the more gardeners, farmers and citizen scientists who are aware of this vital initiative to safeguard our “living seed banks” the more successful we will collectively be in reducing fragmentation across our shared landscapes and providing habitat for our friends the pollinators. 

CT Gardener Magazine Article

 

Sefra Alexandra, the Seed Huntress, has launched her canoe from the headwaters of the Connecticut River and is paddling with an extraordinary cargo.

Her trip is to honor The Ecotype Project, a program of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA). She is carrying with her hundreds of native plants, cultivated as a result of CT NOFA’s Ecotype Project, and will be planting “the right plants in the right place.” She is paddling to raise funds and raise awareness about the vital connectivity between our wilderness areas and our farmland. She is paddling for the pollinators. She is paddling to plant native plants and highlight the habitat restoration work that strengthens our rivers, our forests, and our food system.

She is asking that you join with her by supporting CT NOFA during this weeklong expedition. Donate here. She carries with her the flag for WINGS WorldQuest. WINGS recognizes and supports extraordinary women leaders in science and exploration. Sefra is also supported by the Patagonia PUPS program, Spartan Race, and Planter’s Choice Nursery. Any support you can give will make you a part of CT NOFA’s work strengthening our agrarian landscape.

Follow live updates from Sefra on CT NOFA’s Instagram account: @ctnofa

 

Wilton High School Plant Sale (click to order)

Our spring native wildflower sale was such a success that we’ve partnered with Planters’ Choice Nursery again for a bigger and better fall sale! These aren’t just any native wildflowers, they’re from CT NOFA’s Ecotype Project, which means that they have a genetic heritage native to Connecticut and can’t be found anywhere else. When you purchase and install these plants, you are reintroducing biodiversity into our landscapes and therefore supporting the ecosystem services that sustain us. There’s nothing more fulfilling.

Fall 2020 Sale Details

These plants are available by preorder only- order online then pick up on Saturday, September 12.

Plants come as plugs approximately 2.5″ wide x 5″ deep and must be ordered in groups of 4 per species.

Cost per plant: $2.50 with $1 going directly to support WHS Organic Garden’s programs and initiatives.

ORDERS ARE DUE BY Wednesday, September 2 at 11:59 pm   

Pick up will be Saturday, September 12 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm at The Hickories Farm (136 Lounsbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877). All pickup procedures will be strictly aligned with Connecticut’s COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions.

Payment Instructions

We take payment in the form of Cash or Check:

Checks must be made out to WHS ACTIVITY FUND
In the note on the bottom of the check please write “Plant Plugs”

Orders can be dropped off at the main entrance of Wilton High School with Kim Ely or mailed to Jim Hunter / Wilton High School 395 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT. 06897

 

Aspetuck Plant Sale (click to order)

Order by September 17th
-while supplies last-

Curbside pickup or delivery on September 26th and 27th!

To help homeowners plant ‘Native Plants’ in our local area we are happy to provide the tools listed below. We hope you are inspired!

  • Garden planting plans, kits, and plants for a variety of sun and soil conditions.

  • Delivery to your home is optional, a suggested donation of $20 is requested to cover costs.

  • Four of Aspetuck Land Trust’s Landscape Partners are standing ready to provide planting services for you, call one of them for a free estimate. Landscape Partners Link: HERE!

  • 50% of your purchase is tax-deductible and a tax receipt is provided.

Please note: The plants are native, locally grown at Planter’s Choice in Newtown. They are native to our region and have been carefully selected to attract our local pollinators and wildlife.

Native Garden Plans & Kits

$48 – $464

Garden kits include a detailed garden plan and every plant you’ll need to plant a beautiful native garden in a variation of sizes, sun types, and soil types – find the perfect garden plan for your yard! VIEW HERE!

Native Shrubs and Trees

Prices ranging from $8 – $76

Each shrub and tree is sold in a 1, 2, 3, or 6 gallon pot. There are 15 varieties of trees and 33 varieties of shrubs.

VIEW HERE!

Ecotype Project.jpg

Native Perennials

$24 for 8 plugs

These perennials are native to the area and have been carefully selected to attract our local pollinators and wildlife. The majority of the perennials are from the Ecotype Project! These plugs are sold in increments of 8 (16, 24.. etc).

VIEW HERE!


Instructions to process your purchase:

  1. Open an empty shopping cart; keep one shopping cart open and add to it as you navigate our site and find plants you’d like to buy!

  2. Enter all items you’d like to purchase.

  3. Be sure to include a ticket for either curbside pickup or delivery.

    • Curbside pickup on September 25th or 26th at Earthplace, 10 Woodside Lane, Westport, CT.
      Directions and a map will be provided in the lower right corner of your page during checkout.

    • Delivery to your home on September 25th or 26th suggested donation $20.
      A four-hour delivery window will be provided for your delivery.

  4. Follow the “Purchase” button at the bottom of the shopping cart when all items have been entered. The next page “Review your order” will open on your screen, please review your order in this screen to ensure that plants and quantities are correct. Quantities can be edited in this location prior to processing your payment.

  5. Your order total is summarized in the lower right hand of the “Review your order” page. If everything is correct click on “Continue to Your Info”.

  6. Follow the instructions in your confirmation email and receipt.

  • Those picking up will need to follow the link provided to Signup Genius and choose one available curbside pickup between 10 AM and 3:30 PM on September 26th & 27th. Pickup will be at Earthplace, 10 Woodside Lane, Westport, CT. Only one pickup time is needed per customer.

  • Those choosing delivery will need to follow the link provided to Signup Genius Delivery and provide the necessary delivery details. You will be provided with a four-hour delivery window via email the week of September 26th. Deliveries will be made between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

Please Note: A separate email will be sent for each item chosen (each ticket item purchased).

50% of your purchase price will be a tax-deductible gift to the Aspetuck Land Trust.
Delivery donations are fully tax-deductible. A tax receipt will be provided.

On June 6th and 7th, the Aspetuck Land Trust hosted their first native plant sale pickup at Gilbertie’s Organic Farm in Easton, Connecticut. This sale marks the culmination of two years worth of partnership and careful curating among botanists, farmers, nursery growers, and conservationists.  The Ecotype Project of CT NOFA (The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut)  is delighted to announce that their first round of “wild-collected seed, locally grown plants” was sold out at this event in just five days.  Many thanks go to Ecotype Project partners, Planter’s Choice Nursery and Highstead Arboretum.*   

 

There are now 176 more ecotype pollinator habitat “way-stations” along Aspetuck’s  Green Corridor.  3700 ecotype plugs and 371 native shrubs and trees were distributed to native plant stewards across Ecoregion-59

 

Each ecotype species sold was the offspring of seed wild-collected by expert botanists from our region and represents the local genetics of the native plants from our region.  Being truly “from here” means these plants have the best chance of persisting in our environment and adding resilience to our local ecosystem for years to come.  Aspetuck Land Trust’s sale followed two weeks after the Wilton High School championed the Ecotype Project with the sale and distribution of over 5,000 ecotypes into backyards and conservation sites across Connecticut and Massachusetts.

 

A single species of plant will have different genetic information based on the environment it evolved in.  These plants are from seeds harvested from local native plants. By planting these gardens, you will help these local plants thrive- not to mention, our lovely pollinators!

Simply plant, and watch the magic unfold.” – Mary Ellen Lemay- Director of Landowner Engagement – Aspetuck Land Trust

 

To help the customers understand how many plugs to purchase as well as how to implement, The Aspetuck Land Trust devised a plug-and-plant system complete with planting plans and directions of how to implement ecotypes on your landscape. Two of the offered packages for the ecotypes were the Pollinator Garden Kit and the Mailbox Garden Kit. ** To support gardeners who are unfamiliar with “plug planting,” Planter’s Choice Nursery worked with the Ecotype Project to create how-to instructions for gardeners.

 

The Pollinator Garden Kit 

Designed for a 5’ x 10’ space and included one flat of 32 plugs. 

 

The Mailbox Garden Kit 

Designed for 4’ x 4’ space as a perfect fit for the Aspetuck Land Trusts Green Corridor Partner mailbox signs and included half a flat of 16 plugs.

 

This plant sale directly supported the efforts of the Green Corridor Initiative of the Aspetuck Land Trust, which is creating  “a 40,000-acre Green Corridor that will extend through Fairfield, Westport, Weston, Easton, Wilton, and Redding. “The Green Corridor will protect, connect, and improve the ecological health of our region for all people and wildlife.” To all that purchased plants at this sale, thank you for helping to fortify our collective ecological corridor! 

 

CT NOFA is following in the footsteps of some leading conservation and farming organizations across the country championing “local ecotypes” in nursery crops and is proud to bring this forward-thinking movement to fruition in Connecticut. Join the Ecotype Project here and stay apprised of future Ecotype Project plant sales and events. 

 

*Funding for the Ecotype Project has been provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, US Dept of Agriculture, awarded and administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.  

 

**Drawings, planting plans & tables from Paige Lyons of Aspetuck Land Trust.  

 

PHOTOS:

The Aspetuck Land Trust 

Native/ Ecotype Plant Sale at Gilbertie’s Organic Farm in Easton, Connecticut

June 6th and 7th 2020