Water conservation is a crucial practice in home gardening, not only for environmental sustainability but also to reduce water bills and promote efficient plant growth. According to the Pew Research Center, “Over 2 billion people already lack access to safe drinking water at home, and by 2025 over half of the world’s population will reside in water-stressed areas. These numbers will increase significantly if climate change and population growth follow or exceed predicted trajectories.”
At Trellis for Tomorrow, we prioritize water conservation in all our garden sites, utilizing drip tape irrigation across all sites. In this blog post, we will discuss seven effective ways homeowners can water their gardens wisely by incorporating some water-saving techniques.
Install a Rainwater Collection System
One of the most effective ways to conserve water is by collecting rainwater. Set up a rain barrel or cistern to capture rainwater from your roof’s downspouts. We recommend using a mesh screen to filter debris and prevent mosquito breeding. You can then use this stored rainwater to irrigate your garden during dry spells, reducing reliance on potable water sources. You can find DIY instructions online or purchase ready-to-go rain barrels at a local garden supply center. Check out this locally made version that you can find at Colonial Gardens in Phoenixville or stop into the Eco Store on Bridge Street.
Embrace Drip Tape Irrigation
Drip tape irrigation is a highly efficient method that delivers water directly to the plants’ root zones, minimizing evaporation and runoff. Trellis for Tomorrow utilizes drip tape irrigation in all our garden sites, and homeowners can implement it too. Simply lay the drip tape along your garden rows and connect it to a water source. Drip tape conserves water by providing a slow and steady supply, ensuring plants receive precisely the amount they need. Check out this resource from Rain-Flo Irrigation.
Water Early in the Morning
To minimize water loss through evaporation, it’s best to water your garden early in the morning. By doing so, the water has time to soak into the soil before the sun’s heat intensifies, reducing waste and promoting efficient plant absorption. Watering in the evening can lead to prolonged leaf wetness, increasing the risk of disease.
Mulching around your plants provides several benefits, including water conservation. A layer of mulch helps retain soil moisture, reduces weed growth, and insulates the soil, preventing evaporation. We recommend using organic and undyed mulch such as wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves. Apply a 2–3-inch layer around your plants, leaving a small space near the stem to prevent rot.
Practice Smart Watering
Avoid overwatering your plants by practicing smart watering techniques. Before watering, check the soil moisture by inserting your finger into the soil. If it feels damp an inch below the surface, you can delay watering. Additionally, water deeply and infrequently encourages deeper root growth and drought tolerance. Shallow, frequent watering can lead to shallow roots and plant stress.
Group Plants by Water Needs
Efficiently manage water usage by grouping plants with similar water requirements together. Some plants require less water, while others, like leafy greens, need more. By arranging plants with similar water needs in the same area, you can avoid over or underwatering certain plants, ensuring optimal growth for all.
Capture and Reuse Household Water
In addition to rainwater collection, consider reusing household water to irrigate your garden. Collect water from abandoned cups and activities such as rinsing fruits and vegetables. This water can be used for watering plants or for irrigating with drip tape systems. Ensure the water does not contain harmful chemicals or contaminants.
Conserving water in home gardening is a responsibility we all share. By implementing these seven effective strategies, homeowners can contribute to a sustainable and efficient water management system. Trellis recommends using rainwater collection systems, drip tape irrigation, and other water-saving techniques to protect our environment and promote healthy, thriving gardens. Together we can make water conservation an integral part of gardening practices and pave the way for a greener future.
In today’s rapidly changing world, nonprofits play a crucial role in addressing societal challenges. These organizations rely not only on dedicated staff members but also on the support and involvement of community members.
One powerful way to contribute to the success of a nonprofit is by joining a committee. By offering your time, skills, and passion, you can make a profound impact on the organization’s mission and the community it serves. At Trellis for Tomorrow, we believe in the power of community engagement and encourage individuals like you to join us in creating a brighter future.
Unleashing Your Potential
Joining a nonprofit committee provides a unique opportunity to unleash your potential and contribute to a cause you deeply care about. By becoming a committee member, you can bring your expertise, insights, and fresh ideas to the table. Whether you have skills in marketing, finance, event planning, or any other area, your contribution can be instrumental in advancing the organization’s goals and enhancing its overall effectiveness. Every community member brings a unique perspective, and together we can drive meaningful change.
Collaboration and Networking
Committee involvement offers a chance to collaborate with like-minded individuals who share your passion for creating a positive impact. Working closely with other committee members allows you to learn from their experiences, expand your professional network, and forge lasting relationships. These connections can open doors to new opportunities and provide a supportive community of individuals who are committed to making a difference.
The Ripple Effect
When you join a nonprofit committee, your influence extends far beyond your individual contribution. Your involvement inspires others to take action and make a difference in their own communities. As a Trellis for Tomorrow committee member, you become an ambassador for positive change, spreading the organization’s mission and values to a wider audience. Your passion and dedication can ignite a ripple effect of community involvement, leading to transformative outcomes that benefit society as a whole.
At Trellis, we know the immense value community members bring to our organization’s success. By joining one of our committees, you become an integral part of our mission, working alongside dedicated individuals to create positive change. If you’re ready to make a tangible impact on the world around you, we invite you to reach out and learn more about the committee opportunities available. Whether you have a few hours to spare each month or can dedicate more time, there is a place for you to contribute. Together, we can create a future that is brighter, greener, more inclusive, and filled with opportunities for all.
In the world of food systems, two connected yet separate concepts play crucial roles in shaping our relationship with food – food security and food sovereignty. While both aim to ensure access to nutritious food, they differ in their focus and principles.
Understanding Food Security
Food security is measured by indicators such as food production, distribution, affordability, and access to food. Organizations and individuals focused on food security are working to address immediate needs and aim to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by providing an adequate food supply to all.
Food security means that individuals and communities can meet their nutritional needs. It refers to the availability, access, utilization, and stability of a community’s food system. It focuses on ensuring that everyone has reliable access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food at all times.
Discovering Food Sovereignty
Food sovereignty is a more holistic approach to food systems that strives for social justice, environmental sustainability, and the preservation of local food systems. Coined by La Via Campesina, those seeking to create food sovereignty typically advocate for the rights of communities, farmers, and individuals to control their own food systems. Inextricably tied to this is the concept of increasing production and consumption of local, sustainable, and culturally appropriate food.
Going beyond food security, food sovereignty focuses on empowering local communities to have control over the agricultural practices (such as crop rotation, seed ownership, irrigation, etc.) and land and resources from which their food comes from. A focus on food sovereignty also highlights the importance of preserving area biodiversity, traditional agricultural knowledge, and local cultural practices related to food.
By prioritizing diverse and resilient methods and seeking to supply locally the foods that the local community wants and needs most, aiming to move past food security and more toward food sovereignty is an important part of creating a more equitable and sustainable future.
At Trellis for Tomorrow, we understand that addressing food security today is essential for fostering food sovereignty tomorrow and we actively work towards improving both concepts through our programs and initiatives.
Increasing Food Security
Trellis for Tomorrow improves food security in vulnerable communities by infusing those communities with fresh, organic, produce all growing season long. We help communities increase their food production and increase access to nutritious food. Through our Food for All program, partner organizations commit to donating at least half of their produce to food banks and pantries local to the garden site. Through these community gardens, and in partnership with food banks, Trellis for Tomorrow ensures that immediate food security needs are addressed.
Advancing Food Sovereignty
Trellis for Tomorrow focuses on empowering communities to reclaim control over their food systems. We support the community by supplying the materials, resources, and expertise to establish large, functional, and sustainable gardens. Then, we work in partnership with members of the community; teaching them how to maintain the space and supporting them through a nine-month garden season. We promote practices that preserve biodiversity and traditional knowledge by engaging with local stakeholders. Through our programs, we strive to create an environment where food sovereignty can thrive.
Building Collaborative Networks
We understand that fostering sustainable food systems requires collaboration and knowledge exchange. We actively build partnerships with local communities, farmers, educational institutions, and government agencies. One example of this is Trellis’s leadership role in the Pottstown Area Food Collaborative (PAFC). PAFC is a group of highly engaged, cross-sector entities with a shared vision for a localized food system in Pottstown that increases access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate, sustainably produced food. The Collaborative views food as not only a basic need and a human right, but also as a re-generator of the local economy. By creating platforms for dialogue and sharing best practices, Trellis for Tomorrow encourages the co-creation of innovative solutions for both food security and food sovereignty.
Become Part of the Solution
By promoting sustainable practices, empowering individuals, and fostering collaboration, Trellis for Tomorrow is making a significant impact on both food security and food sovereignty. Through our efforts, we are laying the foundation for a future where communities have control over their access to nutritious food and the ability to shape their own food systems.
To support Trellis for Tomorrow and work towards a more sustainable and just food future, you can donate, volunteer, or help spread the word.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the importance of a balanced diet and access to fresh, nutrient-dense foods. Unfortunately, many communities face significant challenges when it comes to accessing these essential resources.
Our SEED Skills gardens, which make up 4 of our 26 garden sites, are making a profound impact on communities by providing a training ground to teach sustainable gardening skills and empowering residents to regain control over their access to healthy food – addressing critical public health issues of nutrition and food accessibility.
If that wasn’t enough to get you interested, these gardens are managed entirely by teenagers.
SEED Skills is a dynamic program that includes a combination of hands-on work, classroom curriculum, and interactive activities. Youth participants manage organic gardens in their own neighborhoods, where they learn to grow, harvest, and bring the produce to market, selling subscriptions to their neighbors. They also learn to prepare healthy food for themselves and their families.
See our post on how Trellis for Tomorrow’s produce subscriptions aren’t what you expect and are making a huge impact.
Let’s dig into why the SEED Skills program is so unique and how these gardens (and the young leaders who steward them) are having transformative impacts on the communities in which they are built.
The Importance of SEED Skills:
The SEED Skills program goes beyond traditional community gardens. It is a comprehensive initiative designed to equip people with the knowledge and practical skills needed to grow their own food nearby and sustainably. By fostering a sense of self-reliance, SEED Skills empowers communities to take charge of their own nutritional needs and overcome barriers to accessing fresh, nutrient dense foods.
Earlier this year, we dove deep into the history of our youth programs, exploring the transition from bringing members of underserved communities to gardens to bringing gardens right into the hearts of the community.
SEED Skills gardens serve as vibrant hubs of community engagement, bringing people together to learn, collaborate, and share knowledge. These spaces become focal points for education, enabling people to gain skills, discover the science behind gardening, and develop sustainable practices. Beyond cultivating garden sites, the program also cultivates a sense of belonging and unity within communities, fostering a collective spirit of resilience and well-being.
Addressing Food Inequality:
One of the most significant impacts of SEED Skills gardens is the youth’s role in combating food inequality. For many underserved communities, accessing fresh produce can be challenging due to limited availability, high costs, or geographical barriers. These gardens provide a local solution, enabling people to grow their own nutritious foods right in their neighborhoods – reducing reliance on processed and less nutritious alternatives, transportation barriers to access, and improving the physical and mental health of vulnerable communities.
Beyond Food: A Holistic Approach:
SEED Skills Gardens offer more than just sustenance; they create transformative spaces that enhance community well-being holistically. These gardens serve as outdoor classrooms, promoting environmental education and awareness of sustainable practices. Moreover, they become sources of beauty, tranquility, and pride, revitalizing neighborhoods, and fostering a sense of ownership.
Since its inception in the Summer of 2018, SEED has increased from 1 garden site to 4, and from 15 participants to 90. These SEED Skills gardens embody the transformative potential of community-driven initiatives. By addressing the critical issue of food accessibility and equipping people with vital skills, these gardens empower communities to take control of their nutritional well-being. Through sustainable agricultural practices and a holistic approach, SEED Skills gardens inspire change, foster unity, and cultivate a healthier, more resilient future for all. With each garden planted, we move closer to a world where everyone has equitable access to fresh, nutrient-dense foods, creating healthier and happier communities.
With climate change becoming an increasingly more urgent issue, it’s crucial for us to adopt sustainable practices that can make a real difference. One practice that packs a punch is composting. It’s simple, effective, and has a range of environmental benefits. In this blog post, we’ll dive into:
How composting can help fight climate change.
Share some easy tips for homeowners to start their composting journey.
Share how we’re maximizing the benefits of composting across all 26 garden sites at Trellis for Tomorrow.
Feel free to join the conversation and ask questions in the comments or on social media!
Composting: A Climate Change Ally
With the world rapidly burning its remaining carbon, we need all the climate change solutions possible. You may be surprised that composting can be a game-changer in the fight against climate change. When you compost, you’re diverting organic waste from landfills, which is a big deal. Why? One reason is that when organic waste breaks down in landfills, it releases methane—a very powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to our warming climate. When waste is composted instead of added to a landfill, it can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, by as much as 50%.
But the advantages don’t end there.
Composting is like a superhero for the environment. Here are a few more reasons why it’s awesome:
Carbon Capture: Composting helps us combat climate change by reducing harmful emissions. At home, you’re ensuring that organic waste breaks down in a controlled, aerobic environment, rather than a landfill. This means less methane, a potent greenhouse gas, being released into the atmosphere.
Soil, Oh Soil: Compost is like a magic potion for your soil. It enriches it with nutrients, improves its structure, and boosts its water-holding capacity. Plus, when you use compost in your garden or on your lawn, it helps capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, effectively reducing its concentration and mitigating climate change. Isn’t that amazing?
Less Chemicals, More Nature: Compost is a natural fertilizer, chock-full of essential nutrients for plants. By using compost, you can cut back on synthetic fertilizers, which require a lot of energy to produce. And less energy means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win situation for both your garden and the environment.
Getting Started with Composting at Home
Now that we’ve piqued your interest, let’s talk about how you can kickstart your composting journey. It’s easier than you might think! Here’s what you need to do:
Choose Your Style: First, decide on the composting method that suits your needs and space. Whether it’s a traditional backyard compost pile, a worm-powered vermicomposting setup, or an indoor composting bin, pick the one that works best for you.
Bin There, Done That: Find or purchase a composting bin that allows for proper airflow and moisture control. Don’t worry if you can’t find one—creating a compost pile in a designated area of your yard works just fine.
Toss and Turn: When it comes to what you can compost, kitchen scraps like fruit and veggie peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells are all fair game. Yard waste, such as leaves, grass clippings, and small branches, can join the party too. Just remember to avoid meat, dairy, and oily foods, as they can attract pests.
Mix It Up: Layer your composting materials, alternating between wet (kitchen scraps) and dry (leaves or shredded newspaper) components. Give it a good mix every few weeks to add oxygen and speed up the decomposition process. Think of it as giving your compost a little workout!
Patience and Love: Composting takes time, usually several months to a year, depending on factors like temperature and the materials you use. So be patient and keep an eye on the moisture levels. Give your compost pile some love by turning it every now and then. It’ll pay off, we promise!
Trellis for Tomorrow’s Composting Systems
At Trellis for Tomorrow, our agricultural staff and volunteers are doing some fantastic work managing composting systems across our 26 garden sites. These composting systems efficiently transform garden waste into nutrient-rich compost. Not only does this reduce waste, but it also enriches the soil, making those gardens thrive. Talk about a win for the planet and our communities!
Join the Conversation
We hope this blog post has sparked your interest in composting and its potential to combat climate change. If you have any questions or want to share your composting journey, connect with us on social media or through our website. Let’s work together to create a greener, more sustainable future!
Climate change is often thought of as a problem of the future. However, scientists agree it is already affecting our daily lives. Species decline, extreme weather events, and challenges to the resiliency of our current food supply are just a few of the impacts of a warming climate.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of these challenges. But the food system, when we intentionally care for and invest in it, can be a powerful part of the solution.
Food has a planet-sized impact. Our current food system’s trail from farm to fork to landfill accounts for as much as 34% of global greenhouse gas emissions. So, what can we do about it? The solution begins in our own backyards.
Trellis for Tomorrow’s network of 25 Food for All gardens—and the members who support it—play a critical role in adapting to and overcoming the challenges of a changing climate. Each time you dig your hands into a garden bed, be it at a Trellis for Tomorrow garden or beyond, you are cultivating a garden on guard against our changing climate. Here’s how…
Gardens on guard:
24/24. A journey of a thousand miles doesn’t just begin with a single step…it also begins with more carbon emissions. The average piece of produce travels over 1,500 miles before landing on your plate. A longer supply chain means more emissions and a shorter shelf-life, contributing to food waste and accelerating climate change. 100% of Trellis for Tomorrow organic produce is delivered within 24 miles from the point of harvest, and almost all is made available to address hunger within 24 hours of harvest. This model treats both the recipients and our environment with greater dignity and respect, leading to better health outcomes for all.
Eat clean and grow green. There are a variety of land management practices, such as no-till soil practices or drip line irrigation systems, that can help sequester more carbon, boost biodiversity and increase crop resilience. All of these tools are important pieces of the puzzle in equipping our communities to mitigate further effects of climate change…and give us yummy, nutrient-dense food to boot!
Open spaces, cool breezes. Every garden we cultivate cools our atmosphere. Through giving nature spaces to thrive, we are filling our region with more welcoming places for flora and fauna alike—instead of parking lots or buildings. Places for plants to flourish helps cool the air we breathe, clean the water we drink, and give insects and wildlife habitat to call home.
Bringing the outside in. Gardening wields a dual power, with its environmental benefits extending beyond climate change mitigation. As green thumbs nurture plants, they absorb carbon dioxide, curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Simultaneously, the act of gardening cultivates a profound connection to nature, fostering a sense of responsibility and gratification, elevating one’s well-being and self-worth.
Save the spray. Say it with us: don’t spray it! One billion pounds of pesticides are applied each year in the US, which can cause direct harm to birds and reduce the number of insects available to them. A healthy ecosystem is key to combatting climate change. Each time you opt for organic gardening practices, like the hand weeding approach taught in all Trellis for Tomorrow gardens, you are mitigating climate change from the ground up.
No one person can fix everything. But each person, as you exemplify, can do something. As a member of our Food for All gardens, you are making a difference—one day in the garden at a time. And that food for thought is something to feel good about.