7 Simple and Effective Ways to Conserve Water in Home Gardening

7 Simple and Effective Ways to Conserve Water in Home Gardening

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.

Utilize Mulch

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.

Cultivating a Healthier Future: Our SEED Skills Gardens

Cultivating a Healthier Future: Our SEED Skills Gardens

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.

Past to Present: A History of our Youth Programs

Empowering Communities:

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.





Changing climate, growing solutions.

Changing climate, growing solutions.

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.

Looking for more ways to help? Generosity grows our gardens. Learn more about supporting our work with a donation at https://trellis4tomorrow.kindful.com/



R/Evolutionary Youth Programs: the SEED Leadership Track

R/Evolutionary Youth Programs: the SEED Leadership Track

SEED Leaders helping SEED Crew build a bug hotel.

Something special is happening at Trellis for Tomorrow. Beyond the many gardens, hundreds of volunteers, tens of thousands of pounds of organic produce, and the countless meals positively impacted by nutrient-dense foods distributed throughout the region, something incredible is happening within our youth programs.

From the early days and tender beginnings of Trellis for Tomorrow, we have been developing and delivering exceptional youth programs which have had both an immediate and lasting impact in the lives of the young people we serve. In fact, one of our board members – Tessa Henry – is a former participant and a serious advocate for the power of our programs.

(If you missed our blog on the history of our youth programs, you can find it here.)

For nearly 20 years, Trellis has paid close attention to the landscape around us and has cultivated a deep awareness of the pressing needs our young people face. This has enabled us to develop programs that are responsive to current needs and realities and has often placed Trellis at the leading edge of youth engagement and community impact. This is certainly exemplified by our SEED Skills youth program and the Leadership Track that has grown out of it.

“I don’t know where I would be without it.” – SEED Leader

SEED Leaders posing with community member.

In 2018 we piloted a new program – SEED Skills – which “flipped the script” on our previous models. Instead of bringing young people from their communities for meaningful learning experiences at area farms, we asked: what if we brought the farms into their communities. The result was SEED Skills, which utilizes Student-led Enterprises and Environmental Discovery to engage young people and inspire them to build more sustainable communities.

The success and growth of Trellis’ SEED Skills program has been significant. We have grown to include four garden locations with separate youth cohorts. In 2022, more than 70 young people participated, with many returning for their second or third time in the program.

To support the upward trajectory of these incredible youth, we created our Leadership Track. The Leadership Track provides youth with a chance to grow into new roles, take on more responsibilities, and earn more money while building their resumes and expanding their network and future opportunities.

Qualified candidates are returning participants who attend Springboard– our annual leadership training program for returning youth offered every spring. Upon completion of that training, our staff meets 1 on 1 with each participant discuss interests and skill sets in several categories. If participants have shown initiative and are interested in pursuing a leadership role, they are brought on as either Junior Team Leaders, Senior Team Leaders, or Junior Program Assistants.

SEED Leaders speaking about their experiences at Cultivar.

We decided early on that, if we truly want these young leaders practice the leadership skills they’re learning, they should really be the ones to shape the program. As a result of this decision, our SEED Leaders have been critical in shaping what it means to be a part of the Leadership Track. Since 2021, our youth leaders have grown this program into a robust – year-round opportunity.

Trellis currently has 11 SEED Leaders, two of whom were recently hired on our staff as Junior Program Assistants. Together, these 11 young leaders have decided to meet on a twice monthly basis throughout the year, discussing matters that are important to our programs and encouraging each other to grow as leaders at school and elsewhere in the community. Trellis hosts many of these meetings and provides materials and training for continued growth.

In 2023 we expect more than 20 young people to participate in Springboard with the hopes of enrolling or continuing on our Leadership Track. It is an impressive group of aspiring leaders. “I am truly in awe of our SEED Leaders,” says Grace Hardy, Trellis’ Program Manager, “I have seen many of these young people grow from shy kids to confident leaders. They are really heading places and it’s an honor to play a role in their lives along the way.”

You can support this program by becoming a donor, sponsor, or volunteer today.

This piece was co-written by program staff members David Ryle and Grace Hardy. David is our Senior Programs Manager and comes to us with 15 years of experience in community building, social justice work, and organic agriculture. Grace is our Programs Manager and comes to us with nearly 10 years of experience in outdoor education and working with young people to build leadership skills in hands-on environments.

Resolutions to Better Care for Our World

Resolutions to Better Care for Our World

It’s January! – that sometimes frosty, sort of quiet, mostly post-holiday time when the promise of new achievements in a new year (and perhaps some festive indigestion and the awkward embrace of too-snug clothing) inspires many of us to make resolutions for self-improvement.

 The word January comes to us by way of ancient Rome and is named after Janus, the mythological god of beginnings and endings, often portrayed as a figure with two faces pointed in different directions. These ancient roots for what we call the first month of our year holds a special invitation for us today.

Janus teaches us to look back as much as we look forward – or better yet, to be circumspect, which literally means to look around. But look out! – looking around is hard to do when moving at full speed, so it’s also an invitation to slow down, to stop, or even to rest, “perchance to dream”.

Such an invitation is good news in a world so completely busy and preoccupied, so driven and distracted, so addled with stress and anxiety. The invitation that calls us to greater stillness, to greater awareness of self and others can lead us to a place of new understanding, where we might craft resolutions to better care for our world and, in the process, ourselves.

At Trellis for Tomorrow, we are deeply committed to this process of looking around, of cultivating awareness, of lifelong learning, of caring for our world through the work we do and the words we choose. But we are also done-in by drive and distraction, prone to busyness and preoccupation, susceptible to stress and anxiety.

As we look to a new year with an unwritten history, awaiting the collective creative work of our world stewardship, we are compelled to look back, and to look around.

Looking back, we can see the path that has brought us here over these past 20 years of work in our region; we can see the pressing needs in our world that spurred us to the creation of numerous programs and initiatives that have engaged thousands of people and positively impacted nearly a million meals; we can see the incredible collection of like-minded people who came together to identify and name our Core Values. Could they be your core values too? Learn more here.

Looking around, we see people in need of connection and community, we see a food system in need of change, we see an ecosystem in need of better partners and stewards, and we see a generation of young leaders eager to step up.

This January, we invite you to slow down, look around, and make your own resolutions to better care for our world. Then, find your place for you to stand with us and support our work. Learn more here.

We’d love to from you! Share your comments or your own resolutions here.

David is a staff member of Trellis for Tomorrow. As Senior Programs Manager, he comes to us with 15 years of experience in community building, social justice work, and organic agriculture. When he’s not at Trellis, you might find him tending the crops for his local tea company or supporting other efforts for a more equitable and sustainable food system.

Uncharted Roots: Why asking where your food comes from can make a big difference

Uncharted Roots: Why asking where your food comes from can make a big difference

Recently, a participant of our SEED Skills youth program asked the question, “Where does our food come from?” Without missing a beat, another participant replied, “the store.” Asking them to dig a little deeper, we pressed, “but where does the store get their food?” Reflecting for a moment, she answered matter-of-factly, “from the back.” And that was where their thread of understanding ended.

Trellis is dedicated to creating learning experiences for youth of all ages to improve their relationship with themselves, their communities, and the world around them. A significant component of our work is taking a close look at the systems we interact with daily. Particularly when it comes to our food system, we’re asking questions about how those systems work (or don’t), and where we can take steps to effect positive change.

Before you bemoan the fate or state of “kids these days,” I would put the same question to you: Do you know where your food comes from? Not merely naming the many parts of the system that work together to keep you fed, but holistically – down at the level where roots spread their fingers in the soil. Do you know?


Do you know the fields that grow your wheat or corn, the groves and orchards the grow your nuts and fruit, the farms or factories that nurtured or confined the animals whose lives nurture ours? Do you know the hands that tended your sustenance, or the names of their owners? Does it matter?

For millennia, the answers to these questions came to us easily – backyards, neighboring farms, family members, small grocers bringing together locally produced food – people you encountered with frequency, whose names and faces you knew. In recent generations, we’ve moved away from this type of community-based food system and into a system that has created numerous, unseen realities that have both positive and negative impacts our world.

If you’re reading this, you are the beneficiary of this globalized food system in at least one, but more likely in many ways. Resolving to grow our understanding of where our food comes from holds the promise of benefits for everyone and our planet.

When you begin with a determination to cultivate new understanding and a simple question, you will find yourself on a path to new questions – How far has my food traveled? How does that path impact the environment? Were the farmers treated fairly? Did the animals see sunlight and breathe fresh air? Further, how do the answers to these questions affect me, my family, and my community?

Because of our Core Values (learn more here), we believe that each of us has a role to play in the healing of our world, that we all can grow in new ways, and that working in partnership we can see things improve during our stewardship of our time together on this planet we all share. We hope you will join us!

David is a staff member of Trellis for Tomorrow. As Senior Programs Manager, he comes to us with 15 years of experience in community building, social justice work, and organic agriculture. When he’s not at Trellis, you might find him tending the crops for his local tea company or supporting other efforts for a more equitable and sustainable food system.