We're involved in some organizations in Central New York, and we've also created some other websites and blogs.
Our first venture into habitat gardening began with being certified as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat. I became very interested in the idea and became a NWF Habitat Steward. Although the information the National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat program provides is very useful, I needed more continuous, more detailed information, especially information tailored to our area. I also was eager to meet other people who shared similar interests. I knew that if I was having difficulty knowing exactly what to do, other people probably were as well.
So I and two other like-minded people started what we described as "a garden club with a difference"—the "difference" being that we were more interested in good stewardship of our land than in just creating a pretty garden only for people.
We originally called our group "Habitat Gardening Club" but later renamed it Habitat Gardening in Central New York (HGCNY) in 2002. We met at a local nature center, and one of the co-founders, who happened to be a very knowledgeable professional natural landscaper, provided the bulk of our programs, although we occasionally asked other local experts (as we discovered them) to speak to our small group.
The next big change in how we thought about our land was when we discovered Wild Ones. Not only was their mission appealing, but it was exciting to discover a large group of people from around the country who were interested in the same thing we were interested in. After a while, HGCNY became an official chapter of Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes.
HGCNY generally meets the last Sunday of the month at 2:00 pm. From September through April our monthly programs feature local experts on various topics related to habitat gardening. In the summer, we visit each other's yards, sometimes with an expert natural landscaper providing advice. These tours are very educational and inspiring. Our meetings are free and open to the public.
Throughout our marriage, John has focused on growing our fruits and vegetables. Since he retired, he's grown even more edibles and has learned more and more. This knowledge and gardening skills were probably second nature to our grandparents (or for the younger crowd, great-grandparents), but these skills have largely been lost.
Both for sustainability and for health, it's important to relearn these skills, so John started Edible Gardening CNY (EGCNY). There are other local groups for community gardens and other community-wide gardening efforts, but EGCNY is especially for people who want to grow fruits and vegetables right in their own yards (or other spaces they have access to).
EGCNY has monthly programs on edible gardening topics. During the year, the programs feature local experts and provide an opportunity for members of the group to share their own gardening problems and solutions. In the summer, members visit each other's edible gardens. EGCNY is free and open to the public.
Our other websites
Our Edible Garden describes our vegetable and fruit garden. We produced over 650 pounds of produce in the Summer 2010 gardening year! We're also working on extending the season and preserving food for the winter in various ways. (This website is in progress.)
Our Green "Good Life" describes our progress toward a green lifestyle that's also a satisfying one—even more satisfying than what has come to be the typical American lifestyle.
Part of a satisfying lifestyle is having a yard that reconnects us with the natural world and works to preserve biodiversity, so in effect, this "Our Habitat Garden" website is really just a part of Our Green "Good Life" website. Other topics on that website are:
- eating locally-produced, organic food for as much of the year as possible
- conserving energy and using it wisely
- making wise transportation choices
- dealing with the "stuff" of our lives including clothing
- finding less-toxic personal and household care products
- working in the community beyond our house and yard