Winter is coming to a close as we begin to pack away our heavy coats and gloves. We may be sad to see the skis go back into the basement, but soon we’ll bring out the mountain bikes and hiking shoes. And as the temperature begins to rise we can head back into our gardens and yards.
Our trees and plants have been snoozing the winter away and it is time for them to wake back up. Just like us, our trees are a little groggy and sleepy, from their long nap. The harsh elements of the winter have damaged and weakened their branches and stems. This makes them even more susceptible to pest invasion. Nonetheless, with a little tender loving care we can help rejuvenate our trees, keeping them strong, happy, healthy and pesticide free.
Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Check out our resource guide for tips and visit our past blogs on organic landscaping to get started.
It’s 2020 already and we can hardly believe it! Salt Lake City finished out 2019 strong alongside 19 communities that opted into the Community Renewable Energy Act’s pathway to achieve net-100% renewable energy.
But that’s not all SLCgreen got up to in 2019. It was a busy year, and as a community, we have taken major strides in accomplishing our goals. See our full 2019 Year in Review here and read below for a few of the major highlights.
Thanks to all our partners in City government, other government agencies, non-profit associations, neighborhood groups, business partners, and community councils, we are continuing to make SLC more sustainable and resilient.
You can take a look at the 2017 and 2018 reports to see what we’ve been working on over the last few years. Before we set our sights on 2020, here are a few highlights from 2019!
Air Quality, Climate Change & Energy
After a three-year collaboration with Park City, Summit County, Rocky Mountain Power, and the state legislature, we successfully saw passage of House Bill 411 the “Community Renewable Energy Act” in the 2019 legislative session. The law establishes a legal pathway for communities with 100% clean energy goals to achieve them in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Power.
Expanded public EV charging infrastructure, increasing the total number of city-owned EV charging ports to 38, plus 16 at the airport.
With Utah Clean Energy, launched “Empower SLC,” a neighborhood energy efficiency program targeting the 84116 and 84104 neighborhoods to improve energy efficiency and conservation measures that reduce pollution and lower utility costs. As of September, over 450 households have been engaged, resulting in an estimated savings of 335,353 kWh per year!
Developed an energy after-school curriculum for youth groups and created a new partnership with YouthCity on programming for the Fall 2019 programs. This resulted in the adoption of “energy” as the central theme of their Science Fair.
Hosted the Elevate Buildings awards luncheon, recognizing first-year reporting commercial buildings with ENERGY STAR scores 75 and above and Mayoral recognition of exceptional performers.
Halloween is here and things are getting extra spooky. Whether you’re out trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, or just enjoying the fall weather, take a minute to celebrate some of Halloween’s most iconic creatures: Bats!
While bats may seem scary, like spiders they are an important part of our ecosystems. Not only do they help control insect populations, reducing the need for pesticides, they are also major pollinators.
It just so happens that Halloween marks the last day of International Bat Week. Soin honor of our winged friends, here are some fun facts about bats.
There are eighteen species of bats in Utah, and over 1,300 species world wide. Bugs make up the primary diet of most bats. And a single bat can eat thousands of insects each night! For smaller bats, that can mean eating close to their body weight in insects!
By controlling insect populations, bats help reduce the need for toxic pesticides. As a result, bats also help farmers save money by serving as natural defenses against insect damage to crops. Moreover, by diminishing our dependence on pesticides, bats also help protect our food and health.
Pollinating by Night
While most bats are insectivores, many species consume nectar and fruit – and are important pollinators! Indeed, bats are responsible for pollinating over 300 species of fruit including bananas and mangoes. They also help pollinate the plants that are used to make different kinds of medicine.
Keeping Bats and Humans Safe
One common misconception about bats is they are blood-suckers. Although the vampire bat does consume the blood of other animals, bats don’t attack humans. Bats can carry rabies and other diseases, so it is important to remember that handling bats isn’t safe for you or the bat.
. . . Fall is an important time of year for employing organic and sustainable gardening methods.
Preparing for next year– Be Pesticide Free!
The fall is a key part of the gardening cycle because it allows us to prepare our garden for the winter and sets us up for a productive spring and summer.
Most pesticides and fertilizers used today are produced with harmful chemicals that even when applied correctly can have adverse effects on the environment, pollinators, and human health.
But don’t worry– there are plenty of ways to have a healthy garden and lawn without using noxious chemicals.
Leave the Leaves
Not all leaves need to be raked up and disposed of immediately:
Consider that your leaves are a free fertilizer and weed suppressant! This makes them perfect for organic gardening.
Leaves also provide important winter habitat for butterflies, bees, and other beneficial bugs.
Finally, “leaving your leaves” reduces emissions associated with polluting leaf blowers. Keeping leaves out of the landfill also prevents the generation of potent methane emissions.
So how can you use leaves?
Use whole leaves around perennials, trees and bushes, or lightly layered on lawn (they may need to be shredded first). You can also create a leaf pile that will decompose into “leaf mold“– a rich, valuable compost amendment to be used in warmer months. Or– if you’re like me– simply pile your leaves on your vegetable garden bed and turn them into the soil in the spring before planting.
And if you still have too many leaves, use your curbside compost can to dispose of them (please keep them out of the gutters and storm drains). If you have a lot of leaves, give us a shout and we’ll help you get an extra container or two.
Use organic amendments to improve the health of your soil
Materials like the aforementioned leaves, as well as other compost, manure, bone meal, etc. can be used to balance the pH of your soil and will release nutrients into the soil to create a vibrant ecosystem and help your garden grow. Mulches can also be great for keeping weeds down, retaining moisture, and feeding the soil. Other organic soil enhancers, like coffee grounds, tea bags, and even newspaper can be an important tool in keeping your garden thriving. Learn more about amending your soil. Read more
Since last spring, little green hexagonal signs have been blooming in Salt Lake City gardens. These Pesticide Free Yard signs are part of the Salt Lake City Pesticide Free Campaign in partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). HBBF encourages residents to protect our families and the environment by eliminating pesticide use.
Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department teamed up with Beyond Pesticides to guide residents who want to keep their gardens beautiful without using harmful chemicals. And it’s working! Since 2018, over 340 individuals have pledged to go pesticide free.
And even though summer is coming to a close, you can still go pesticide free in your yard. Eliminating your use of toxic chemicals is a year-round challenge that will protect your family and neighborhood.
Pollinators: we need them! And this Saturday, June 15, you can join Catalyst Magazine, Wasatch Community Gardens, and Slow Food Utah to help celebrate pollinators at the 9th Annual Bee Fest.
The event, which kicks off Pollinator Week (June 17-23), will be abuzz with pollinator activities including poetry readings, bee-friendly craft projects, games, and even an all-ages costume contest. If you care about pollinators, you won’t want to miss Bee Fest!
We’ll be there tabling and discussing our Pesticide Free SLC campaign. Come by, say hi, and pick up your free yard sign to show your commitment to chemical-free yard care that supports pollinators (and our health and environment).
On April 13, Stonyfield Yogurt will host a “Field Day” of fun-filled family activities for the general public to enjoy, which celebrates a new program and collaboration with the City.
Bouncy houses, games, music, free organic yogurt and other activities will be located between playing fields at the Regional Athletic Complex and are open to all. Education about organic field maintenance will also take place at a fun “Edutainment Cart” featuring interactive and educational activities for kids and parents.
At 1 pm Mayor Jackie Biskupski will receive a donation of $5,000 from Stonyfield Organic yogurt to support the Pesticide Free SLC program. It will be used to convert two fields at the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) to organic land care maintenance methods.
The company will also pledge an additional $40,000 to cover technical services to implement and identify best management practices that could be scaled up at the RAC, with the goal of making it the first sports complex in the nation with professional-grade fields being maintained through organic maintenance practices.
What: “Field Day of Fun!” to Celebrate Organic Land Care with Stonyfield Organic
The initiative is aimed at reducing overall chemical use in the Salt Lake City community and includes both a municipal and public focus. Building off the best management practices already employed by the Parks Division for the maintenance of all municipal parks and fields, the City has been piloting organic land care methods at both Laird and Madsen parks since 2017.
The support of Stonyfield will give Salt Lake City its largest organically-maintained lawn areas to date, with the focus on high-visibility and heavy-use spaces.