The Conservation Committee is charged with arousing the interest of the Club and the community to the importance of conservation and the dangers of neglecting our environment. In pursuit this educational mission, the committee has undertaken the following activities:
- Farm to Table Abundance in the Litchfield Area, 2013:
Explains why it is important to “eat local,” discusses the differences between sustainable, organic, and other farming methods, and lists most of the area’s farmers’ markets, local farms selling to the public, makers of food products and restaurants that rely principally on local food suppliers. A booklet listing sources of local foods in 2013 accompanies the exhibit. The exhibit is available to nonprofit organizations for short-term display.
Click here to see the display.
- Butterfly Garden to Pollinator Project, 2010:
Tells the story of why the Litchfield Garden Club’s Butterfly Garden at White Memorial next to Ongley Pond was converted to a pollinator project instead.
- Climate Change in our Region, 2007:
Shows how horticultural growing zones have moved northward as average temperatures increased. It focuses on what these changes mean for gardeners and how gardeners might respond to the challenges posed by shifting growing seasons and weather/rainfall patterns. This exhibit was developed in 2007 but remains relevant and is still available for display.
- The Importance of Open Space, 2005:
Illustrated the importance of preserving open space in Litchfield. It was displayed at Garden Club meetings, the Community Center, the Oliver Wolcott Library in October 2005, White Memorial Family Nature Day (2005 and 2006) and at the Federated Garden Club Flower Show in Hartford in February, 2006.
- Public Forums and Open Meetings:
Every year the Litchfield Garden Club hosts one or more meetings on conservation topics open to the general public free of charge. Some recent and upcoming meetings:
- Green Sanctuaries and Blue Waters, a presentation by Curt Johnson, Senior Attorney and Program Director for Connecticut Fund for the Environment (http://www.ctenvironment.org/about/). Mr. Johnson will discuss the importance of preserving open spaces and the links between open space and clean drinking water. April 17, 2014, 3 p.m. at the Litchfield Community Center.
- Growing Organic Food—How and Why, April 13, 2013. Pauline Lord, horticulturist at White Gate Farm, presenter.
- A Tale of Twenty Trees, April 13, 2011, presented by Michael Dosmann, Curator at Arnold Arboretum in Boston.
- Responsible Gardening for the 21st Century, March 18, 2010, presented by landscape historian and designer Marie Stella.
- Supporting the Future of Agriculture in Litchfield: Farming and the Community, April 15, 2009, a panel on Litchfield Food Services.
- Gina McCarthy, the Connecticut Commissioner of Environmental Protection, addressed the open meeting held October 19, 2006 at the Litchfield Community Center.
- Public Forum on Open Space Preservation, February 9, 2006, featured Eliot Wadsworth, CEO of White Flower Farm; Lynn Werner, Executive Director of the Housatonic Valley Association; Tim Northrop, CT state director of the Trust for Public Lands; and Andrew Roraback, CT state senator. Martha Phillips, a Garden Club member, moderated.
February, 2006 Forum on Open Space Preservation audience
February 6, 2006 Panelists, L-R: State Sen. Andrew Roraback, Martha Phillips (moderator), Eliot Wadsworth (White Flower Farm and Greenprint), Lynn Werner (Housatonic Valley Association), and Tim Northrop (Trust for Public Land)
- Litchfield Sixth Grade Conservation Education Program:
Starting in the early 1960’s, the Litchfield Garden Club has underwritten the cost of bringing White Memorial Education Director Jeff Greenwood (and his predecessor Gordon Loery) into Litchfield’s sixth grade classes to provide a five-unit program every spring. Over the years, approximately 4800 sixth-graders have been taught about Connecticut geology and minerals, coniferous trees, animal adaptations, biodiversity and endangered species, invasive species and climate change. The program is capped off by a field day at White Memorial when students apply all their newly-acquired knowledge.
Sixth graders on field day expedition
- Annual contributions:
The Litchfield Garden Club makes small financial contributions to organizations doing important conservation work in our community and state. Recipients in the last decade have included Connecticut Audubon Society, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Connecticut Land Trust, Housatonic Valley Association, Litchfield Community Garden, Litchfield Food Systems, Litchfield Greenway, Litchfield High School Envirothon Team, Litchfield Hills Greenprint, Litchfield Land Trust, Northwest Conservation District, and River Alliance.
- Pollinator Project:
The Conservation Committee of the Litchfield Garden Club has “hands on” involvement in the Pollinator Project, which it planted and continues to maintain at White Memorial next to Ongley Pond. Each year the White Flower Farm generously donates annuals which are then planted by Garden Club members. Garden Club members also take turns making sure the garden is weeded and watered. Click here for more information about the Pollinator Project, including before-and-after pictures, the garden plan, a list of plants important to butterflies.
GCA’s Acorn blog highlighted Litchfield Garden Club’s Pollinator Project on August 13 2013. Thank you Polly Brooks for sending in the information.
- Washington DC Legislative meeting:
Members of the Conservation Committee travel to Washington DC each February for an intense three-day national conference on legislation affecting the environment. This meeting is sponsored by the Garden Club of America’s National Affairs and Legislation Committee. Three hundred garden club members from across the country are briefed about current legislative issues, hear from prominent officials and experts, and then share their views with their representatives and senators.
February, 2007 NAL meeting: L-R, Polly Brooks, Martha Phillips, Gracelyn Guyol (Zone II Rep), Nancy Post, Diane, Stoner, Madeline Patenge
- Connecticut state legislative report and advocacy:
The Conservation Committee tracks state legislation pertaining to environmental issues. When club members agree on an important issue, they urge elected and appointed officials to take action. Some issues the club has spoken out on in the past decade include expanding the bottle deposit, strengthening state regulations to help fight the Asian longhorn beetle and the ash borer, expanding Connecticut’s list of prohibited invasive species, and advocacy for protection of open spaces and clean drinking water. (Click here to read our members’ testimony.)
Issues currently on our watch list:
· National issues:
- Lobsters in Long Island Sound: impact of mosquito-control chemicals
- Bees: impact of pesticides
- Plum Island: federal plans to sell the island for development versus preserving it for wildlife habitat
- The Garden Club of America’s committees on conservation and national affairs and legislation keep an eye on developing conservation issues and federal legislation and regulations pertaining to them. The GCA has adopted position papers on half a dozen topics. These papers form the basis for lobbying and advocacy issues undertaken on behalf of the GCA. To see to position papers, click here.
- Lobbying and advocacy are part of the work done by Garden Club of America members. To guide, members through the “dos and don’ts” of issue politics for nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, the Spring issue of ConWatch published this article (click here to read the article).