MARCH 9, 2016 Wednesday Focus Sessions


Building and Managing Soils from the Top Down
Remediating Urban Soils
– Eric “T” Fleisher

Most landscapes that we work with in urban, suburban, and even rural environments have a history of severe disturbance and alteration. Often, this includes damage from chemical or industrial use. For over 30 years Mr. Fleisher has been developing protocols for proper data collection, diagnosis, and reporting in order to improve methods of restoring landscapes that have been subject to these conditions. Using Battery Park City, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Museum of Modern Art, and the campus at Harvard University as models, he will detail the components necessary to successfully build and restore soils in the most challenging urban conditions. His techniques focus on encouraging natural nutrient cycling systems through proper soil building and management practice, and avoiding the use of toxic chemicals and excess nitrogen.

Permaculture Applied to Conventional Landscapes
Permaculture Principles in a Horticultural Setting
– Jonathan Bates

Forty years since its development, permaculture, a design process based on agricultural and ethical principles, is gaining acceptance in main stream landscaping. Mr. Bates will introduce permaculture as a design system and global movement. He will review the design principles and ethics and present a “Paradise Lot” in Holyoke, MA as a successful permaculture-based landscape. Whether you are a daily practitioner of permaculture or know little about it, this session will inspire you to learn more.


Building and Managing Soils from the Top Down
Agents of Change: The Role of Plants in Soil Development
– Tara Mitchell

Traditional landscape practices rely on fertilizers, mulches, and other amendments to create soils that support plant growth. However, plants and fungi have been creating and protecting soils for millions of years on their own. How can we tap into these naturally occurring processes and use them to our advantage in the urbanized landscape? Ms. Mitchell will take a closer look at some of the intricate ways in which plants and fungi build, change, and protect soil in natural systems and how traditional landscape practices alter these processes. Using examples of constructed urban landscapes, she will discuss how plant selection, design decisions, and land care practices may be used to promote the cycles of plant growth and decay necessary for healthy soils and self-sustaining landscapes.

Permaculture Applied to Conventional Landscapes
Applying Permaculture Principles to Water Management
– Keith Zaltzberg

The New England climate is changing. Heavier rainfalls are causing greater inundation, yet higher temperatures and longer-term dry conditions are resulting in dry soils. These new patterns require a rethinking of water management for landscapes. Permaculture offers a design framework and simple strategies for conserving water when and where it is over abundant and dispersing it where and when it is needed. Join Mr. Zaltzberg as he describes this whole-systems approach using integrated earthwork and planting patterns. Citing examples from the New England area, he will review design principles and specifications for choosing, sizing, and managing cisterns and tanks, rain gardens, contour swales, and Keyline systems.


Building and Managing Soils from the Top Down
Keeping Soil on Site: Slope Stabilization
– Tom Benjamin and Duke Bitsko

Working on slopes and near shorelines poses both challenges and opportunities for landscape designers. Repairing and preventing erosion during and after construction is a central concern. Bioengineering is a technique that combines “hard” engineering with the biological attributes of living vegetation. This session explores innovative bioengineering approaches modeled after effective natural systems. These approaches employ multi-tiered reinforcement systems that stabilize even the steepest slopes and most vulnerable shorelines from the start of construction onward. Bioengineering offers significant additional benefits unattainable by strictly hard-armored, conventional engineering approaches, such as improved stormwater management and enhanced habitat and aesthetics. Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Bitsko will present a variety of replicable applications taken from diverse and often high profile sites.

Permaculture Applied to Conventional Landscapes
Integrating Edibles into the Designed Landscape
– Ellen Sousa

Ellen Sousa will ​discuss the challenges and special considerations for integrating food systems into landscape design. A beautiful and functional garden that feeds people and provides biodiversity requires careful site analysis, plant selection and placement, and optimal soil health. Ms. Sousa will also discuss the ongoing management and maintenance​ needed to meet client expectations and goals.


Building and Managing Soils from the Top Down
Closing the Loop: Reusing and Recycling On-site Resources
– Eric “T” Fleisher

Mr. Fleisher will be describing composting processes and the important role compost plays in creating closed loop, natural growing systems within plant communities. Using examples from the systems he developed for Battery Park City, Harvard University, Princeton University, and his own business, F2 Environmental Design, he will discuss various composting techniques, how to analyze and organize the different feed stocks, and how to assess the quality of compost. Mr. Fleisher will also discuss how composting is integral to managing the earth’s resources responsibly.

Permaculture Applied to Conventional Landscapes
Form and Function: Designing with Plant Polycultures
– Jonathan Bates

Polyculture is the permaculture practice of using multiple crops to create biodiversity and to reduce plant susceptibility to disease. Mr. Bates will discuss how to incorporate polycultures into the horticultural landscape. Learn simple guidelines for maximizing ecological functions while meeting cultural needs using polycultures that work well and look good together.


Lunch, Keynote & Networking
Growing Local, Buying Local: Community Support Makes a Difference!
-Phil Korman

Community support can make a difference! Mr. Korman will discuss how Community Involved In Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), by engaging the support of the community, has changed the local farming and food economy. He will show what is unique to Western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley and what others have done to inspire local farming. By looking at how one community has brought about change, we can learn what’s possible in the future on a larger scale.


Keynote Dinner
Mycoremediation: Healing Compromised Ecosystems with Fungi
– Tradd Cotter

Many species of fungi sweat powerful enzymes, or “chemical keys”, capable of molecular disassembly of complex molecules such as hydrocarbons, aromatic chlorinated compounds, and pesticides. A few species of fungi are also well adapted to filter, stun and destroy pathogenic bacteria (such as those from pet waste). Learn how fungi perform these miraculous tasks and how to develop a living barrier or filtration system that is customized to fit your needs. Mr. Cotter will focus on biomass expansion, site engineering, and species of fungi that can be used for mycoremediation projects. He will also discuss using fungi for pest management, habitat restoration, and how to incorporate fungi into bioswales or rain gardens to capture pollutants from site runoff.

MARCH 10, 2016 Thursday Conference Sessions & Idea Exchanges 

7:30-8:30 am

Landscape Lighting Workshop & Demonstration
-Lucas Strum


Light up Your Landscape
-Lucas Strum

Landscape lighting can do more than make outdoor spaces safer and more inviting. Well-designed lighting systems can reveal hidden aspects of the landscape and, by using new technologies, can improve energy efficiency and preserve dark skies. But are the newest products always the best? How much light is enough? As landscapes mature, should their lighting change too? And how do we weigh the trade-offs between efficiency, quality, cost, and durability? Mr. Sturm will review the latest light sources, including conventional incandescent, discharge lamps, and LED; describe lighting methods that save energy and reduce light pollution; and explore integrated approaches to lighting design.

Tree Filter Systems for Stormwater Management
– Paul Iorio

Tree filter systems integrate common street trees with stormwater collection as a viable and sustainable alternative to traditional “end of pipe” systems in achieving stormwater management and remediation goals. These systems are unique in that they integrate above ground vegetation with subsurface bioremediation to treat and “cleanse” stormwater contaminated with pollutants prior to subsurface infiltration to groundwater and aquifers. Case studies of projects completed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Watershed Council in residential neighborhoods in Leominster, MA will be featured and discussed. Session attendees will come away with a thorough understanding of the mechanics of tree filter systems, their applicability and utility in the residential streetscape, and their costs as compared with conventional non-sustainable practices.

Idea Exchange

Managing Challenging Landscapes: Tips from the Experts
-George Cassette, Russ Hopping, Anthony Ruggiero, Theresa Sprague

All land managers face challenging site conditions and situations from insect infestations to drought. What are the challenges you face? Are you struggling with compacted soil due to excessive use of a site? Experiencing limited budgets? Staying one step ahead of invasive weeds and insects? Are there regulatory requirements that add to these challenges? Bring your questions and join our experts as they share their tips and strategies for managing difficult landscape situations.


Designing with Plant Communities in Mind
– Claudia West

Ecological plantings are gaining popularity, but also face challenges due to environmental conditions and cultural expectations. When these plantings fail, it discourages future ecological landscaping efforts. We won’t solve this problem if we continue to design as if it we were painting on canvas, perceiving plants as individual objects in space. It is time for a new approach: a plant community based approach that evolved from the world of ecological science. Join Ms. West as she explains how plants fit together in the wild and how we can use this knowledge to create landscapes that are resilient, beautiful, and diverse. This presentation will provide information that is practical as well as inspiring.

Restoring the Urban Forest
– Fiorella Trimble

New York City has concluded a massive initiative that planted one million trees over eight years. Ms. Trimble will provide a brief overview of the MillionTrees initiative, outline how the New York Parks Department specifies street tree species, and provide details on diversification and the City’s procurement plan. She will also discuss how tree species are selected for urban conditions and comment on unique tree species that are being planted more regularly throughout New York City. Participants will be able to use NYC’s tree specifying formula for their on urban locations.

Idea Exchange

Cost-effective Landscape Management Strategies
– Benjamin Crouch, Nate McCullin, Mark Richardson 

We all have to keep an eye on the bottom line. When faced with limited resources, time, money, and personnel, we need to develop strategies for getting the job done while providing responsible stewardship of the land. Today’s panelists will look at plants that are able to thrive with minimal care, ways to reduce vegetation management over the long term, strategies for re-using and recycling materials onsite, and other creative methods of staying within the budget while meeting expectations. Sharing your challenges and success stories will ensure a lively exchange of ideas and strategies.


Creating an Urban Refuge: Mt. Auburn’s Wildlife Action Plan
– Paul Kwiatkowski

Paul Kwiatkowski will share how, with the creation of its Wildlife Action Plan, Mount Auburn Cemetery was able to create and sustain important ecosystem functions on its 175-acre property in Cambridge, MA and to encourage visitors to reconnect with that landscape. Mr. Kwiatkowski will discuss how they developed and implemented projects ranging from finding the necessary funding and creating a citizen science volunteer program to addressing storm water management concerns and selecting native species for habit creation. The Wildlife Action Plan has inspired staff and visitors alike to push the boundaries of expectation and allowed Mount Auburn to evolve into an urban wildlife refuge.

What Role Do Native Cultivars Have in an Ecological Landscape?
– Keith Nevison

Recent evidence suggests that some native cultivars (nativars) have enhanced attraction for pollinators over their wild type analogues. Join Mr. Nevison as he discusses research being done at Mount Cuba’s Trial Garden in Delaware to assess pollinator preferences between nativars and straight species. He will outline why and when nativars should or should not be used in ecological landscaping, show specific examples of nativars proving useful for conservation, and explain how they fit into a larger native plant community.

Idea Exchange

Battling the Bugs: Strategies for Insect Management
 Carl Brodeur, Jennifer Formn Orth, PhD, Joe Magazzi

Are mosquitos, ticks, and other insects causing you concerns? Are you battling insect pests in the gardenand out in the landscape? Do you wonder what steps we can take to avoid insect problems in the future? Join this Idea Exchange team to learn what management strategies they’ve used as a means of control and to discover what’s new in the treatment of existing and soon-to-arrive insects in New England.


Creating Ecological Landscapes in Maine: Challenges & Opportunities
– Arek Galle and Emily Goodwin

Creating landscapes in New England presents a variety of challenges, but Landscape Architect Arek Galle and Emily Goodwin, owner of Black Meadow Farms, have found that practicing in the state of Maine has additional challenges: Maine is larger than all the other New England states combined, and it borders only one other US state. Due to its unique location, plants, and materials, designers and contractors must be sourced locally out of necessity. Mr. Galle and Ms. Goodwin will share how these unique conditions present both a challenge and an opportunity for economic sustainability as they discuss a variety of projects: a magnificent estate on the Maine coast, a forgotten farm on a salt pond, a brownfield site reinvented as an intermodal hub, and the revitalization of a historic park on the Kennebec River.

Native Shrubs up to the Challenge
– Dr. Jessica Lubell

From invasive insects and new diseases to climate extremes, plants are increasingly facing challenges to their survival. Learn which native shrubs can stand up to those challenge and why, how to site plants properly to maximize landscape utility and minimize maintenance needs, and which native shrubs are best suited to support pollinators.

Idea Exchange

Buying Quality Nursery Stock: Asking the Right Questions
– John Kinchila, Matthew Stephens, TBD

Problems that begin in the nursery and go unaddressed may shorten the lifespan of a plant and compromise a landscape. Consequently, obtaining healthy plants is essential. What steps can we take, either as end buyers or nursery suppliers, to avoid problems? What should consumers look for when inspecting plants at the nursery? How can we successfully establish plants shipped from other states with different climates and soils? What problems face growers and nursery suppliers when they try to meet demand and provide healthy plants? Would buyers’ cooperatives or contract growing improve plant availability and quality? Whether you’re a supplier or buyer, bring your questions and suggestions to discuss.

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