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Archive for the ‘Robin McKillop’ Category

by Robin McKillop

NEEW logoDid you know that this week—April 14-20, 2013—is National Environmental Education Week? Hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation, this week is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. It is held each year the week before Earth Day to inspire environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. In 2013, the focus is on “Taking Technology Outdoors” with emphasis placed on the growing opportunity to engage today’s students in learning about the environment by “plugging into nature” through new technologies. Visit the National Environmental Education Week website for additional information about this event, including supporting activities and instructions for registering.

The Marin Municipal Water District is pleased to support environmental education through our Water Wonders Education Program for grades K-12. Our fun-filled, informative programs are offered free of charge to schools in our service area and are designed to support California education standards. Each year we provide school assemblies, field trips, classroom presentations, water quality lab tours and service learning opportunities to thousands of students throughout our service area. By teaching students about the source and use of their water, we hope to inspire them to take action to conserve this precious resource and to protect our watershed lands.

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by Robin McKillop

Marin-Friendly GardenMany gardeners in Marin—and beyond—are moving toward a more natural style of landscaping. They are replacing resource-guzzling lawns with native plant gardens, installing rainwater catchment systems, recycling yard and food waste into soil amendments, and attracting beneficial insects as a means of natural pest control. Their gardens conserve water and energy, recycle resources on site, thrive without the use of toxic chemicals, and display a diversity of plant and animal life. Some call it sustainable or ecological gardening. Others call it environmentally friendly or natural gardening. We call it Marin-Friendly gardening. It works in harmony with nature to create and maintain ecologically productive gardens, attuned to the climate, microclimate, topography and soils of Marin.

This place-based approach to gardening is basically a return to common-sense gardening where waste is minimized, natural processes are encouraged and utilized, and local conditions are considered. Nature is viewed as an inspiring partner, rather than a threat, and natural plant communities are used as models for garden design. Just as plants growing in nature survive without special fertilizers, chemical pest controls or heavy irrigation, plants in our gardens can do the same. By selecting plants that are adapted to local conditions—such as soil, light, moisture, drainage  and exposure—and allowing them to thrive naturally, Marin-Friendly gardeners are minimizing the impact of their gardens on our local environment.

Want to see Marin-Friendly gardening at work? Join us for the Marin-Friendly Garden Tour on Saturday, May 18.

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by Robin McKillop

World Water Day logoToday is World Water Day. First declared in 1993, World Water Day has been observed every March 22 for the past 20 years. Recognizing that the fulfillment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are heavily dependent on water, the United Nations declared 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation. The objective is to raise awareness of the potential for, and value of, increased cooperation in relation to water.

In many parts of the world, there is no indoor plumbing and people must travel long distances each day to get water. This chore falls mainly on women and girls who walk an average of 3.7 miles a day, carrying loads of 40 pounds in order to obtain water for their families. This job can take as long as six hours per day even though an average person in sub-Saharan Africa uses only about four gallons of water per day. Unfortunately, the daily chore of finding and transporting water often takes the place of education or other opportunities.

In the United States and other developed countries, technology has made using water very easy. We turn on the tap and clean water pours out, seemingly in an endless supply. A complex system of pipes, storage tanks, treatment plants and pumps is used to treat and deliver water to our homes, businesses, parks and institutions every day. In large part these systems are invisible to many of us. We don’t need to think about where our water comes from or where it goes after we use it. We just count on it being there when we need it.

This ease of use has resulted in a drastic increase in the amount of water we use today as compared to 100 years ago. Back in the “old days” many people had to pump and haul their own water for washing, cooking, bathing and other needs, creating a built-in incentive towards strict conservation. These days, the use of water is made even easier with appliances taking over chores like laundry and dishwashing. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on average a person in the United States today consumes about 100 gallons of water per day. The good news is that progress has been made over the past 40 years in stretching our water supplies through water conservation efforts and the introduction of new technologies like high-efficiency toilets, low-flow showerheads, and front-loading clothes washers.

Here in Marin, we are fortunate to enjoy a reliable supply of high quality water and a strong conservation ethic. Please show your support for World Water Day by taking action to conserve water, both today and beyond. Visit the official World Water Day website for additional information about the importance of freshwater and the need for sustainable management of freshwater resources.

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by Robin McKillop

Registration is now open for the 2013 Marin-Friendly Garden Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It only takes a minute to sign up using our online registration system, and there’s no charge to attend! We hope you can join us.

Aquaponic salad greens

Aquaponic salad greens

The 2013 tour features nine inspiring gardens that showcase a variety of environmentally friendly practices, ranging from conserving water to creating wildlife habitat. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the gardens on this year’s tour.

At this productive property, located in Mill Valley, it’s all about edibles—from fresh eggs to organic mixed salad greens and savory shiitake mushrooms. The backyard has a full-size chicken coop, built entirely of salvaged fencing material, which is home to a family of docile Chinese silkie chickens. Also in the backyard, you’ll find a homemade koi fish aquaponic system for growing mixed salad greens and watercress, as well as several shiitake mushroom logs, a mini-green house, a diversity of ornamentals and lots of eye-catching glass art.

Bottle tree

Bottle tree

Five deep raised beds are used to eliminate wet root problems associated with the site—formerly a salt marsh with poorly drained clay soils. These beds are used for growing a variety of perennial and annual cool season vegetables including artichoke, asparagus, saffron crocus, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and many kinds of berries and root crops that flourish in Mill Valley’s cool summers. Blackberries, raspberries and black raspberries are grown in 25-gallon pots to control their spread. Warmer season tropical plants are grown in the greenhouse. The soil is continually composted to add nutrients and improve drainage, and fava and red clover cover crops are grown to enrich the soil.

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by Robin McKillop

Falkirk Cultural Center gardenNow’s the time to mark your calendar for MMWD’s Marin-Friendly Garden Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 18, 2013, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Complete the simple online registration and reserve your spot today! There’s no cost to attend.

Participants will enjoy self-guided tours of inspiring residential and commercial gardens, along with garden talks at select sites. Featured gardens have been carefully selected to demonstrate a variety of Marin-Friendly gardening practices, working in harmony with nature to reduce waste and protect local creeks, waterways and watersheds. Host gardeners will be on hand to share their beautiful gardens, vast knowledge and real-world gardening experience with you on this special day.

For more information, visit our website or contact Trang at tbach@marinwater.org or 945-1521.

This tour, brought to you by the Marin Municipal Water District, is made possible with assistance from our talented host gardeners, enthusiastic volunteers and generous sponsors. Thank you!

We hope you can join us on May 18!

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by Robin McKillop

Marin-Friendly gardenWe are currently accepting applications for host gardens in Marin to feature on next spring’ s Marin-Friendly Garden Tour on Saturday, May 18, 2013.  This educational event will showcase beautiful and inspiring gardens that use practices sensitive to our local environment, particularly ones that protect and conserve our precious water resources.

We are looking for a variety of Marin-Friendly gardens, both homegrown and professionally designed and maintained, that incorporate sustainable elements such as low-water-use or native plants, edibles, permaculture, rain and stormwater catchment, composting, lawn conversions, graywater systems and more. This is an excellent opportunity for landscape architects, professionals and homeowners alike to showcase their gardening talents and successes.  The Marin Municipal Water District will provide docent support at your garden on the day of the tour to assist with making the event fun and satisfying for everyone.  We are pleased to announce that tour attendance will be free for the first time ever in 2013!

For additional information about the Marin-Friendly Garden Tour, and to download an application form, visit the Marin-Friendly Garden Tour webpage.  Priority will be given to applications received by November 15, 2012.

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by Robin McKillop

If you’re a busy parent, you already know that it’s back-to-school time! While you’re gearing up for another great school year, don’t forget to encourage your child’s teacher to participate in MMWD’s environmental education programs. They’re fun! They’re free! They’re educational!

Last year, MMWD’s Water Wonders environmental education programs provided outreach to thousands of students at 48 public and private schools in Marin. Though our programs, students sang and danced at musical watershed assemblies, learned about local ecology and water supply by hiking at Lake Lagunitas, pretended to be water drops in a water cycle game, removed French broom from watershed lands, hatched trout eggs and released fish, worked to restore and protect habitats, searched for water leaks at their homes, replaced wasteful showerheads with new water-conserving ones, and created amazing artwork to celebrate MMWD’s centennial. Our fact sheet provides more information about our 2011-12 programs.

During the 2012-13 school year, MMWD is pleased to continue to offer high quality environmental education opportunities to schools in our service area. Our Water Wonders brochure provides detailed information about all of our programs. This year, we are especially pleased to offer free “Historical Highlights” posters in commemoration of MMWD’s 100th anniversary, as well as Water Quality Lab tours for high school science classes. If you’d like your child to participate in any of our programs, encourage your child’s teacher to sign up soon. As always, our programs are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, free of charge. In addition, bilingual (English-Spanish) classroom presentations and assemblies are available.

MMWD’s Watershed, Water Conservation, Public Information, and Laboratory staff are looking forward to another great year teaching your children all about one of our most precious natural resources: water.

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