Cheltenham EAC’s Sustainable Spaces Showcase

The Cheltenham Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) hosted its third annual Sustainable Spaces Showcase.  Residents, businesses, and organizations were encouraged to submit pictures or videos and a brief description of how they are maintaining a sustainable space or sustainable practices.

The showcase’s sponsors were Primex Garden Center, Wyncote Audubon Society, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, and Friends of High School Park.

These were this year’s participants:

Entry #1 Glenside Free Library

“Our Library Garden at the Glenside Free Library has come back to life after a pandemic break.  This year, we replaced timbers for the garden and introduced more sustainable choices.  We planted companion plants to reduce pest activity (tomatoes and marigolds), planted pollinator-friendly plants to attract more pollinators (Beebalm/Monarda and Sunflowers) and have relied entirely on our rain-barrel for watering the garden.  

The Library uses the garden several times a week with multi-age groups.  We have Story-Time aged toddlers sampling lettuces and marveling at the growth of broccoli and peas, and school-age groups (elementary, tweens, and teens) assist with weeding and watering our entirely organic garden.”

EAC SSS entry 2 2022
Entry #2 Cuker Family

“Some of the sustainable things we do in our yard include:
– Flowers that attract bees and butterflies
– Using the back of the house for climbing plants, which also provides a nesting spot for birds
– Using a rain barrel to water our raised bed organic vegetable garden
– Composting
– Never using pesticides or herbicides on our lawn.”

EAC SSS entry 3 2022
Entry #3 Coby Waks, Native Plant Landscaping LLC
Native Plant Landscaping LLC, based from 324 Montier Rd Glenside, launched in Fall 2020. 

“Creating and maintaining beautiful ecologically-beneficial pollinator garden beds and landscapes, that’s what I do. Planting trees and sewing seeds. By using plants that naturally occur, we are restoring our ecosystems and bringing nature back to our homes and communities. Our goals are as large as reforesting and rewilding all of America, and as detailed and personal as planting one tree at a time. I am trying to do my part, to preserve the natural North American Ecosystem, to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and to put it into trunks and roots, and to fight back against climate change. This is my company, this is who I am. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. This is just the beginning!”

EAC SSS entry 4 2022
Entry #4 Cathy Callan and Jim Napolitano
“Our journey into sustainable gardening has been slow and steady, starting in upstate New York almost 20 years ago.  We were on a tour of a native meadow near Thatcher’s Park outside of Albany, when our guide pointed out a plant that would never flower because the wasp that pollinates that specific native plant had gone extinct.  We started learning as much as we could about how to preserve our native plants, and their pollinators, about watersheds, and meadows and woodlands. 

“And now we are here, in Cheltenham, for about 9 years, and our property has been transformed into a native habitat sanctuary.  A stream runs through the property.  With the help of TTF Watershed, we planted a riparian garden on both banks to protect the water, affording us the added benefit of a variety of bird species including mallard ducks, the occasional red tail hawk, and a screech owl.  We are gifted every year with hundreds of butterflies and native bees (although I am sad to say that the native bees have diminished significantly in the past two years).  In the midst of a bustling suburban neighborhood we have a quiet, shade dappled oasis that we pray will become the norm for homeowners in our lifetime.”

EAC SSS entry 5 2022

Entry #5 Judith Gratz

“The goals for my garden are fourfold: First, it must be as welcoming as possible to pollinators, birds, and small animals. They are my greatest concern. Second, it must be planted with mostly native perennials. Third, it must be casual, not perfect looking. Fourth, it must have as little lawn as possible.”

EAC SSS entry 6 2022

Entry #6 Kurt Ahrens

“I have always been a supporter of growing food and reusing or returning resources to the earth.  I am including a picture of my 2-year compost pile, which I manually turn over each spring, transferring the 2-year old section to my vegetable garden, and starting a new section for yard waste and plant-based kitchen scraps.  My rain barrel captures water from the roof of my garage.  I use this water for the garden, but I also try to remember to empty the barrel before it rains, so that it can capture water that would otherwise run down the driveway.  Among the fruit and vegetables I grow are rhubarb, horseradish, okra, tomatoes, peppers, arugula, and raspberries.”

EAC SSS entry 7 2022

Entry # 7 Friends of Curtis Arboretum

Since its inception as a 501(c)(3), Friends of Curtis Arboretum (FoCA) [1250 Church Rd, Wyncote, PA 19095] has been working on a more environmentally sustainable landscape for this historic asset.  It’s both daunting and exhilarating for committed volunteers to coordinate with the public property owner for worthy stewardship of more than 45 public acres.  All this has been within the context of the property’s Master Plan and no predictable, dedicated budget.

EAC SSS entry 8 2022

Entry #8 Brigette Potgieter

“When we moved into our home along Tookany Creek just over two years ago, there were barely any native plants, the yard being mostly daylilies and hostas.  We have since planted the following native species: pawpaw, spicebush, witch hazel, sweet bay magnolia, coral honeysuckle, fringe tree, red maple, ninebark, big bluestem, coneflower, goldenrod, muhly grass, river birch, black willow, wild bergamot, eastern prickly pear, and others.”