It’s autumn, leave those leaves!

By Kelly Rondeau

The smell of autumn permeates the air. The cool, crisp weather signals fall’s annual crimson-colored foliage. For many an avid lawn keeper, the harvest season often means returning to the never-ending chore of raking and bagging leaves, then setting them at curbside for the weekly garbage haul-off. But stop right there.

Leaves are packed full of nutrients! Under normal growing conditions — with varied values, based on the source and condition of each tree — leaves are jam-packed with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, chloride, boron, iron, sodium, copper, and zinc. To simply rake and bag them up, only to be hauled off to the garbage landfill is a total waste of nature’s vast supply of rich nutrients, perfect for replenishing the soil.

So how do you go green in the fall? Start the process by not throwing away your leaves. There are alternatives. Mowing leaves, then mulching, and composting are the most effective way to reuse and recycle leaf mixtures. In addition, leaves can be used for overall soil improvement, directly working them into garden and flowerbed soils by tilling them in.

The “Go Green Initiative” helps teachers, parents and kids green their campus

By Kelly Rondeau

It’s back to the books for kids across America and going green in the classroom has never been so easy. With the help of a popular program called the Go Green Initiative, teachers have quick and simple access online to all the tools and resources needed to green a classroom, an entire school, or even a school-district.

Serving as the charter and flagship school for the Go Green Initiative, Walnut Grove Elementary School, in Pleasanton, Calif., first found out about the program in 2002 when Jill Buck, a mother of three, and PTA president, got creative and began asking “What else could we do to go green?”

“The school was doing some gardening, composting and recycling, but I wanted to do more, so I sat down at my kitchen table and started writing up the initiative,” said Ms. Buck (pictured left). “That was in 2002, and since then the program has just grown and grown: we’re now operating in all 50 states in the US, we’re in 13 countries, and on 4 continents; our website gets over 2 million hits a month; it’s an amazing program. Schools are finding us on the Internet and simply by word of mouth.”

Walnut Grove’s principal, Bill Radulovich, comments, “It all started here on my campus, as Jill (Buck) was my PTA president. As the charter school for this program, she first starting designing ideas to partner with waste management to help us with recycling waste, and that grew into networking and working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funds that are distributed to different programs.

“Where once we had cardboard boxes to hold are recycling items, we now have huge 55-gallon gobblers, these huge barrels with slots that are really cool. She helped us gain more methods in the form of recycling and reusing and how to be more efficient overall.”