site site.xsl LongwoodGardens
section nav_section.xsl Passwords
page pg_standard.xsl The_Green_Room
Nancy Hicks, Senior Administrative Assistant-Education Department, and her family made a conscious decision to embrace an ecologically friendly lifestyle indoors and out. “My husband and I and our two teenage sons reuse, recycle, and compost as much as we can, and have greatly reduced our use of plastic bags. We throw out less than half of what we used to.”
The Hicks family also limits the use of power tools in the garden. “I hand-trim around the bushes,” Hicks says about the decision. “One of the fringe benefits of hand-trimming, and sweeping or raking instead of using a leaf-blower, is that I get a good workout. Doing yard work helps to keep you fit and flexible.”
She’s onto something there. Experts agree that working in the yard is a great workout—and autumn is a good time to start your new fitness regimen. Leave the gasoline-powered leaf-blower in the garage and exchange it for a cleaner environment and a healthier you!
Gardening burns calories and works all major muscle groups. Arms and shoulders reap obvious benefits, but your legs, core, and cardiovascular system get exercise also. Even a task like weeding helps improve strength, balance, and muscle tone.
Here are some ways to get a safe workout in the garden this season. (Check with your doctor before embarking on any strenuous activity.)
This fall, do like the Hicks family and think of “yard work” as a “yard workout.” Your garden will look great, you’ll reduce noise and air pollution, and you will do your body a world a good.
Director of Facilities Mark Winnicki knows a thing or two about shopping for vehicles that run on cutting-edge fuel sources. “One of our strategic goals for the garden is sustainability,” he explains. “As part of that, we have developed a `green fleet’ policy that takes into account vehicles’ usage and purpose, then puts together a number of factors to determine which vehicle is best suited for each job. We give preference to alternative fuel vehicles, starting with electric, then propane, then biodiesel.
“It still has to get the job done,” he adds. “I can’t buy a full-size electric dump truck…yet!”
Longwood currently runs a fleet of 149 vehicles. Eighteen percent are electric or hybrid, but that number jumps to thirty-four percent among the 73 off-road specialty vehicles that are used on small trails. When vehicles come into the shop for annual maintenance, or reach the point where it is no longer economically viable to run them, Winnicki and his colleagues talk with the users to assess their needs and see what the options are.
Being proactive means that Longwood’s willingness to embrace new technologies sometimes outpaces the availability of those innovations. “We try to bring in a sample vehicle to evaluate,” Winnicki says. “There have been a couple of false starts, where vehicles have turned out not to be very successful. The good news is that the market has begun to change, especially for electric vehicles.”
Winnicki notes that energy-efficient utility pickup vehicles (these are small work trucks, not SUVs) are starting to be manufactured. “You pay a premium if demand is low and the manufacturer is just getting started. We hope that we’re creating a market, which will drive the price down and encourage more gardens to purchase no- or low-emission vehicles. There are at least five or six manufacturers who are making these now.”
In concert with this effort, Longwood is developing best practices in relation to its fleet. These ideas will be shared with other public gardens and municipalities. As demand increases, a larger variety of affordable options should become available. “Urban areas, small parks, anywhere that small work vehicles are needed could really benefit,” says Winnicki.
Electricity is at the top of Winnicki’s list, but it isn’t the only fuel that’s cleaner than gasoline. Longwood has forklifts and a tram that run on propane. Pedal power isn’t overlooked: you may have noticed security personnel riding around on bicycles.
Winnicki is even looking at options for recharging vehicles with solar energy. “The golf carts have a roof on them,” he says. “There are opportunities to buy solar panels and put them on the roofs so the carts are one hundred percent sustainable. The price for the kits is prohibitive right now, but we are eager to try them when the cost comes down.”
Aside from the emissions, the biggest success has been the way energy-efficient vehicles enhance the guest experience. “They’re quiet!” says Winnicki. “We can work during normal business hours and not disrupt the enjoyment of our visitors. That’s been a big bonus, even potentially bigger than the fuel cost savings. It’s a great example of how doing the right thing doesn’t have to be a compromise—it can make us more successful.
element callout2.xsl BTGG_Days
Meet the arborists and gardeners that care for our trees and flowers throughout Spring Blooms, and see demonstrations throughout our Conservatory and outdoor gardens.
element callout2.xsl Fireworks___Fountains
Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
element callout2.xsl CE_2013_Catalog_3
Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
©2006-2012 Longwood Gardens. All Rights Reserved.