Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

State Representative Jeffrey Roy Endorsed for 10th Norfolk District by Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund

The Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund has endorsed Jeffrey Roy  in the election for State Representative of the 10th Norfolk District, a credit to his commitment to the environment and climate action. With issues of public health, environmental justice, transportation, and energy policy inextricably linked, we need leaders at every level of government who understand the pressing issues of their community and will call for ambitious action. 
 
“Chair Roy was central to the passage of the 2021 Roadmap Bill, one of the strongest climate laws in the nation,” said Casey Bowers, Executive Director of the ELM Action Fund. “He also crafted the House’s offshore wind bill which will ensure the industry takes off in Massachusetts and provides the clean energy we need to reach our Roadmap targets. We’re grateful for his leadership in addressing the climate crisis.”
 
“I am honored and grateful to receive the endorsement from the ELM Action Fund, a group that has led efforts to fight global warming and has been a great partner at the State House in advancing climate policy,” said Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin). “Massachusetts has been a national leader in combating climate change and producing clean energy and I look forward to working with ELM to ensure that we continue to lead in this area.”
  
Chair Roy was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the 10th Norfolk District in 2012 and represents the residents of Franklin and Medway. He serves as the House chair of the Telecommunications, Energy, and Utilities (TUE) Committee. In 2021, he led efforts to finalize the Roadmap Bill on climate change. He is a proven leader in his work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prioritize environmental justice (EJ) communities.
 
To learn more about Jeffrey Roy, visit his website at https://jeffreyroy.com/.
 

The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization that helps pass laws that protect our environmental legacy, holds our elected officials accountable, and works to build the political power of the environmental community. To learn more about our work and our recent electoral victories visit www.elmaction.org/elections.  

 https://twitter.com/EnviroLeagueMA/status/1526571203992989696

State Representative Jeffrey Roy Endorsed for 10th Norfolk District by Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund
State Representative Jeffrey Roy Endorsed for 10th Norfolk District by Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund 


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Report: "Massachusetts Cities and Towns Leading the Way to 100% Renewable Energy"

"Cities and towns are taking ambitious steps to increase renewable electricity generation, reduce energy use, and shift to clean heating technologies, according to a new report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the center. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100% renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. These communities are showing how to make it happen.”

The report, Renewable Communities 2021, features the following seven case studies of Massachusetts cities, towns and regional agencies that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy. "

Continue reading the article online


Visit Environmental Massachusetts for more information ->   https://environmentmassachusettscenter.org/

Report:  "Massachusetts Cities and Towns Leading the Way to 100% Renewable Energy"
Report:  "Massachusetts Cities and Towns Leading the Way to 100% Renewable Energy"


Thursday, September 17, 2020

In the News: "Baker plugs police reform, climate investments"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"Beacon Hill has been nearly silent for more than six weeks since the House and Senate extended formal sessions beyond their traditional July 31 end, and Gov. Charlie Baker made a call Tuesday for legislators to wrap up their work on his State Police reforms and a $1 billion climate resiliency proposal.

Baker highlighted those two issues as priorities he hopes to see lawmakers advance, adding emphasis to those matters more than a month after wide-reaching law enforcement and climate bills were steered into conference committees for private negotiations.

When the topic of State Police came up at a Tuesday press conference, Baker said his administration referred about 40 individuals to state and federal attorneys for criminal review, then touted a bill he filed in January.

That legislation would make it easier to suspend troopers without pay following misconduct and create a “fraudulent pay statute” allowing the state or municipalities to seek triple the amount of damages from police who falsify timesheets, among other changes."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 
Gov Baker press conference on Tuesday = https://youtu.be/CtXQBsxbC9k 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Significant Drought Conditions Continue Across MA


"Due to four months of below normal rainfall, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared a Level 2 – Significant Drought in all seven regions of the Commonwealth – the Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands regions. The drought level remains unchanged from the previous month’s declaration. 

At a Level 2 – Significant Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, conditions are becoming significantly dry and warrant detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, emphasis on water conservation, more stringent watering restrictions, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.

“Although recent rain events have been helpful, the combination of four months of below normal rainfall and consistently above normal temperatures throughout the summer have led to very dry conditions in every region of Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. 

“All levels of government are coordinating to address these critical drought conditions, and it is essential that residents and businesses across the Commonwealth take extra care to conserve water both indoors and outdoors and be mindful of the increased risk of brush and wildland fire when using any fire or smoking materials.”
Continue reading the article on the MA.gov page  

Significant Drought Conditions Continue Across MA
Significant Drought Conditions Continue Across MA


Picked up for Franklin radar from Twitter  https://t.co/vccgSca2fD 


Monday, February 24, 2020

"a really creative solution to a longstanding environmental problem”

From the Boston Globe, an article of interest to Franklin
"About 19 miles east of Boston Harbor, beside a national marine sanctuary that’s home to one of the world’s richest fishing grounds, lies one of the nation’s largest offshore dumping sites of radioactive waste. 
In less than 300 feet of water, thousands of barrels litter the seafloor, a mile-wide toxic junkyard that fishermen call “The Foul Area.” 
It’s called that because many have tangled — or fouled — their gear in the barrel field, at times even pulling up containers filled with toxic chemicals. Government reports and congressional testimony over the years have suggested the dumping ground may include plutonium and other highly dangerous materials discarded after the completion of the Manhattan Project during World War II. 
Now, the federal government is trying to bury the barrels at least three feet deep with roughly 10 million tons of sediment dredged from a $340 million project to widen shipping channels in Boston Harbor. Capping the toxic material — which includes unexploded munitions — was seen as a safer way of minimizing risks, rather than trying to bring the rusting barrels to the surface."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/02/22/metro/mile-wide-toxic-waste-site-sits-ocean-floor-near-stellwagen-bank/

Location of the industrial waste site in Massachusetts Bay Source: New England District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Location of the industrial waste site in Massachusetts Bay Source: New England District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Saturday, January 25, 2020

“Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals”

While the MA DEP is making the rounds seeking public input on proposed regulations, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has come out with a report showing the problem might be more than estimated.
"The contamination of US drinking water with manmade “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group. 
The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems. 
The findings here by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low."
Continue reading the article online 
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/22/us-drinking-water-contamination-forever-chemicals-pfas

The link to the EWG report  https://www.ewg.org/research/national-pfas-testing/

Video link = https://youtu.be/R_D0tbKQGis




Saturday, January 11, 2020

EPA "has a long history of failing to act"

Via the Environmental Working Group:

"This week the House voted overwhelmingly to pass H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, which President Trump has threatened to veto.

The bill would set deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce ongoing releases of toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS, and to set a drinking water standard for two notorious PFAS chemicals.

“It’s never been clearer that it’s time for Congress to set tough deadlines to reduce PFAS releases into the air and water, set PFAS drinking water standards, and clean up legacy PFAS pollution,” said EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “If the Trump administration won’t take the necessary steps to protect the public from PFAS, it’s up to Congress to act."

In other news about the PFAS Action Act, EWG broke down EPA’s history of inaction when it comes regulating PFAS and told the story of a military firefighter pushing for Congress to act on the PFAS crisis."

Continue reading the article online
https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/01/ewg-news-roundup-110-trump-threatens-derail-pfas-action-california-fails

Related links

H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act
https://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-applauds-historic-bipartisan-pfas-vote

Trump threatens veto
https://www.ewg.org/release/trump-threatens-veto-after-missing-key-pfas-drinking-water-deadline

EPA's history of inaction on PFAS
https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/01/it-s-time-end-epa-s-long-history-failing-act-forever-chemicals

Environmental Working Group
Environmental Working Group

Monday, November 18, 2019

Pantherbook Series: Environmental Investigations

via Pantherbook we find:
"In recent years, environmental issues have taken center stage in political discussions across the globe. How do these large-scale issues affect Franklin? Answering this question is the goal of Pantherbook’s newest series, known as Environmental Investigations.

Each week, a new article will be posted detailing an ecological problem pertaining to Franklin High School, or the town as a whole.

The series will be kicked off by Anika Patchala, who will talk about FHS’s resident environmental activists: the Green Team. Halle Goldsmith will discuss recycling practices and Amanda Wylie will inform readers about plant-based meat as a solution to meat overconsumption. Next, Gretchen Scotland will detail the issue of forest fragmentation in Franklin. Amelia Johnson-Pelligri will investigate the purportedly unsustainable cafeteria practices at FHS. Finally, Elise Ravich will summarize the findings of other journalists by describing the most effective ways for readers to get involved."
Continue reading about the new series
https://franklinpanthers.us/top-stories/2019/11/15/upcoming-series-environmental-investigations/


Is Franklin doing a good job conserving beautiful landscapes like this one? (Photo by Emily Cesa)
Is Franklin doing a good job conserving beautiful landscapes like this one? (Photo by Emily Cesa)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"it’s something they should be aware of”

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"When determining if a beach is safe for swimming, local health departments and state officials measure levels of the bacteria enterococcus, which typically makes its way into marine water through fecal matter. High levels of enterococci in ocean water are a red flag that the water may also contain other disease-inducing microbes, which is why it is referred to as an “indicator” bacteria.

This is why beaches are often closed after heavy rainstorms — rain that isn’t absorbed into the soil or diverted can pick up fecal matter from pets and wild animals and flow it into the ocean.

“Stormwater is a major culprit for beach closures related to fecal bacteria,” said Bethany Traverse, coordinator of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment’s beach water testing program. “In any populated area, you have roadways and other infrastructure that affect the flow of contaminated water into the surrounding water bodies. When it rains, a lot of water is diverted into storm drains and away from bathing areas. But it’s not perfect; bird and animal waste will make its way into the water and storm water helps it get there in a rapid ‘flush.’”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
https://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20190813/just-how-much-waste-is-in-that-water-youre-swimming-in/1

The full Environment America report
https://environmentamerica.org/feature/ame/safe-swimming

More than half of the thousands of beach sites sampled for bacteria across the country were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2018
More than half of the thousands of beach sites sampled for bacteria across the country were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2018

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Legislature Passes Balanced Budget with Targeted Investments in Education, Housing, Environment

Per Senate President Karen E. Spilka:
"Today (Monday) the Massachusetts Legislature passed its Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $43.1 billion, the budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund’s balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.

“I am proud of this fiscally responsible budget that supports the needs of individuals, families, and communities across the Commonwealth through thoughtful investments that increase local aid, strengthen our health care system and protect the environment,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This budget bolsters our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis, invest in high-quality early education and care and makes another significant deposit into the state’s Stabilization Fund. These investments will have a long and lasting positive effect on the residents of Massachusetts. I want to thank Chair Michlewitz for his leadership and my colleagues in the House, especially those on the conference committee, who worked to put this package together.”

“Education is a top Senate priority, and I am therefore proud of the significant investments we make in K-12 education in the final FY2020 budget,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Not only have we voted to advance the largest year-over-year increase in Chapter 70 education funding in the last two decades, we have also made a substantial down payment towards funding the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). In addition, we fund health and wellness in schools, and provide considerable increases in reimbursement for special education, charter schools, and regional school transportation. Finally, I am very pleased that the conference budget includes $10 million in new funding for mental and behavioral health. These funds will allow the Commonwealth to address the root causes of many of the challenges facing our residents, including substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment and schoolbullying, among other things. I commend all of the members of the conference committee for their very fine work on this budget.”
Continue reading the full copy of the press release on the Joint Budget for FY 2020
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0wjbnXDBhczNnNMbzZDNFBwX1k4OVR0dktMQlFHVEFVR3Fr/view?usp=sharing

 While the bill was filed Sunday per the article the web page had not yet been updated as of Monday evening. The budget should find its way here eventually
https://malegislature.gov/Budget/ConferenceCommittee
 

https://malegislature.gov/Budget/ConferenceCommittee
https://malegislature.gov/Budget/ConferenceCommittee

Thursday, January 10, 2019

“If we don’t take care of that, we don’t have to worry about education"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"Senate President Karen Spilka told a room full of environmental advocates on Wednesday that nothing the Legislature does in the next two years will be as important as addressing climate change, but the Democratic leader gave no assurances of what that policy solution might look like. 
Spilka, who was elected to her first full term as president last week, dropped by a breakfast event where she described a “real sense of urgency” on Beacon Hill to tackle climate change. 
“We all agree this is a matter of some urgency. It’s just how are we going to accomplish what we want to accomplish,” Spilka said at a breakfast at Carrie Nation organized by the Environmental League of Massachusetts. 
Spilka, of Ashland, asked activists in the room to step forward with “smart, practical, implementable ideas.”

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
https://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20190109/climate-change-at-top-of-spilkas-list

The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) is committed to combating climate change
The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) is committed to combating climate change

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

“The schools don’t exist in isolation"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"In response to two incidents late last school year where a swastika was found drawn on the wall of a school building, administrators are taking steps to keep hate out of Franklin schools. 
“We knew that when we came back in the fall we would want to revisit this to reassure our students and our families that we are committed to a welcoming and respectful environment,” said Superintendent Sara Ahern. 
Last school year, there were three separate incidents of the hate symbol being scribbled on walls. The first was found in one of the elementary schools in late winter. In June, two more swastikas were found at other schools. 
Though unable to find who was responsible, Ahern said she plans to fight back with education and awareness. Instead of simply erasing the swastikas and putting the ordeal behind them, Ahern is keeping the issue front and center."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required) 
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20170911/franklin-schools-act-against-hatred

flower boxes and positive messages line the walk way to Remington Middle School
flower boxes and positive messages line the walk way to Remington Middle School

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"Collapse" the Chronicle show about honey bees features Ed Szymanski in one segment

via Ed Szymanski
"Collapse", the Chronicle show about honey bees (yes, I'm in it) will be re-aired this Friday night, Ch. 5, 7:30 PM. 
It's a great show talking about the troubles bees face and what is being done. 
Not just saying that because I'm part of it."

screen grab of the Chronicle intro
screen grab of the Chronicle intro

If you are out and about on Friday, here are links to view the video segments from the WCVB 5 archives

http://www.wcvb.com/.../chronicle-why-are-the.../41786964

http://www.wcvb.com/.../chronicle-theyll-take.../41787238


http://www.wcvb.com/.../chronicle-make-your.../41787062   (Ed is in this one!)

http://www.wcvb.com/.../chronicle-eat-candy-save.../41787050


screen grab of bees from the Chronicle show
screen grab of bees from the Chronicle show

For more about Neonicotinoids  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonicotinoid

And "Beyond Pesticides"  http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/chemicals-implicated

For more about Ed  http://www.pchman.com/


Friday, September 30, 2016

State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy Scores High in ELM Action Fund Environmental Legislative Scorecard

The Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund (ELM Action Fund) is pleased to recognize Representative Roy, who achieved an excellent score in the organization's 2015-2016 Legislative Scorecard on the environment. It rates true legislative action, not merely votes. And it challenges AIM's recent scorecard criticizing legislators on energy policy as lost in the 19th century and failing to represent the long term interests of their own members.

"When it came to votes this session, Representative Roy supported our pro-environment agenda, but didn't stop there. Representative Roy demonstrated his commitment to conservation. The ELM Action Fund is pleased to recognize him as an environmental champion," said ELM Action Fund President George Bachrach. "We look forward to continued work together to protect our environment, improve public health, enhance quality of life, and grow our green economy."

"I was honored to be recognized by the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund for my record in protecting the environment," said Rep. Roy (D–Franklin). "Laws and policies that protect our natural resources and foster clean energy sources have been a priority throughout my time in the House. These policies not only protect our planet, but they contribute to economic development, improve health, and offer recreational opportunities."

http://www.elmaction.org/legislative-scorecard/
http://www.elmaction.org/legislative-scorecard/
Beyond votes, the ELM Action Fund awarded additional points to lawmakers who led by sponsoring important legislation or authored "Dear Colleague" letters, and deducted points from legislators who filed anti-environment legislation. The ELM Action Fund also challenges lawmakers for the practice of "voice votes" on controversial issues which are not recorded roll call votes. This practice prevents voters from truly gauging which representatives and senators are truly on their side.

"Legislative scorecards are common but this is unique, measuring leadership, not just votes," said Bachrach. "This is our best effort to give voters a sense of who is really on their side in the critically important work that takes place out of public view."

To view the scorecard, visit bit.ly/scores15 .

Monday, May 16, 2016

In the News: no room for fireworks this year, environmental oversight budget cuts hurt

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin

Council member Thomas Mercer said the fields at the new high school - where the fireworks would be launched - were the holdup. 
"We have not accepted the fields from the contractor," Mercer said, adding that the town would have to take ownership of the fields before it could hold the display there. "As the chairman of the building committee, I'll tell you they're not ready." 
The town, said Nutting, did not have any other proper launch locations, which would include adequate parking, decent visibility and a certain amount of space. 
"We had the state fire marshal out here, and we went everywhere," he said. "We went from place to place to place with him, and couldn't get any satisfaction."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20160515/franklin-does-not-have-place-to-launch-fireworks-officials-say



"Basic environmental protections for Massachusetts residents have unraveled in the last 15 years as deep budget cuts and shifting political priorities take hold. 
The state has slashed bacterial testing of lakes, rivers and other surface water by more than two-thirds in the last decade, according to state-reported data analyzed by The Eye. Inspections of contaminated properties and waste and water sites, meanwhile, have dropped 24 percent from fiscal year 2001."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20160515/years-of-budget-cuts-disarm-massachusetts-in-environmental-fight

Friday, January 8, 2016

Strategic Materials fined for violating state air pollution control and wetland protection regulations

"The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $17,200 penalty on Strategic Materials, Inc. of Houston, Texas, which operates a glass recycling facility at Kenwood Circle in Franklin, for violating state air pollution control and wetland protection regulations. 
State of MA DEP
State of MA DEP
Strategic Materials holds an air quality permit issued by MassDEP, which establishes emission limits and operating requirements for the glass bottle-crushing facility. Inspections conducted by MassDEP staff in 2014 identified violations of both the permit and the Wetlands Protection Act regulations."

Continue reading the press release by the State of MA DEP
http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/releases/franklin-recycling-facility-assessed-17200-penalty.html

Friday, April 20, 2012

Franklin, MA: Earth Day

Prepare today for Earth Day Sunday. Very little is mentioned on the Franklin website other than the one notice about registration for Earth Day. When you follow the link you find:
Thank you for your interest in the Franklin Earth Day event on April 22nd, 2012! For over 10 years, the Town of Franklin has conducted this event in an effort to educate the public on recycling, beautification, and general clean up of the town. This year, we are taking online registration for those folks looking to lock in a location in Town that they are interested in cleaning. Please select the area in town you are interested in cleaning and let us know specifics about your planned clean up. Gloves and trash bags can be picked up ahead of time at the Recreation Dept (150 Emmons St).




Saturday, October 9, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin



Last week I told you that this tree is nearly extinct. Perhaps you've heard of it: the American chestnut, Castanea Dentata. This magnificent tree once dominated the East Coast. These giants could grow 100 feet tall and five feet or more in diameter. Imagine our current forests twice as tall as they are now, with oak trees standing as understory trees. That is what our forests used to look like.

Chestnut was a mainstay of the timber industry - the wood is hard, lightweight, straight-grained, extremely resistant to rot, and it grows fast. The trees produce copious quantities of nuts edible to both humans and animals, making this tree a linchpin of the East Coast's ecosystem.





So, what happened to the chestnut? A hundred years ago, an imported Chinese chestnut tree brought with it fungus. This fungus spread from tree to tree, killing them down to the roots. Over the course of fifty years, almost every American chestnut was killed - up to four billion trees.

Chestnuts are tough trees, and to this day, the roots of some of those old trees continue to put up new growth. That is what you are looking at above. This new growth almost never gets large enough to produce fruit before the blight once again kills it to the ground, so there is no hope of these remaining trees reproducing.

The chestnut pictured above is one of several like this that can be viewed just outside of Franklin's YMCA, at the Franklin State Forest, growing along the road. And at least one more grows at the DelCarte Open Spaces park. They lurk in areas that have escaped development, slowly dwindling to extinction.





But there is still hope for the American Chestnut. A scant handful of trees remain that continue to produce nuts. On their own, these trees are too scattered to continue the species. However, there are breeding programs hard at work on preserving these vitally important trees.




This is an entire orchard of American chestnuts. These are the ongoing work of The American Chestnut Foundation. The TACF crossed the American chestnut with the Chinese chestnut, and has been breeding the results again and again with American chestnuts for three decades in the hope of arriving at a tree that is mostly American, but which contains the Chinese gene for resistance to the blight.

This particular orchard is located at Idylbrook Field in Medway, and is open to the public. This is a piece of American history in the making, and a beacon of hope to restoration efforts of all sorts. But visit it soon: next summer, most of these trees will be cut down. This is the next step in the breeding program. The oldest trees are seven years old, and some have produced their first crop of nuts. As a part of the breeding program, the trees were inoculated with the blight this year. Next year the most healthy trees will be kept for breeding and the rest will be eliminated from the gene pool.

You can support the breeding efforts by becoming a member of the TACF, or by volunteerig at Idylbrook Field when the opportunity arises. Stay tuned: they will be needing some help when it is time to cut down those trees.


Michelle Clay writes about gardening here in Franklin at the Clueless Gardeners Blog.

Franklin, MA

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin

Greetings Franklin! It has been two weeks since I posted the last mystery plant - sorry for that unexpected delay. The hint for this week's plant is "the fruit is a lot more interesting than the flowers." And here is the flower:



I cheated here: I had to aim the camera up into the flower to get a good picture. The flowers are a pretty yellow on the inside, and they bloom from summer all the way through until the fall, but they hang downward like bells, so they aren't particularly showy.

The plant itself is a foot or two high, a bit fuzzy, perennial, and , if you know your veggie garden plants at all, you might think it looks like a tomato or potato plant. That's because it's a relative. This is called ground cherry, or more specifically, "clammy ground cherry", or Physalis heterophylla. And just like its more well-known veggie cousins, this plant has edible parts.





Ground cherry is perhaps most closely related to the tomatillo. Just like the tomatillo, it produces edible fruit in a papery husk. This is what the husks look like when they are developing.




And these are the husks when the fruit is ready to harvest. Which, by the way, is right now, so get out there and look in the weeds for this plant. If you find some, you may get a tasty treat.



The fruit itself is a marble-sized berry that is yellow or orangy when ripe, and tastes like a combination of a tomato and pineapple.

One word of caution: like the tomato, tomatillo, and potato, this plant is in the nightshade family of plants. Nightshade plants are all typically poisonous to some degree, which is why we don't eat tomato leaves or green potatoes. To be safe, don't eat any portion of the ground cherry plant except for the ripe berries.

But don't let this put you off from sampling these delicious native fruits! Ground cherries used to be more common as backyard vegetable garden plants, but seem to have been forgotten in recent years. I hear they make good pies, but I wouldn't know, because I ate all of my berries before I had a chance to cook them.

Here is next week's mystery plant. It's a tree actually.



Here's a hint: this tree is nearly extinct. I'll tell you all about the effort to restore the tree in next week's post, along with where you can go to see it growing in and around Franklin.


Michelle Clay writes about gardening here in Franklin at the Clueless Gardeners Blog.

Franklin, MA

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin

Greetings Franklin! Did you recognize what type of plant last week's mystery flower belongs to?




If you said "grass" you are correct!




I'm a little embarrassed to say that I'm not sure which type of grass this is. I had thought it was big bluestem, Andropogon gerardi, but I lost the plant tag. Drat. At any rate, it's a native grass that I bought from Garden in the Woods a few years back, and it has been a show-stopper in my garden ever since.




This particular native grass grows into a very tall clump, that, as you can see, is currently almost as tall as me. But native grasses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, quite a few of which are fun for gardens as well as good for wildlife.




You may not have ever thought before about grass having flowers, but grass is a type of flowering plant. You just have to look closely to see the flowers.

You typically don't see flowers on mowed lawns because the grass needs to reach a taller height in order to produce flowers.

Native grasses aren't typically used in lawns. However, unlike the imported lawn grasses, native grasses handle our native growing conditions far better than their lawn counterparts. The grass I show above, for instance, remained emerald green throughout this summer's drought, even though I hardly ever watered it.

The next time you find yourself in a unmowed area, have a look at the grass, and see if you can't spot the flowers.

Here is next week's native plant:




Here is a hint: the fruit is a lot more interesting than the flowers.

Happy plant-sleuthing!

Michelle Clay writes about gardening here in Franklin at the Clueless Gardeners Blog.

Franklin, MA