Cooperation from Mother Nature for Earth Day Month Kick-Off at Greenwich Point

By Leslie Yager
The Earth Day month kicked-off on Sunday at Greenwich Point with nary a sign of winter.

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Addison Yost and Laura Stasio, both GHS juniors, handed out bags for volunteers to use to fill with litter during the beach cleanup. Credit: Leslie Yager

With a perfect blue sky and mild temps, the outdoor events included a first-Sunday bird walk, a beach cleanup and a dune grass planting.

Meanwhile, the Floren Family Education Center inside the Innis Arden Cottage, was a hive of activity that culminated in an Earth Day proclamation read by Selectman David Theis.

ImageThe beach cleanup project was spearheaded by the Sound Waters interns and Sound Waters educator, Amy Arent.

Ellen Hebrand, a Sound Waters intern who is a junior at Darien High School, said she and her fellow interns hail from Greenwich, Stamford and Darien.

Hebrand said, “We work on the aquarium tanks at Sound Waters in Stamford, feed the animals and meet together to plan beach cleanups,” Hebrand said. “This is the first of three,” she added, mentioning that future cleanups are planned for beaches in Darien and Stamford.

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Sound Waters intern Michael Barnaba who attends AIT in Stamford.

The cleanups are the culmination of months of planning. “We have been meeting since October to talk about current events that have to do with environmental science and we decided to focus on pollution and water quality of Long Island Sound,” Hebrand said.

Inside Innis Arden Cottage the Floren Family Environmental Center, Frank Cantelmo, a professor of Aquatic Ecology at St. John’s who lives in Old Greenwich explained what is in a drop of water in Long Island Sound.

Cantelmo offered up his microscope for a magnified drop of water, which indeed revealed lots of action.

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Professor of Aquatic Ecology at St. John’s Frank Cantelmo, GRAB’s Sally Davies who is busy planning the April 26 paper shredding event, shellfish warden Gina Gould and Rep. Livvy Floren took a moment to say hello to a live horseshoe crab.

Cantelmo explained all about Ostracods which are organisms found in Long Island Sound water. “We have a tremendous variety of organisms in the water of Long Island Sound. Ostracods are important because they transfer energy from the water column to the bottom of the Sound – to the clams, to the oysters. How? They consume different things like algae — Ostracods love algae – And filter feeding organisms like clams and oysters suck up small plankton organisms.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 6.15.47 PMHealthy Water Quality
‘Planktons’ come from the Greek route meaning ‘to wander,’ Cantelmo said. “These organisms cannot swim against the directed current. They just go up and down in the water column. There are zooplankton and phytoplankton, which are plant plankton. Both of which are essential to healthy water quality,” added Cantelmo. “I’m please to report that we have an abundance of both in Long Island Sound.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 6.16.07 PMPatty Sechi’s Greenwich Community Gardens table was a popular stop for those interested in gardening.

In 2014 a new 1-1/2 acre community garden on Bible Street opposite the Garden Education Center in Cos Cob will supplement the existing 125-bed strong Armstrong Court Community Organic Garden.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 6.18.37 PMDune Grass Planting Event
Dozens of volunteers planted dune grass on Sunday. Landscape architect and master gardener Cynthia Lupo, who is a member of the Horticulture Committee of the Friends of Greenwich Point, said she had bought dozens of the dormant beach grass plants in Dennis MA on Cape Cod and brought along dozens of garden trowels for the volunteers, many who were earning community service hours for school.

“They may not look like much now, but they’ll green-up in May,” Lupo said of the dormant native plants from the dune restoration project.

Lupo said her group previously planted native grasses on the north side of Innis Arden Cottage, but that was tricky. “We had to rebuild the dune first,” she said, referring to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Theis: “Let’s Work to Make Earth Day Every Day in Greenwich”
David Theis said he is glad to see that Earth Day, which is celebrated  each year on April 22, is growing in importance. “We need to speak out as citizens when we see an example of or unnecessary or excessive development because it crowds out the wildlife and natural resources we enjoy. Because when it’s gone it doesn’t come back. We need to be outspoken when we need to be,” Theis said.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 6.16.20 PM“Also, remember to recycle, buy in bulk and use reusable shopping bags. And most importantly,” Theis continued, “Volunteer. Do whatever you can do. Let’s work to make Earth Day every day in Greenwich,” Theis added before reading an Earth Day proclamation that April is Eerth Day month in Greenwich.

Putting the Green in Greenwich Poster Contest
A highlight of the Earth Day Month is the PTAC Green Schools Committee poster contest for all Greenwich students from Pre-K through grade 12. Students are invited to express their favorite ways to put the Green in Greenwich and submit artwork and entry forms to the Garden Education Center during Earth Week, April 21-26. Winners will recognized at a ceremony on May 8. More information contact ptacgreenwchools@gmail.com.

Earth Day month kick-off was hosted by the Greenwich Conservation Commission and Greenwich Public Schools PTA Council Green Schools committee, in coordination with the Shellfish Commission, Friends of Greenwich Point, Audubon Greenwich, Greenwich Green & Clean, Greenwich Community Gardens, Garden Education Center, Bruce Museum, Mianus River Watershed Council, and the Greenwich Point Conservancy.

Related activities and educational opportunities throughout the month of April include lectures, bird walks, community gardening, the Bruce Museum Exhibition, “Pasture to Pond: Connecticut Impressionism,” and an April 26 paper shredding event at Island Beach parking lot. (Click for Earth Day month calendar on the Town of Greenwich website).

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