Perfect Earth Project to Host a Free Workshop for Local Homeowners

Join the Perfect Earth Project and the Nature Conservancy for a free workshop on Sunday, October 9.

Who doesn’t like free landscaping and home maintenance advice? Come to the Sustainable Practices for East End Watersheds: A Free Workshop for Local Homeowners, hosted by landscape designer Edwina von Gal on Sunday.

You may have seen von Gal on television, sitting around Ina Garten’s dining room table. Dressed in layers of monochromatic linen, von Gal’s sun-kissed skin and spiky hair scream “sophisticated yet edgy,” like a lot like her designs, including Garten’s garden.

Although we admire her sense of style, we love von Gal because she embodies the true meaning of the overused phrase, “giving back to the community.” She’s quietly been there for local schools, whether it’s helping to design an edible garden in the Springs or a playground surface in Sag Harbor.

Two years ago, von Gal decided to focus on helping homeowners improve their own property. Perfect Earth Project, her non-profit organization, aims to take the toxins out of landscaping and in doing so, improve water quality.

On Sunday, the Perfect Earth Project, along with The Nature Conservancy of East Hampton and Friends of Georgica Pond, will offer a free workshop. Representatives from Hollander Design Landscape Architects, Farm Design, Piazza Horticultural,  Geoffrey Nimmer Landscapes,  James C. Grimes Land Design and Fort Pond Native Plants will join von Gal to provide free one-on-one consulting to attendees.

Talk to the experts about cutting-edge landscaping and nitrogen-reducing septic technology, as well as other ways to maintain your home and yard, without toxins.

Remember all chemicals have the ability to negatively affect your health. Without a doubt, they affect the health of our water bodies. Studies have shown that storm water runoff and the contents of archaic septic systems lead to harmful algae blooms.

Chemicals kill indiscriminately. They may solve a short term problem but in the long run, they’re bad for your lawn, your family, the bays, the harbor, the finfish, shellfish and even drinking water.

The PRFCT goal is to turn every landowner and landscaper into a land steward. Each person in attendance will receive “The PRFCT Yard Handbook,” 100-pages of easy-to-follow suggestions.

The booklet goes into detail on PRFCT’s four principles: “Water deep, mow high, feed and seed in fall, and leave the leaves.” There are also tips on how to avoid mosquito breeding, deal with pests and how to read, aerate, irrigate and feed soil (hint: clovers are our friends.)

Learn to talk to your landscaper with help from a glossary of terms, where to place plants properly and the difference between organic and chemical fertilizers. “Synthetic fertilizers are like junk food for your plants – full of empty calories.”

To raise money, for outreach programs such as the workshop and booklet, von Gal threw the best party of the summer, fueled by Luke’s Lobster bite-sized lobster rolls, Uma Temakeria sushi hand rolls, Le Fusion spring rolls, Martha Clara and Channing Daughters wines and Montauk Brewing Company.

Guests roamed the massive, green (toxic-free) lawn of her neighbor, photographer Cindy Sherman. Von Gal, of course, had a hand in designing the property that runs into Accabonac Harbor.

Tall native grasses buffer a wide area between the lawn and the water. A pond, equipped with stucco and stone pump house, does double duty as a root cellar and the edible garden is used as a privacy wall to separate the pool from the house. We’re talking big kale here.
perfectearth_2016_lcmorris-51

The pool area became an impromptu “green room” for the musicians who played the event: Suzanne Vega, G. E. Smith, Rufus Wainwright, and Debbie Harry of Blondie fame. Harry blew the roof off the Sperry Tent.

Watching Martha Stewart stroll through Sherman’s barn doors with her four dogs and two dog handlers, and then listening to Harry belt out her major hits like “Call Me,” while the sun set over Accabonac Harbor, was surreal, in the very best sense of the word. Of course, the Casa Dragones “lavender” drink did not hurt.

Here’s the recipe to my favorite drink served at the Perfect Earth Project’s party. Make it for cocktail hour. Sip it on your back porch, overlooking a healthy, toxic-free lawn.

What the Water Gave Me

Ingredients:
1.5 oz Casa Dragones tequila
1 oz Morris Kitchen grapefruit hibiscus mixer
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
Splash of Prosecco

Method:
Shake all the ingredients together except procecco. Pour in a wine glass with ice. Top with prosecco and garnish with a lavender flower. (The lavender is important. I chewed on mine. Hopefully I didn’t have purple flowers stuck in my teeth.)

No tequila at the workshop, but there will be coffee and snacks. It’s limited to 75 guests, so reservations are required.

WHEN: Sunday, October 9, 2016 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Nature Conservancy’s Center for Conservation 142 Rt. 114, East Hampton

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Kelly Ann Smith lives in East Hampton between Gardiner's Bay and Accabonac Harbor. She's been writing about the East End since 1995. Her weekly column, "A View from Bonac," can be found in the East Hampton Press.