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GREEN HEROES: Celebrating 16 Who Matter on Earth Day

Jane Hess Collins
By Jane Hess Collins
Posted on Apr 06,2012
Filed Under News , Community, Entertainment , Local Style,
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Sunrise at Accokeek, MD. Accokeek has built the National Colonial Farm, a living history museum that depicts a Maryland family farm on the eve of the American Revolution.
Sunrise at Accokeek, MD. Accokeek has built the National Colonial Farm, a living history museum that depicts a Maryland family farm on the eve of the American Revolution.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - On April 22, more than a billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012 and help Mobilize the Earth. People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection.

Educators have brought their Watershed Explorers and River Habitat curricula to over 10,000 local schoolchildren, and students also engage in river field studies and engage in on-the-ground wetland restoration.
Educators have brought their Watershed Explorers
and River Habitat curricula to over 10,000 local
schoolchildren, and students also engage in river
field studies and engage in on-the-ground wetland
restoration.

For 16 local businesses, groups and environmental leaders, every day is Earth Day. So this week Local Kicks decided to choose and celebrate 16 local groups, businesses and eco-leaders who stand united for a sustainable future and who regularly call upon individuals, organizations, and governments to do their part.
 
Accokeek Foundation

Just over fifty years ago, plans were underway to industrialize the Mount Vernon area that Washington’s home overlooks.

Founded in response, the Accokeek Foundation became one of the nation’s first land trusts and was named protector of the hundreds of acres it sought to save.

Today, visitors hike a network of trails through the wetlands, visit a native tree arboretum, and observe an award-winning forest restoration project.

Accokeek has used part of the preserve to build the National Colonial Farm, a living history museum that depicts a Maryland family farm on the eve of the American Revolution.

Nearly extinct heirloom crops and heritage breed animals are preserved here for future generations. The Foundation’s organic Ecosystem Farm stresses the future of agriculture as organic farmers learn the tools of a new trade, and visitors follow their progress.

The Audubon Naturalist Society has been introducing residents to its local wild places since 1897.
The Audubon Naturalist Society has been
introducing residents to its local wild
places since 1897.

And the new Center for Agricultural and Environmental Stewardship teaches and inspires sustainability in agriculture and everyday life. The Foundation hosts over 35,000 visitors annually, including 6,000 students.

Anacostia Watershed Society

The Anacostia Watershed Society is dedicated to protecting and restoring the Anacostia River and its watershed– working hand-in-hand with local volunteers (over 7,500 to date) to restore the threatened habitat: growing and transplanting native trees and shrubs; organizing large-scale cleanups; stabilizing eroded streambanks; and monitoring water quality.
 
Educators have brought their Watershed Explorers and River Habitat curricula to over 10,000 local schoolchildren, and students also engage in river field studies and engage in on-the-ground wetland restoration.
 
Environmentally friendly recreational activities for local residents – like the annual Paddlesport Regatta and paddling clinics – help develop a vested interest in river and watershed protection.  

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, speaks at an event sponsored by the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the
Coalition for Smarter Growth, speaks at an event
sponsored by the Coalition for Smarter Growth.


Audubon Naturalist Society  

The Audubon Naturalist Society has been introducing us to its local wild places since 1897. Its mission is broad: to protect the region’s diverse natural habitats – forests, wetlands, water resources, and open spaces – through education, advocacy, and conservation.
 
The Audubon Nature Preschool starts with four-year olds, and school groups from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade take field trips to ANS's two beautiful sanctuaries where enthusiastic naturalist/teachers emphasize hands-on, interactive learning.
 
GreenKids, a unique collaboration with Montgomery County Public Schools, fosters the development of school environmental resources such as gardens, nature trails, and recycling programs, and plans are in the works to expand the program to every school in the county - and beyond.
 
Protecting and preserving natural habitats, and promoting sustainable, long-term transportation and development projects, are all part of the ambitious plan. In a world of increasing challenges and ever higher environmental stakes, supporting ANS just makes natural sense.

Volunteers doing some reforestation work at the Faiths Act and ONE Interfaith Service Project at Earth Sangha.
Volunteers doing some reforestation work at the
Faiths Act and ONE Interfaith Service Project
at Earth Sangha.

Coalition for Smarter Growth  

In the early 1990s, the Disney Corporation proposed to site a third U.S. theme park near Manassas National Battlefield in rural Virginia. The prospect of historic landscapes paved over like Orlando galvanized local citizens, environmentalists, and historic preservationists. Disney withdrew, but a new awareness was born. In 1997, leading conservation groups in Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia founded the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
 
Today, the Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization addressing where and how the Washington D.C. region grows. They have earned a respected reputation for its expertise, commitment to public involvement, and relentless advocacy for solutions to the interconnected challenges of housing, transportation, energy and the environment.
 
Their dedicated staff works in concert with governments, businesses, individuals, and community groups to ensure that the decisions made in transportation and development accommodate growth—and at the same time—revitalize communities, provide more housing and travel choices, increase energy efficiency and fight climate change, and conserve the natural and historic areas of the Washington region.
 

Brian Symmes (left), Whit Field (center), Vice President and General Counsel, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and Dave White (right), Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service discuss the history and knowledge that Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett brought to soil conservation. Natural Resources Conservation Service employees performed landscaping and maintenance work at
Brian Symmes (left), Whit Field (center), Vice
President and General Counsel, Northern Virginia
Conservation Trust and Dave White (right), Chief,
Natural Resources Conservation Service discuss
the history and knowledge that Dr. Hugh
Hammond Bennett brought to soil conservation.
Natural Resources Conservation Service employees
performed landscaping and maintenance work at
"Eight Oaks," Dr. Bennett’s home in McLean
in October, 2010.

The Coalition’s seminal Blueprint for a Better Region offers a vision for the future of the region and a framework for growth and inspired regional jurisdictions to make the Blueprint's principles central to their agendas. The region's future is ours to shape: come lend a hand.

Earth Sangha

Earth Sangha's Wild Plant Nursery, with over 170 native species in propagation, all generated from seed collected in local natural areas, supports numerous restoration projects by providing the most comprehensive selection of locally derived, native-plant material ("local ecotype" stock) in the region.

Its restoration work -- primarily invasive alien plant control and native-plant re-vegetation -- reaches 10-20 field sites per year and includes stream-buffer and parkland restoration.

A new Tree Bank nursery has 11 native Hispaniolan species in production, including one vulnerable, one near-threatened, and one endangered species.

Close to home, the School Greening program supplies native plants for gardening projects at five to eight elementary schools in Northern Virginia and DC. Working with nature for the sake of nature -- that kind of effort is not just an environmental necessity, but also a profound opportunity to redefine our humanity.

National Park Trust

Elevation Burger sources 100% USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range beef. Elevation Burger's cows are never given antibiotics and are raised in open, chemical- and pesticide-free natural grass pastures.
Elevation Burger sources 100% USDA-certified
organic, grass-fed, free-range beef. Elevation
Burger's cows are never given antibiotics and
are raised in open, chemical- and pesticide-free
natural grass pastures.

As America's population grows, and demographics change, there has been a steady decline in attendance at our nation's parks and a growing disconnect between children and the natural environment.
 
For more than a quarter century, National Park Trust (NPT) has assisted in acquiring privately held land within and adjacent to parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, and in developing, through more than 200 initiatives, public and private partnerships designed to safeguard critical parklands. Even more, NPT wants everyone to develop a passion for our valuable natural resources.
 
Its Youth to Parks National Scholarship program provides American park experiences to children in need, and Where's Buddy Bison Been? (www.BuddyBison.org) encourages kids, and their families, to take NPT's (stuffed) mascot to the nation's parks and share their adventures and photos with others.
 
In 16 months, 17 DC-area public charter, public, and private elementary and middle schools have joined the Buddy Bison program. The goal is to cultivate the next generation of conservation stewards -- and maybe even environmental professionals.

NPT just launched a new national grassroots initiative to empower kids across the country to explore parks in their neighborhood. The second National Kids to Parks Day will be held in May with a special kick off event on the National Mall for hundreds of DC children.

Sweetgreen is a green business through and through. The restaurants are solar/wind powered, the interiors are reclaimed (tables made from salvaged bowling alley floors), and the menus can be planted to grow sunflowers.
Sweetgreen is a green business through and
through. The restaurants are solar/wind powered,
the interiors are reclaimed (tables made from
salvaged bowling alley floors), and the menus
can be planted to grow sunflowers.

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

With over 5,000-acres of permanently protected lands – including 94 acres conserved along trails, 2,200 bordering parks, and 26 miles of saved streams – the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is saving nearby nature.

Encouraging private landowners and local governments to preserve and care for natural areas, historic sites, and cultural resources for the benefit of current and future generations, its Explore and Restore program has also contributed over 8,000 hours of volunteer services by planting more than 2,000 trees and removing tons of invasive plants from conserved lands and parks.

NVCT’s portfolio of protected properties includes some of the region’s most important treasures: the Potomac Gorge in Great Falls, Salona in McLean, the Glebe House in Arlington, Monticello Park in Alexandria, and the Potomac Creek Heronry in Stafford.

Preserving them increases property values, reduces soil erosion, maintains water quality, protects the Chesapeake Bay, and preserves access to the natural world for all of us.

Potomac Riverkeeper

The Potomac River watershed encompasses 15,000 square miles, touching four states and the District of Columbia as it flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

The only grassroots, on-the-water organization dedicated to healthy rivers and streams, Potomac Riverkeeper increases public awareness and promotes community action to protect a great natural resource. In partnership with local law clinics, it seeks to correct high-profile violations of environmental law and promote government accountability.

Potomac Riverkeeper has also created a presence on every riverbank: volunteer citizen monitors act as its “eyes and ears," reporting on fish, health, and wildlife conditions. It then draws media and political attention to public health concerns, forcing polluters to clean up their act.

Knowing that healthy rivers and healthy communities go hand-in-hand, Potomac Riverkeeper strives to ensure that all 383 miles of our river stay healthy. They recently launched a new initiative called Pure Potomac to bring more attention the Potomac River as the source of our drinking water.

Potomac Conservatory

The Potomac River is home to more than 200 rare species and natural communities. But the river is in trouble: rapid population growth has put tremendous pressure on land and water resources. A regional leader in protecting the health, beauty, and enjoyment of the river and its tributaries, the Potomac Conservancy is committed to providing effective and lasting conservation solutions.
 
Its programs address clear-cutting of riverside lands; poorly planned development; loss of open space; degraded water quality; and lack of understanding about river health.
 
Tree plantings, river cleanups, and other hands-on restoration activities improve the environment and also touch thousands of lives each year, instilling a sense of place and a "culture of conservation" that will be passed on for generations.
 
The Potomac faces unprecedented challenges -- but you can be part of a beautiful and lasting solution
 
Nick's Organic Farm
 
Nick’s Organic Farm encompasses a 165-acre certified organic farm near scenic Buckeystown, Maryland, in the fertile Frederick Valley, and 20 acres in suburban Potomac, Maryland.
 
Their goal is to minimize off-farm inputs through a diversified and integrated farming system, which combines animals under management intensive grazing and an 8-12 year crop rotation to raise vegetables, hay, pastures, grains, seed and livestock.
 

They raise cattle, poultry and crops at the farm near Buckeystown, and grow grains and seed stock in Potomac. The cattle are not fed any hormones, antibiotics or animal products. The 100% grass-fed cattle receive certified organic pasture, certified organic hay (in winter), water and mineral salts mixed with sea kelp, but never grain.
 
The poultry receive certified organic feed from grain raised on their farm and other organic farms, and they graze on organic pastures.

They conduct on-farm research with federal, state and non-profit agencies to refine organic practices.
 
With the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), they conduct research to improve their organic crops and to breed and manage their herd so that it has maximum natural resistance to disease without the use of synthetic chemicals. They have also participated in a university study documenting the nutritional advantages of grass-fed beef.

Owner Nick Marwell is a former Hill staffer. He is a founding member of the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA), the Maryland Small Farm Cooperative, and Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (Future Harvest-CASA). Nick has also worked closely with other farmers and scientists at the Organic Farming Research Foundation to publish the National Organic Research Agenda.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed Nick to a five year term as a member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) starting in January 2011. Nick has also been recognized for his efforts to advance organic farming, receiving most recently the “Spirit of Organic Award,” from Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine and the Organic Farming Research Foundation for 30 years of service and advocacy on behalf of organic agriculture.
 
DailyGreenDiva

Green blogger Dawnia Bell believes her most significant contribution to living green is sharing green – through her web site dailygreendiva.com she shares simple green tips and changes others can make in their homes like avoiding energy vampires, shop/dine/buy local, and buy fair trade when possible.
 
In her personal living, Dawnia uses an eco-friendly fireplace that burns denatured ethanol - opposed to wood or gas (which is toxic and adversely affects indoor air quality) and saves a bundle on her winter heating bill. She is now paperless of all bills, magazines, and books (using a Kindle2), makes most of her own cleaning products, grow organic herbs like lavender, basil, and mint. She lives in an apartment so she cannot grow vegetables.  

According to Dawnia, she has 7,000 followers through Facebook and Twitter. She lives in Reston.

Elevation Burger
 
Elevation Burger sources 100% USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range beef.  Elevation Burger's cows are never given antibiotics and are raised in open, chemical- and pesticide-free natural grass pastures.
 
Elevation Burger is committed to use of environmentally sustainable products such as bamboo flooring, compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED lighting, energy efficient equipment/appliances, and recycled materials in its restaurant build-outs.
 
Furthermore, many restaurants will register for LEED Certification. Practices such as converting waste olive oil into bio-diesel, purchasing Clean Energy Offset Credits, recycling in-store waste, not using polystyrene foam products, and running energy efficient equipment all contribute to Elevation Burger's sustainable approach to operations.  

HomeMade Pizza
 
They make fresh and all natural pizzas with six locations in the DC area. A few supporting facts about HomeMade’s natural efforts is that all of the ingredients HomeMade Pizza uses are preservative-free and are supplied by local vendors. The owners make a point of hiring locally. Whatever food products they can get locally, HomeMade will pull from the local market.
 
In addition to hiring local vendors, they hire local workers from the area when new stores open. HomeMade just opened its latest store in Glover Park, with lines down the street following the opening
 
 In HomeMade’s words, there are lots of good reasons to stay close to home. To them, getting ingredients locally means than getting it fresh—it also means supporting the communities where we live and work.  

Restaurant Nora
 
In April 1999, Restaurant Nora became America's first certified organic restaurant. This means that 95% or more of everything that you eat at the restaurant has been produced by certified organic growers and farmers all who share in Nora's commitment to sustainable agriculture.
 
Owner Nora Pouillon always offers seasonal, fresh organic food, prepared in a healthy, balanced way and enjoys a "big following" of environmentalists and politicians, who can eat here with a clear conscience, knowing that what's on their plate hasn't polluted the environment, is healthy for them, and tastes good too.

President Obama took his wife Michelle her for her birthday in 2010.  

Sweetgreen

Sweetgreen (DC and Philadelphia) is a green business through and through. The restaurants are solar/wind powered, the interiors are reclaimed (tables made from salvaged bowling alley floors), the menus can be planted to grow sunflowers.
 
Each time they open a new restaurant (of which there are 10), they offer free yoga classes to encourage a holistic lifestyle. They just announced the third annual Sweetlife Festival which proceeds will benefit the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.  

The three young cofounders started the restaurant while they were at Georgetown. They wanted a healthy alternative to fast food, so they created an eco-conscious lifestyle brand that delivered that and much more.
 
Washington Parks & People
 
Washington, DC has the continent's highest percentage of public, urban green space, yet vast sections of this extraordinary resource are under-used, especially in DC's poorest neighborhoods.
 
Washington Parks & People works to reconnect green spaces and communities. Down by the Riverside will transform the District's longest municipal park in Watts Branch and other green spaces along the Anacostia River; Oxon Run will reclaim the largest municipal park in Far Southeast DC; Friends of Meridian Hill will breathe new life into the historic parks and playgrounds of Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Shaw.
 
Mobilizing thousands of volunteers, WP&P transforms open-air drug markets into outdoor farmers markets; places of youth violence into vibrant playgrounds where residents can enjoy music, dance, theater, after-school programs, and even job training; and abandoned lots into revitalized community meeting places.
 
From Meridian Hill to Marvin Gaye Park, WP&P has demonstrated that parks can be "green engines" to help communities meet vital human needs.



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