Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Inc.

Middletown office:
deKoven House Community Center
27 Washington Street
Middletown, CT 06457

Phone: 860-346-3282
Fax: 860-346-3284

Welcome to Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District
soil and water conservation since 1946

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is
to promote the sound use and management of natural resources in our 26-town area.

The District provides technical assistance and education in:

♦ soil and water conservation
♦ erosion and sedimentation control
♦ stormwater management
♦ watershed protection

 Our programs and services are provided to:   

♦ municipal staff and land use commissioners
♦ private residents
♦ agricultural producers
♦ the public
♦ the development community 

The Connecticut River Watch Program, a citizen monitoring program for the Connecticut River and tributaries, is one of the District's flagship programs.

The District receives financial support from municipal contributions, the State of Connecticut, an
annual native plant sale, state, federal and private grants, and private contributions.


Film Screening: Chasing Ice - November 9, 2015

Please join us on Monday, November 9 for Chasing Ice, the next film presented as part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series!

As described on the Chasing Ice website, "in the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk...deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers."

Refreshments will be served (but please bring your own drink/water bottle), and there will be time for informal discussion after the film. We hope you can join us! If you have questions, please contact our office, 860-346-3282.


68th District Annual Meeting Features Hike at The Preserve in Old Saybrook

The District's 68th Annual Meeting on October 24, 2015 drew a large crowd to celebrate The Preserve, along with our 2015 Conservation Award Winners (download PDF list). Attendees joined District Board and Staff at the Saybrook Point Pavilion to elect board members, take a look back on our conservation highlights of the past year, hear about and honor the accomplishments of our award winners, learn about the long effort to protect The Preserve and plans for public use of the property, and enjoy a cool fall hike on one of the properties' many trails. The hike was led by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator with Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who played an important role in protection of The Preserve and is now active with the committee planning for recreational use of the property in balance with protecting natural resources.

The Preserve--a 1,000 acre coastal forest in Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook--was protected permanently in spring of 2015, a happy conclusion to a long effort that began in 2003 when development of the land was first proposed. Preservation of this significant property ensures a key link to over 500 acres of existing parkland and hiking trails will remain open to the public and provide a place to connect with nature close to home. The extensive woodland includes 38 vernal pools, 25 miles of trails, and more than 3,100 feet of streams. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including many species of special conservation concern, and is used as a refueling stop by migratory birds. The Preserve also plays a critical role in protecting water quality in the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, which flow into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

Below (left), accepting the Preserve the 1,000 Acre Forest award are (L to R) Kathy Connolly (Old Saybrook resident), Alicia Sullivan (CT Trust for Public Land), and Chris Cryder (CT Fund for the Environment), along withTom ODell (Conservation District Board), and Jane Brawerman (Conservation District Executive Director).



CT River Coastal Conservation District Board Members Wanted!

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Board of Directors is presently seeking interested people from our 26 District towns (link to map) for consideration for Board vacancies. We are looking for energetic and visionary people with a strong interest in protecting natural resources, who are willing to accept responsibility for overseeing District operations to assure effective and ethical management and support in partnership with the Executive Director and Staff.

The District is a nonprofit conservation organization established by State Statute whose mission is to promote the sound use and management of our natural resources through technical assistance and education. We assist municipal staff and land use commissions, work on watershed scale water quality assessment and improvement projects, help agricultural producers plan and implement sustainable practices, implement on-the-ground restoration projects, and help build awareness about natural resources through educational programs and resource materials, among other efforts.

A copy of the District Board Member Job Description is available here (link to PDF job description).

Please send a letter of interest outlining background and experience to For further information contact the District office at 860.346.3282.


DIRT! The Movie Screening a Success


The screening of DIRT! The Movie, presented as part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, was a great success! A good crowd of over 60 were in attendance at the Goldsmith Family Cinema to join us in celebrating the International Year of Soils, one of the reasons we chose this film. The film provides an in-depth view of why soil is such an invaluable natural resource, threats to soil health and productivity, and how tied soil is with so many significant global, environmental, political and social concerns. For more information go to the film's website.



Tree Swallows Out in Force for Cruise and Wine Tasting Fundraiser!

A fun time was had by all on our August 25, 2015 Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program, the Conservation District’s citizen monitoring, protection and improvement program for the Connecticut River and tributaries. The weather held out and the RiverQuest departed from Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam at 5:30 pm as scheduled. Cruise goers enjoyed a beautiful evening on the CT River, tasting wines, dining, bird-watching (bald eagles, cormorants, great blue herons, and of course, tree swallows), and conversing with friends, new and old. We were all regaled by stories of the river and notable features along the way from Captain Mark, and learned about wildlife--in particular birds--from crew member and Master Naturalist, Mindy.  At dusk, the tree swallow show did not disappoint, with huge numbers of birds filling the sky and swirling around before settling into the marsh for the night.  

A big thank you to all who supported our efforts to engage citizens in river monitoring activities by attending the cruise, sending donations, and of course, to our sponsors who made it possible, including CT River Expeditions, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, R2 Graphics and Clinton Nurseries.


Durham-Middlefield High School Team Wins CT Envirothon

Kudos to the Coginchaug Regional High School CT Envirothon Team for winning this year's 24th annual CT Envirothon, placing first out of forty-two teams! CT Envirothon is a high school natural resource education program begun in 1992 by CT Conservation Districts. As part of the year-long curriculum, teams of students, mentored by their teachers, learn from web-based resources and hands-on workshops covering soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatics and a changing current issue. In late May, they test their skills and knowledge at a field competition, this year held at Connecticut College Arboretum.

Coginchaug H.S. team members, advised by Science Department Chair Susan Michael, included Amelia Bianchi, Natalie Charette, Tyler McDonald, Matthew Sawicki, and Lilian Zhou, and alternates Ryan Gossart and Troy Willis. The team is pictured below sporting their hard-won medals. Please join me in wishing them a hearty congratulations! See the District's press release for more information about the team and the CT Envirothon (link to PDF press release).



Second Environmental Film in New Series Shown in May

The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series continued with a screening of WATERSHED: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, on May 4, 2015 at Middlesex Community College in Middletown. The new environmental film series was launched on March 30 in partnership with the Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, Wesleyan University's College of the Environment and Center for the Arts, and The Rockfall Foundation. The screenings are open to the public and free of charge.

Thirty-five people attended the film and participated in an informal discussion following the screening. Delicious baked goods were provided by ION Restaurant in Middletown. WATERSHED is executive produced and narrated by Robert Redford, and has received numerous awards. Using the Colorado River as an example of issues facing rivers around the world, the film tells the story of threats to the "once-mighty Colorado River, now dammed and diverted and struggling to support 30 million people." It offers solutions for "meeting the competing interests of cities, agriculture, industry, recreation, wildlife and indigenous communities with rights to the waters...and the future of the American West." In the film we learn about competing demands and uses from a fly fishing guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, a Colorado rancher, a Delta restoration worker, a Navajo Council member, a Colorado mayor, a Los Angeles native, and a group of Outward Bound teens rafting down the Colorado River, who all reflect on how a new water ethic can result in coexisting with enough for all.

The Colorado River is just one of many similarly significant rivers that run dry from overuse before they reach their outlets ( Others include the Indus River in Pakistan, Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers in Central Asia, the Rio Grande River in N. America, the Yellow River in China, the Teesta River in India, and the Murray River in Australia.

Our next film, Chasing Ice, will be shown in September at Wesleyan University (date TBA). Once again, refreshments will be served, and there will be time for informal discussion after the film. We hope you can join us! If you have questions, please contact our office, (860) 346-3282.  


January 2015 Newsletter Features Article on District's Roots

Our January 2015 edition of Conservation Times is now available (link to PDF newsletter). In addition to a cover article, "The Dust Bowl, the Conservation Districts, and a Celebration of Soils," the newsletter includes updates on our Coginchaug Watershed water quality assessment work, and our Horse Manure Management Project, among other activities. There is also a news flash about an exciting new environmental film series we are launching with partners. Check it out! 


2015 Plant Sale a Success!

Thanks to everyone--our many customers and volunteers--who supported the District through our 24th annual plant sale, held April 24-26, 2015 at the Old Saybrook Shopping Center! Though pre-sale orders were slow to start--likely thanks to the perisistent blanket of snow and cold weather--the sale was a great success, with almost all of our extra stock sold during the days of the sale. Customers took advantage of the opportunity to select from our extensive and exciting variety of Connecticut native shrubs, ground covers, evergreen tree seedlings, flowering perennials, grasses and ferns, as well as culinary herbs; and add edibles, pollinator plants, and plants suitable for a variety of conditions and uses, such as waterside buffers and rain gardens to their landscapes. Popular items included the special boxed selections for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, along with Collins Organic Compost (from Collins Powder Hill Farm in Enfield, CT).

If you missed this year's sale but would like to learn more about our offerings, you can see the full brochure with plant descriptions and prices here (download PDF brochure). Please contact our office if you have any questions or would like be added to our mailing list for next year's sale, (860) 346-3282.


2014 Annual Report Published

We are pleased to announce that the District's 2014 Annual Report is now available. Click on the image below to link to a PDF of the report.


CRCCD 67th Annual Meeting Features Tour of Urban Oaks Farm in New Britain

New Britain’s Urban Oaks Organic Farm was a wonderful setting for the Conservation District’s 67th annual meeting, held on a warm sunny day in late October. The program featured a talk and tour led by Mike Kandefer, Urban Oaks Founder and Farm Manager, and Joey Listro, Education Coordinator. Our staff and board were joined by friends and partners to hear about highlights of our past year’s conservation work; learn about and honor the accomplishments of our 2014 conservation award winners; and hear about the history of Urban Oaks, the education and outreach programs, and tour the farm’s extensive fields and greenhouses. Participants were even encouraged to taste the delicious salad greens and other produce as we toured the farm, and took advantage of the opportunity to shop at the excellent farm market, which was kept open an extra hour especially for our annual meeting! 

Everyone enjoyed our visit and tour of the farm, and was impressed with the success of the operation, the variety of foods grown there, and the tie the farm has forged with the neighborhood and surrounding community. Begun in 1999, Urban Oaks is the first urban farm of its kind in the nation. The 3.5 acre nonprofit certified organic farm works to nourish the local communities and greater CT with high-quality produce accessible to all; provide education and employment opportunities; and showcase economically viable, progressive, organic farming methods that promote and provide sustainable, ecologically sound agriculture in an urban environment. Urban Oaks grows a wide selection of heirloom and specialty vegetables and fruits, including award-winning salad greens, for area restaurants, caterers, schools and the local community. Education programs highlight organic gardening methods, composting and other sustainable practices, and provide hands-on learning and job opportunities for neighborhood children to promote a connection to the land. We encourage you to visit the farm and see for yourself how a blighted inner city area was transformed into an urban oasis.  



Technical Assistance Available for Horse Owners

Given that one horse produces approximately 8 tons of manure each year and uses 3 tons of bedding material, managing horse waste properly is essential to prevent environmental impacts. As part of a program funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to improve nutrient management at horse operations, the District has been providing technical assistance to horse owners free of charge. While the grant project is now completed, the District will continue to offer this assistance.

If you have a horse operation, or just a few backyard horses, and would like to learn more about management practices to protect water quality and available technical and financial assistance, please contact our office! We will be happy to schedule and on-farm assessment to identify  management concerns, recommend improvements, and advise on how to get help with planning and implementation. Assistance is available to anyone in our 26-town area: Berlin, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Hebron, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Marlborough, Middlefield, Middletown, New Britain, Newington, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, Rocky Hill, Salem and Westbrook. 


Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed: The Lake Hayward Demonstration Buffer

In spring 2013, the District collaborated with the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Watershed to establish a buffer on Lake Hayward in East Haddam with the help of the Lake Hayward Association and Landscape Designer, Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes. The buffer is part of a project to promote use of vegetated buffers along streams, lakes and ponds to enhance wildlife habitat and protect water quality throughout the Eightmile River Watershed, funded in part by The Rockfall Foundation. In addition to the Lake Hayward demonstration buffer, this multi-component project consists of a Buffer in a Bag, a packet of trees, shrubs and flowering perennials suited for areas that might get flooded periodically, offered at the District's annual plant sale in 2012 and 2013. The project also includes education and outreach about the benefits of waterside vegetated buffers and information about how to create them. A poster, Waterside Buffers for the Eightmile River Watershed (link to PDF poster), has been developed to place in town halls, libraries, as well as several outdoor areas (e.g. the Lake Hayward pavillion and Devil's Hopyard State Park kiosk).

For more information, including photos and a planting plan, check out, and

Before planting the buffer the area was all turf

Lake Hayward Association volunteers assisted with the planting under the direction of Kathy Connolly, Speaking of Landscapes

One of the three segments of the buffer several months after planting


Copies of Invasive Plant Guide Available

Copies of our popular invasives guide are now available again, thanks to funding from the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area (RC&D)!! This guide was developed to help landowners identify and control non-native invasive plants in their yards. Invasive plants thrive outside their natural range, threatening the health of our native plant and animal communities. Controlling invasives is a challenge, but the benefits are great!  Download a PDF of the guide (1.3 MB), or contact us for hard copies. (link to PDF guide)


Updated Backyard Water Resources Guide Available

The second edition of our popular guide, The Backyard Water Resources Guide: A Guide to the Stewardship and Protection of Backyard Wetlands, Ponds, Streams, Lakes, Rivers and Estuaries, is published, thanks to generous support from the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development Area!  Copies are available in our office, or you can view the guide here (link to PDF guide).


Rain Recycling with Rain Barrels

Learn about the benefits and how-tos of rain barrels from this new brochure published by the Conservation District (link to PDF brochure)! 


Clean Water Paddle Draws Enthusiastic Group of Boaters

The joint Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District paddle on the Mattabesset and Connecticut Rivers on August 10, 2013 was a great success. We had a big turnout and a fun morning on the river, not to mention incredibly beautiful weather. Everyone was excited about the opportunity to participate in the group paddle, and the feedback afterward was all very positive. We started in Cromwell at the Mattabesset River Canoe/Kayak Trail launch, and took out at Harbor Park in Middletown. After getting organized and shuttling cars and people back and forth to the takeout spot, everyone heard from Jacqueline Talbot, CRWC's CT River Steward in Connecticut, and CRCCD Executive Director, Jane Brawerman about each organization's--and the state's--efforts to keep our rivers clean and build awareness about water quality issues.

On the river, we had a impressive flotilla of about 20 boats. As we paddled down the Mattabesset River through Cromwell Meadows, sightings included an adult and an immature bald eagle; a great blue heron; black ducks and lots of ducklings; black crested cormorants; a kingfisher; an eastern kingbird; barn swallows; and lots of painted turtles. There were also many beautiful fields of cardinal flowers, and large stands of wild rice. It is a truly special spot--an amazingly peaceful and ecologically rich refuge, not far from a busy commercial area and several major roads. If you've never had the chance to enjoy it, you should definitely go for a paddle there! Thanks to CRWC for inviting us to partner with them on the Clean Water Paddle, and The Rockfall Foundation for the grant funding that provided boats for a number of participants.

Organic Lawn Care at Home

The District and Middletown's Project Green Lawn partners hosted a program for homeowners in early June 2014 focused on maintaining safe and healthy yards, just in time for summer outdoor fun! Many people don't realize that traditional lawn care methods can use dangerous chemicals that are very harmful to people, pets and our environment.  The program was held at Russell Library in Middetown. Matt Carroll, co-owner of Jessica's Garden in Marlborough, CT, taught us the steps to having beautiful, healthy lawns that are safe to play on. Topics covered included the benefits of soil testing, aeration, and re-seeding, as well as organic methods of dealing with weeds and fertilizing, along with recommended products. We are planning for another lawn care program in the fall, so stay tuned!

Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting Raises Fun and Funds!

Our 9th annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting on the CT River to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program, held on August 27, 2013 was another great success!  A warm late summer evening, beautiful scenery, delicious food, plentiful fine wine, a sky full of swallows and many other bird sightings (bald eagles, cormorants, great blue herons...), and a boatful of fun people! What more could you want?!?

Thank you to our generous sponsors--CT River Expeditions, Priam Vineyards, Organic Vintages, Clinton Nurseries and R2 Graphics--and all of the cruise participants for supporting our efforts to engage our communities in working for cleaner rivers.

District Holds Workshop: Horse Keeping to Protect and Improve Water Quality

Did you know that one horse produces approximately 8 tons of manure each year? Add to that about 3 tons of bedding material, and the total amount of waste per horse per year is 11 tons!

The waste produced by horses, and other livestock for that matter, makes it essential that livestock operations are properly managed to prevent environmental impacts.  This spring, the Eastern Connecticut and Connecticut River Coastal Conservation Districts joined together with the Connecticut Horse Council to hold a workshop on best management practices for horse owners.  The program, held at Killingworth Equestrian Center, featured a tour to learn firsthand from practices in place at the facility.  The workshop was part of an effort funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to improve nutrient management at horse operations, primarily in coastal areas.

Participants, some with large facilities and some with a few horses, learned how to make a contribution to protecting and improving water quality by using best management practices, and about technical and financial resources available to help with planning and implementation.

Presenters included Dr. Jenifer Nadeau, Associate Professor and Equine Extension Specialist, University of Connecticut; and Javier Cruz, District Conservationist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Thank you to all who attended, to our presenters, and to our hosts at Killingworth Equestrian Center.

To learn more about technical assistance and cost-share funding available to horse owners, please contact our office.


65th Annual Meeting Features Tour of Wellstone Farm

Friends and partners of the Conservation District joined staff and board members at Wellstone Farm in Higganum, CT on Saturday, November 3, 2012, a beautiful fall day, for our 65th Annual Meeting.  The program featured a very informative tour of Wellstone Farm, a two acre biologically managed farm growing vegetables, flowers, berries and herbs, led by Ian and Melissa Gibson, the mother and son team who own and run the farm.  Participants learned about the CSA (community supported agriculture) operation, the farm's focus on organic principles and healthy soil, as well as the many environmental initiatives and sustainable practices implemented at the farm, including a composting facility, nutrient management practices, a micro-irrigation system, and energy conservation.  Following the tour, everyone gathered to hear about the Districts's 2012 conservation highlights (link to pdf of Year in Review), then for a ceremony honoring our Conservation Award Winners (link to pdf list of conservation awardees). 


District Holds Workshop on Managing Livestock to Protect and Improve Water Quality

Farmers and other interested community members attended the Conservation District's evening workshop on managing livestock waste, held on October 25, 2012 at the Durham Public Library.  The workshop was planned as part of ongoing efforts to improve water quality in the Coginchaug River watershed, with funding from USDA-NRCS.  While intended primarily for agricultural operations in the watershed's towns--Middletown, Middlefield, Durham and Guilford--others were also welcome.  Presentations were geared toward any size operation, ranging from a few backyard animals, to larger horse, cattle, dairy, pig , goat, sheep, etc. farms.  Presenters included Dr. Jenifer Nadeau, Equine Extension Specialist at UConn, who discussed recommended management practices to reduce pollution from livestock; Joe Wettemann, Senior Sanitary Engineer with CT DEEP, who provided an overview of manure, wastewater, and mortality management to minimize water quality impacts; and Javier Cruz, District Conservationist with NRCS, who reviewed technical and financial resources available to plan, design and install conservation practices.  In addition, Dino Esposito, owner of Stoneridge Farm in N. Guilford, spoke about his positive experience working with NRCS and the Conservation District to plan and install a number of water quality improvement practices at his farm.  Attendees also received a packet of resource information.  Based on feedback received from participants, everyone felt the workshop was informative and useful.  See the workshop flier for more information (link to PDF flier).



Coginchaug River Cleanup a Success

On September 29, 2012 the District and Middletown Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Center held a successful annual Coginchaug River cleanup at Veterans Park in Middletown.  The cleanup was held in conjunction with the Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup, an annual four-state community cleanup of the Connecticut River and tributaries coordinated by the Connecticut River Watershed Council.  Many thanks to teacher Courtney Johnson and her students, members of the community, and the City of Middletown for their efforts to help clean up the river.

Volunteers for the 2012 Coginchaug River cleanup haul the prize--
a shopping cart lugged up a steep and slippery slope--into the
dumptruck provided by the City of Middletown


2012 Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting Enjoyed by All

What better way to spend a lovely late summer evening, than tasting wine, eating gourmet food, and enjoying the beauty of the lower Connecticut River?  On Thursday, August 30, 2012, fifty-two supporters joined us aboard the RiverQuest for our 8th Annual Tree Swallow Cruise and Wine Tasting to benefit the Connecticut River Watch Program.  The event featured local wines from Priam Vineyards in Colchester, organic wines from all over the world provided by Organic Vintages, a delicious dinner from The Cooking Company in Haddam, all topped off by stunning scenery, bald eagle sitings, a beautiful sunset, an almost full moon, and a most amazing tree swallow show, one of the best ever seen by many of us!!!  Door prizes were also given out, including gift certificates for the Conservation District's annual native plant sale, and a cruise for two on the RiverQuest; a copy of The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey; bottles of Priam wine; and gemstones donated by local gemologist, Jim Sipperly.  A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors whose generous contributions made the cruise possible: Captain Mark and First Mate Mindy Yuknat of the RiverQuest; Gloria Priam and Gary Crump of Priam Vineyards; Organic Vintages; Clinton Nurseries; Jim Sipperly; and R2 Graphics.  Many thanks also to our enthusiastic cruise participants who helped make the event such a great success...and so much fun!


Demonstration Rain Garden Built in Old Saybrook as Part of Workshop

A beautiful and functional rain garden is now featured at the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook as a result of our "Build a Rain Garden" workshop held in September 2011.  The workshop drew a great group, who came to learn about rain garden benefits and design, and then pulled up their sleeves to help construct the rain garden on-site.  We were excited to partner with the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Program, and The Rockfall Foundation on this project to to build awareness about the "green" benefits of rain gardens and promote their use to reduce storm water runoff and protect water resources.  The rain garden, with accompanied educational signage completed and installed in 2012, will serve as a learning tool and inspiration for library patrons.  For more information about the project, see the cover article in our newsletter (link to PDF of newsletter).  To link to a PDF of the sign, click on the sign image below. 


Healthy Fall Lawns Program Features Scott Reil

As a follow-up to the spring screening of the documentary about the health and environmental risks of lawn care chemicals, A Chemical Reaction (see below), Project Green Lawn hosted a talk on making the switch to organic lawn care methods on September 12, 2011 at Russell Library in Middletown.  There are many things to do in the fall to prepare your lawn for the spring growing season,like seeding and spreading compost, and it is also an excellent time to begin the transition to organic methods, according to local organic land care professional, Scott Reil, who presented the program.  Scott provided many tips along with a schedule for when to do what to have beautiful organic lawns that aren't harmful to us, our pets or our environment.  Sponsored by Project Green Lawn (go to Community Outreach tab).


Second Annual Screening of A Chemical Reaction an Inspiring and Eye-Opening Event

Over fifty people came out on a rainy night in March to Middlesex Community College to watch our second annual screening of A Chemical Reaction, an inspirational documentary about the dangerous health effects of lawn chemicals and a community’s successful campaign to ban them in Canada.  The film followed Paul Tukey, a former lawn care practitioner and founder of SafeLawns, on his path across the county and into Canada to spread the word about the dangers of lawn chemicals and how to have beautiful, lush lawns organically.  Paul’s own health was affected from using lawn chemicals and at his doctor’s advice he made a transition to organic methods.  He now has extensive experience maintaining organic lawns.  Through the movie Paul tracked the progress of Dr. June Irwin’s efforts to ban lawn care chemicals from her town due to the medical problems she was seeing in her patients.  The ban passed, was upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court and eventually spread all across Canada. 

After the film Scott Reil, a Connecticut accredited nurseryman, organic lawn care professional, and representative of SafeLawns, led a discussion on organic lawn care. He answered many questions ranging from how to make the switch to organic methods, to how to deal with poison ivy, and whether crabgrass really is bad for your lawn. 

Community leaders attending the event included State Representative Matt Lesser, Middletown Common Councilmen David Bauer and Dan Drew and the Director of Middletown's Water & Sewer Department, Guy Russo. 

The evening ended with a drawing for a variety of fun door prizes.  Winners received low water use plants suitable for use in place of grass (donated by Scott Reil); The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey, and a plant sale gift certificate (donated by Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District); The Healthy Home Book by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz (donated by Cindy Snow), a Middlesex Community College t-shirt (donated by the college); and a Green Cone food digester (donated by the Middletown Public Works Department).

Little yellow signs popping up all over at the time of the screening announced the beginning of lawn care season--the time to think about what we apply to our lawns.  The film makes a compelling case for chem-free, organic lawns, not only the safe choice, but the choice for sustainable, healthy and lush lawns.  When human health is at stake, “better safe than sorry” as one expert aptly told it.   

More information on the film can be found at   If you missed the screening but would like to see the film, contact Kim O'Rourke, Middletown's Recycling Coordinator at 860-344-3526 or  Other useful information about organic gardening can be found on Scott Reil’s website,, and on the SafeLawns website,

The film screening was held as part of the Project Green Lawn public awareness campaign to encourage residents and businesses to maintain healthy lawns free of chemicals that are harmful to people, pets and the environment.  For more information about the campaign go to the Education page on our website (Community Outreach tab).


Workshop Participants Learn About Creating Backyard Wildlife Habitat

Beginning in 2006 we were pleased to collaborate with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Project Green Lawn Partners to promote backyard conservation for wildlife at on-site seminars highlighting a Middletown resident's yard.  The last such program was held on Sunday, October 4, 2009, when 20 people gathered to learn from Eleanore Milardo's yard, transformed from a lawn dominated 3/4 acre suburban lot into a diverse array of plants and habitats, now featuring 120 native species planted to enhance wildlife value. DEP Wildlife Biologist Peter Picone gave an information-packed onsite presentation and walking tour, highlighting the relationship between the native plants and abundant insects, birds, and mammals that now share the garden. 

At the workshop, we were pleased to present Eleanore with an award from the District in recognition of her ongoing efforts to transform her suburban lot into a haven for wildlife using native plants, and to teach and inspire others with her yard. 

In June 2010, we were saddened to learn of Eleanore's passing.  As it was her wish to allow continued use of her property for workshops, we hope to continue the tradition.



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