I was so happy to see that Columbia Association (CA) practices a lot of green, environmentally sound practices in its land management and landscaping practices. CA makes its own compost, wood chips and mulch from the organic materials it gathers around CA open spaces and facilities.
Last week when I was visiting the CA Maintenance Facility to see the arrival of the pansies, I walked past the wood chip pile, the compost pile and the mulch pile at the back of the maintenance facility property. I had heard from Sean Harbaugh, open space assistant division manager, and Jan Clark, landscaping architect, about how CA gathers these organic materials. But now I got to see the process in action.
The first pile I passed was the wood chip pile. Whenever CA has to pull down a tree or clean up tree debris after a storm like the Derecho we experienced this summer, that wood is gathered and put through a woodchipper. Those wood chips are then used around CA at places such as the tot lots.
The second pile I found was the remains of the leaf mulch pile. In the fall, CA collects leaf debris from around Symphony Woods Park and from around the facilities. Leaf debris is brought back to the CA Maintenance Facility to turn into leaf mulch. This leaf mulch is then used during spring and fall plantings.
The last pile I found was the compost pile. This pile is getting fresh material right now as the landscaping specialists and open space teams pull out all the summer annuals and put in the fall/winter annuals. This compost is then added to all the annuals and perennials around CA facilities and open spaces as natural plant food.
It was so nice to see this natural process at work at CA; using plant materials first as decoration, shade and soil retention and then reusing these same plants for water retention, soil retention, plant food, and soft, safe play surfaces once the plants have died.
CA has a lot of property, however, and can’t use all of it’s natural waste materials for wood chips, mulch and composting. For the surplus of materials, a private company, currently Edrich, takes these materials to make wood chips, mulch and composts. Rest assured, these materials do not go into landfills.
This is a practice we all should be doing at home too. We read about it. We know it. I’m so glad to see that CA does it.
Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.