The Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Oregon Environmental Council have created a partnership known as the Climate Friendly Nurseries Project, the two organizations announced Thursday morning at the 2009 Farwest Show in Portland, Ore.
Over the next three years, the partners will work together to help nurseries to reduce energy use and emissions of global warming gases, in the process becoming more energy efficient, more sustainable, and ultimately, more profitable. “This is an innovative effort to help reduce energy use, cut back on greenhouse gases, and in so doing ensure the long-term success of the industry,” OAN Executive Director John Aguirre said.
The effort will be supported by funding from OAN, OEC and the participating nurseries, as well as one grant that has been secured. Additional grants will be sought. U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) has encouraged the partners to seek grant funds that may become available through the economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year.
“I think it’s going to be an outstanding partnership, emblematic of how Oregon solves problems,” Schrader said. “The OAN has a history of coming up with some pretty brilliant, innovative projects.”
According to Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Climate Friendly Nurseries Project is likely to generate knowledge from which other areas of agriculture can benefit. “We’re hoping this partnership will become a model,” she said.
In the first year, 10 participating nurseries will receive help collecting data on their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They will then receive customized recommendations on how to reduce both of these, along with a cost- benefit analysis.
The project team will help participating nurseries secure grants, low interest loans, and tax credits for energy and resource efficiency upgrades, and provide technical assistance for the upgrades.
“This is a very difficult economy, and for these nurseries to take a leadership role in the development of climate friendly nurseries is quite a commitment,” Aguirre said.
So far, seven growers have been chosen to participate: Bailey Nurseries, Blooming Nurseries, Evans Farms, Heritage Seedlings, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Monrovia Growers and Northwoods Nursery.
Together, these nurseries represent 7,700 acres in nursery production, or 14 percent of Oregon’s nursery industry. Project leaders are looking for three more nurseries to participate. Data collection at the participating nurseries will begin in September.
Project participant Grace Dinsdale, owner of Blooming Nursery near Cornelius, Ore., said that nurseries such as hers have done a great deal to become more sustainable and give back to the environment, but there’s more to learn.
“Nurseries and greenhouses are such big consumers of energy that there is lots of room for improvement,” she said. “I see this as a good time to do this. The nursery industry is retrenching anyway, so it’s a good time to focus on reducing costs …. Having outside people looking at what you do, they will turn up all kinds of things that you wouldn’t be able to see on your own.”
Interested nurseries may read the project announcement at www.climatefriendlynurseries.org/participate.shtml to learn the benefits and responsibilities. To apply to become a participant, contact John Aguirre at the OAN, firstname.lastname@example.org / 503-682-5089, or Allison Hensey, Oregon Environmental Council, email@example.com, 503-222-963 ext. 116.