Climate friendly nurseries project launched

November 26, 2009
Nov. 26, 2009, Portland, Ore – The Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Oregon Environmental Council announced the launch of a unique sustainability project for Oregon’s largest agricultural commodity – the ornamental horticulture industry. The Climate Friendly Nurseries project is an innovative partnership that will help nurseries use energy and other resources more efficiently, reduce costs, and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while achieving greater economic efficiency and profitability.
sesterpond
 
Many nurseries, like Sester Farms in Gresham, Ore., host collection
ponds for water as it flows from irrigated nursery stock. Natural
plant material around the pond filters the water and provides habitat
for wildlife. Photo by Joseph Kroetsch.

 
The two organizations made the announcement Thursday morning at the 2009 Farwest Show in Portland, Ore. “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. "By the end of this project, we'll know what types of things our growers are already doing that constitute sustainable practices and what sorts of things we can do to improve our current practices." 

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.
 
Through the Climate Friendly Nurseries project, Oregon nurseries can quantify their energy and resource use and greenhouse gas emissions, and identify specific ways to reduce them. 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. Ecos Consulting and Oregon State University will serve as resources for the Climate Friendly Nurseries project. The project starts in August 2009 and will run through 2012.
 
During the press conference U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) encouraged 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.
 
Participants will collect and enter data into an online tool created for this project by Ecos Consulting. The tool inventories energy, fuel, fertilizer and use of other resources, and measures that use and related GHG emissions. These measurements will allow the project team to identify cost-effective opportunities to become more energy efficient and to reduce the use of other resources. Inventories will be conducted after participating nurseries have taken steps to become more efficient. This will enable the team to identify the most effective best management practices to reduce GHG emissions, and those that provide the most cost savings to nurseries. Lessons learned from the Climate Friendly Nurseries project will be shared with other nurseries. This project builds on the experience of the Oregon Environmental Council and Ecos consulting in leading the Carbon Neutral Challenge for Oregon wineries with the Oregon Wine Board.
 
"It’s exciting to join the Oregon Association of Nurseries is taking real steps toward creating a more efficient, sustainable industry," said Allison Hensey, program director for healthy food and farms at the Oregon Environmental Council. "Oregon’s nurseries are demonstrating leadership in their field and as early adopters, are getting ahead of the curve to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions in a carbon-constrained future. We look forward to other industries following their lead."
 
Six nurseries have already committed to the project. These nurseries will receive help in collecting energy use and GHG emissions data, and individualized assessments of their energy and resource use and related GHG emissions. Based on these assessments, participating nurseries will obtain customized recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions, and an analysis of the economic payoff for implementing these energy saving and efficiency measures. The participating nurseries include:
 
Together, these nurseries represent 7,700 acres in nursery production, or 14 percent of Oregon’s nursery industry.
 
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. “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, contact John Aguirre at the OAN, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 503-682-5089, or Allison Hensey, Oregon Environmental Council, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 503-222-963 ext. 116. Additional information is available at www.climatefriendlynurseries.org.

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