By LINDSAY CAREY
Earlier this month, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protect recognized the Orchards at Southington as one of the 16 Connecticut businesses devoted to protecting the environment.
The Orchards at Southington, a non-profit independent and assisted living community, was honored with a GreenCircle Award for its participation in a number of its environmentally friendly programs.
The programs range from recycling and green waste management practices to forest and wildlife restoration programs.
As a member of the Federal EPA’s Waste Wise Program and Food Recovery Program, the Orchards at Southington made strides to reduce and recycle solid waste.
As participants of the food recovery challenge, the facility committed to reducing the food waste going into landfills through prevention, donation and recycling, according to the application submitted for the award by the Orchards.
The Orchards at Southington also participated in the “Come Grow With Us” program through American Forests, a non-profit organization devoted to protecting and restoring forests.
A tree is planted in honor of every new staff member and resident that joins the Orchards community. The planting is done by American Forests in areas in the country that are in need of forest restoration. The funding for these trees comes from the American Forests “You Can Do It” recycling campaign.
The Orchards at Southington’s Serenity Garden also proved to be another area of excellence in improving the environment.
Serenity Garden was approved as a certified wildlife habitat for the National Wildlife Federation.
“The Orchards is committed to practicing sustainable gardening techniques such as eliminating pesticides, water conservation, planting native species as well as providing the four habitat components of food, water, cover and a place to raise young,” said the application submitted for the award by the Orchards.
In addition, the Orchards joined the Connecticut DEEP Wildlife Divisions Bluebird Restoration Project. The maintenance team at the Orchards built bluebird nesting houses for the Serenity Garden using wood from fallen trees in state forests, which attracted bluebirds.
Resident volunteers tracked bluebird activity throughout the summer by using journals. The information was collected and sent to the Wildlife Division in September. Journaling will resume this spring and will help gauge how many blue birds return to the state annually.
Another project developed through The Orchard’s Serenity Garden is the “Wild About Science” program, which encourages the birds not to fear human interaction.
Human-like figures were created by stuffing clothes with straw and faces were painted on pumpkins to appear as the heads.
Two figures were seated together in the garden with bird seed in their laps in hopes to create a level of comfort between the birds and humans, so that maybe one day a staff member or resident might be able to feed the birds by sitting with a bowl.
After five weeks, the birds finally became comfortable with the figures and ate the seed in the figure’s lap; however, the scenario has yet to be tested with humans.