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To Benefit the Birds and the Bugs

Thu, 05/18/2023 - 10:59
ChangeHampton launched a campaign Saturday in East Hampton Village to encourage property owners to make their landscapes more welcoming to pollinators by eliminating the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Durell Godfrey

ChangeHampton, a group of East Hampton Town residents concerned about climate change, biodiversity loss, and the sharp decline in insect and bird species, launched its 1000 Healthy Yards campaign on Saturday, aimed at stopping the use of pesticides and fertilizers and creating landscapes beneficial to pollinators and other native species.

The group previously spearheaded the creation of a 3,000-square-foot pollinator garden outside Town Hall, for which a ceremonial groundbreaking was held in the fall. Planting there will proceed soon, said Stephen Van Dam, a ChangeHampton co-founder.

Saturday’s launch was held at the East Hampton Village residence of Richard Brockman and Mirra Bank. The expansive property will be the first of the campaign’s healthy yards when a portion of the grounds is transformed into a pollinator garden by Green Surf Landscape Design of East Hampton. 

Gail Pellett, a ChangeHampton co-founder, read from “Natural Resources,” a poem by Adrienne Rich: “My heart is moved by all I cannot save: / so much has been destroyed / I have to cast my lot with those / who age after age, perversely, / with no extraordinary power, / reconstitute the world.”

“Our yards are healthy when native plants provide food and shelter for local pollinators to create pollination, which is essential to having a functioning food chain and ultimately being able to survive this crisis,” Mr. Van Dam said. “Our yards are healthy with homemade compost and native plants that sequester carbon because they have these extensive root systems that clean the water before it hits the aquifer we drink from.” Property owners and landscapers “are healthy in an environment free from toxic chemicals as well as the noise and the air pollution caused by blowers, lawnmowers, and other landscaping equipment.”

“And when leaves stay on the ground until late April to ensure the survival of critical, beneficial insect populations,” he added, “we are healthy in an environment where we are part of a community that prefers the love of, and admiration for, nature over bulldozing, overdevelopment, and killing everything around us.”

Those attending also heard from groups including the Nature Conservancy, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, the Peconic Land Trust, East Hampton High School’s Environmental Awareness Club, the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers, PLAN it WILD, and Bellport Village’s environment committee. Their remarks were interspersed with poetry readings and performances by members of the Choral Society of the Hamptons and the jazz duo of Jane Hastay and Peter Martin Weiss.

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