Green Wheaton, said Howard, is a public/private partnership, which works in tandem with both local businesses and residents, and with governmental bodies, including the City of Wheaton, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.

“Having an organization is important for influencing elected officials,” Murtagh said.

The organization works to spread awareness of sustainable opportunities such as the emPOWER Maryland home energy audit, and to be watchdogs throughout the city revitalization.

“We are looking forward to (the redevelopment),” said Howard, “but we want to make sure it enhances the community. It’s great to have buildings come in, but we want to make sure we have green spaces.”

Launching a community garden in Wheaton/Source: Green Wheaton

Launching a community garden in Wheaton/Source: Green Wheaton

Green Wheaton created a community garden with a rainscape to reduce runoff.  A rainscape or rain garden, is a garden in a small depression, which can collect rainwater and use it to help plants grow. This not only prevents runoff, it also reduces water waste. Natural fresh water is used for garden plants, rather than from a hose or faucet. Water used inside the house can even be recycled via a sump pump.

“We’re learning to manage stormwater,” said Murtagh, “and trying to get people to use stormwater for gardens.”

An overview of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection RainScapes Program, and the importance of good water runoff management practices for a healthy watershed. This video focuses on explaining what a rain garden is how it helps control water runoff, and how to put one in you own yard!

An increasing number of people, he said, are installing rain barrels in their gardens, thanks to the awareness and education being spread by the members of Green Wheaton.

The headwaters of Sligo Creek are in Wheaton, which makes runoff maintenance and creek restoration a vital part of Green Wheaton’s work. Stormwater runoff essentially means that dirty water (water that runs through streets, etc. collecting contaminants), gets pushed into the creek via storm drains. Installation of more rainscapes and rain barrels is helping to prevent runoff into the creek and restore the watershed. (Next)

About the Author: Holly Leber has no gardening knowledge, but used to write garden stories for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. One time, a reader wanted to bring her bugs to identify. 

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