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Roots of knowledge

Delmar resident launches project to cultivate awareness of native plant species

Loretta Fontaine Castagna shows Sydney Geracitano how to plant her dogwood tree.

Loretta Fontaine Castagna shows Sydney Geracitano how to plant her dogwood tree.

— The database would be used to help visitors to her website to participate in challenges like, “Can you visit a nearby arboretum or park and identify one fabulous new native tree or shrub?”

“This information is hard to find and I know how frustrated I felt,” she said. “If there are already people who have done the work, it doesn’t make sense for others to have to do that same digging over and over again.”

Castagna said she is now working on beginning the database but is looking for those with information to contribute. She is hoping for the website to grow into a place where people can contribute articles about their experiences propagating trees and others with similar interest can compare notes.

“It is important to green your space and the earth,” she said. “A lot of focus is on plants but trees and shrubs are bigger, greener and provide more of a habitat for wildlife.”

Castagna said it also important for homeowners to know a little about native tree and plant life so they don’t unknowingly introduce non-native species into their yards that can cause problems for their gardens and forests, and become invasive.

“People often think of planting trees as a big project, but they start out small and it’s nothing harder than a tomato plant,” she said. “This is an exciting opportunity to me because I’m not a professional and I’m starting with my own little project.”

Castagna said she would soon have a table set up with information at the summer Delmar Farmer’s Market. More information can also be found at www.ecohappynativetree

project.org.

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