Extreme Flood to Extreme Food
In the earliest days of Eastie Farm, i.e. even before we formed a non-profit organization, we diverted water from neighbors’ downspouts away from their walls and foundations, into the garden, where it served our food-growing efforts as a vital resource. This not only avoided chronic water damage and occasional flooding, but also put a life-giving natural element to its natural use. The same neighbors, to this day, receive plentiful harvest from Eastie Farm, thanks at least in part to the water that falls on their roofs, and is collected in our rain barrels.
We were recently invited to MIT Water forum to present our work on water conservation, which takes many forms. Eastie Farm director Kannan Thiruvengadam presented the farm’s water conservation work, and participated in a panel on the future of conservation and the role of youth in it.
In all our sites, we maximize collection and storage of storm water. We use it for irrigation for food-bearing plants or other vegetation as appropriate. We also create rain barrels from used vannila or olive oil barrels and encourage residents to use them to collect storm water from their roofs for their own garden if they have one, or for the street trees in front of their homes.
We minimize the amount of water we send to the city’s storm drains (and therefore to our harbor). Instead, we conserve it as groundwater by maximizing permeable surface and doing deeper excavation (of clay, for example, which impedes infiltration) and ensuring drainage and infiltration into the ground. We mostly use nature-based methods such as rain gardens.
Watering street trees
East Boston suffers a tree cover that’s lower than the city of Boston. Given the pace of development, the loss of mature trees is also ongoing. So we plant trees wherever we can, and care for the ones already planted.
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