Blog : Old Fashioned Seacoast Gardening Club on the Cutting Edge of Sustainability

By Madelaine | May 1, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord
Green Alliance Correspondent

PORTSMOUTH – An upcoming meeting of the Piscataqua Garden Club will have a very green theme.

The May 13 event will include presentations from three business partners of the Green Alliance, the Portsmouth organization that connects green-driven consumers with more than 100 green-minded businesses. The unique meeting was organized by the conservation committee of the Piscataqua Garden Club and will take place at Service Credit Union in Portsmouth. The three Green Alliance presenters will be Site Structures, EcoTech Pest Control Services, and Green Maids.

“This is part of our mission as an organization,” said Deb Chag, co-chair of the club’s conservation committee. The Piscataqua Garden Club was founded in 1934 and a membership ranging from Cape Neddick, Maine to Exeter and Kensington, New Hampshire. The Green Alliance presentations, Chag explained, will be an environmental education platform to better inform members on conservation issues.

“We have six meetings a year and often have some eclectic speakers,” Chag said. “But we haven’t done anything like this before.”

Green Alliance director Sarah Brown said the event came about as part of an unofficial collaboration between the two organizations. “We have given conference room space to the planning committee of the Piscataqua Garden Club,” Brown explained. “A few months ago they approached us to set up special educational presentations from some of our business partners to their club. It’s a great opportunity to bring together like-minded people and we love the fact they are using us as a green resource.”

Ben Woods, the project manager for Kittery, Maine-based Site Structures, said his presentation will focus on what his company does and the growth of its cutting-edge green techniques and practices.

Since its founding in 1996, Site Structure has served a wide range of Seacoast region clients. Its sustainable landscape designs include chemical-free alternatives, storm water management to rain garden implementation, and sourcing local products whenever possible.

“I plant to talk about using native plants as part of a sustainable landscape design,” Woods said. “I will also share how we approach sustainable goals and techniques. We are always thinking about how we can reduce the need for chemicals and create an aesthetically pleasing design that fits into its surrounding environment.”

Thomas Pray, a degreed, B.S., entomologist with more than 25 years of field experience, is the founder of Eliot, Maine-based Ecotech Pest Control Services. He is excited to speak to Piscataqua Garden Club members about best tick control practices and to limit potential exposure to Lyme disease.

“We are the number one place in America to get Lyme disease,” Pray said. “I’m pretty excited to talk to this group about the biology and the best options to protect themselves as homeowners and gardeners. The goal is to prevent a habitat in which these ticks can thrive.”

Some of the measures include cutting grass short and removing moisture-enhancing leave piles. Pray also plans to talk about green-focused methods such as the “tick box” approach.

John O’Brien, the founder and owner of Green Maids, will use his presentation time to share a wide range of green cleaning practices for the household. Founded in 2009, Green Maids serves residential and commercial customers in southern Maine and the Seacoast New Hampshire region while using all-natural, biodegradable, earth friendly, and non-toxic cleaning products.

“I plan to give a lot of green cleaning tips and show the members how to clean in a more eco-friendly and efficient fashion,” he said.

Chag expects about 50 to 60 members and guests to attend the May 13 meeting (Piscataqua Garden Club meetings are usually open to the public but Chag said this one is not). She is excited to hold it at the new corporate headquarters of Service Credit Union because the new headquarters was built with maximum conservation in mind. The LEED Gold-certified design also incorporates a variety of efficient systems and green design features such as geothermal heat exchange, raised floor systems, triple glazing and photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the building. The planting design features native species in a range of colors and textures that bloom incrementally throughout the growing season.

“The building and the garden architecture are really quite incredible,” Chag said. “It’s the perfect venue for our sustainable event!”


For more information about the Piscataqua Garden Club, visit