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Standing Guard

BY As told to Zachary Wilson | June 30, 2017 | Feature

As development booms, these conservationists and environmentalists are fighting to protect the East End's most valuable asset: its natural beauty.

Edwina von Gal
Landscape architect, and founder and president of Perfect Earth Project

“This actually all began about five years ago in my dentist’s chair. He lives by the water and was uncomfortable using chemicals on his garden, and he asked if I could recommend somewhere he could educate himself. I couldn’t think of a single place. I thought, I’m getting toward retirement age; maybe this—chemical-free landscaping and gardening—is something good I can do.

“I spent a year with my clients to make sure it worked. Everyone was convinced that if you don’t use chemicals on your landscape, it’s going to turn into a horrible, messy weed patch. But it actually worked great. Once the landscapers realized they weren’t going to lose their jobs, they loved it. Our biggest challenge now is not the landscapers—it’s the clients! Everyone is chemical-dependent.

“There are two perceptions that need to change: One is that people think you can’t have a lush, green landscape without chemicals. Not true. The other is that a good landscape is one that has been beaten, clipped, pruned and precisioned into submission. But there’s no feeling of life there.

“It’s all about life, and life consumes other life. If you have an insect problem, you want to encourage more insect life, to consume the insect life that is out of balance and maybe causes excess damage. It’s just like your gut biome—it’s all coming together now in that we’re learning so much about our own immune systems, and also how plants protect themselves and work with other organisms, like the mycorrhizae in the soil, and other bacteria and fungi. You can always relate it to how you’d care for yourself. If you take care of yourself using lots of drugs, you know what the consequences are.

“Our goal is to make every landowner and every landscaper a land steward. Every yard can be a wonderful, biodiverse place. Any piece of property could be part of the whole mosaic of life. And everyone has an opportunity to be part of that, for free, right in their yard.”

Photography Courtesy Of: