Sarasota, FL: To see firsthand what a quintessential Florida Friendly Yard looks like, take a peek at City Hall, 1565 First Street. The City of Sarasota was notified yesterday its City Hall landscape achieved the highest recognition level for Florida Friendly Yards. The recognition was awarded by environmental experts at the University of Florida extension office in Sarasota County.
The City achieved the "Golden Oak" recognition level, the highest of three levels, by assuring the landscape protects our natural resources. The landscape demonstrates to the public that serious environmental issues, such as storm water runoff, water shortages, and disappearing wildlife habitats, can be addressed without sacrificing attractive landscaping. "We wanted to showcase the plantings at City Hall as an educational tool because it is a public space that receives many visitors," said Michele Mician, Neighborhood Coordinator who oversees green initiatives for the City of Sarasota. Some of the techniques used at City Hall include:
- Planting more native species
- Recycling grass clippings
- Collecting rainwater and using it to water plants
- Using drip irrigation
- Avoiding fertilizers and pesticides
- Positioning trees and shrubs to improve the building's cooling capacity
- Planting low maintenance plants
- Providing cover for wildlife
- Purchasing plant materials from local native plant stores
- Positioning plants according to the principals of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)
Moving forward with green initiatives is one of the City Commission's top five critical priorities. In October 2007, the Environmental Management Task Force, comprised of City employees, was created to oversee sustainability issues within City government. "The landscape department includes a master gardener whose expertise helped make the garden bed at City Hall Florida friendly," said Neil Gaines, a Public Works employee who is a member of the EMTF.
In addition to the Florida Friendly Yard, visitors to City Hall can also see a set of rain barrels, which capture rainwater. Ultimately, that water is used to irrigate plants and flowers at City Hall through a drip system.
For more information about green initiatives visit http://www.yourgreencity.sarasotagov.com/