We know how invested our Organic Land Care Practitioners are in the work they do, and we’d love to hear about what the work means to you.

Do you have a project or job site that you’re particularly proud of this season? A tip or a bit of insight that you’d like to share with others? Let us know! Send us a short video (no more than 2 minutes) or a photo(s) with a short description, and we may feature you on our website and social media. Be sure to let us know who you are and some details about your business so that we can share your story. Submit your story here.

The next Organic Land Care Accreditation Course course will be available starting September 1, 2023. The self-paced format allows you to complete the course at your own pace, any time during the fall.

Registration for this course is $400 per person for new participants and includes NOFA accreditation for 2023 and a listing on our AOLCP search site (pending successful completion of the course). Existing AOLCP’s and their employees may register for a discounted cost of $300 per person.

Click here for more information about the course, including sample course curriculum and registration information.

As part of an upcoming update to CT NOFA’s Organic Land Care Program, we’re asking our accredited land care professionals to fill out this survey. Let us know what parts of the program have been helpful to you…and which haven’t! With the help of your input, we’re looking forward to refreshing the OLC course to ensure that it remains the nation’s premiere accreditation source for organic land care professionals. Take the survey, below.


CT NOFA is proud to announce Michael Nadeau as the winner of the 5th annual Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award, to be presented during the 41st Winter Conference this March.

This award is given annually to an individual or organization who has worked to advance organic living on our earth and supports the continuation of the life work of Bill Duesing. We continue to cherish the legacy of our founder through this annual celebration of his many contributions.

Please share this news with your network to spread the word about the Bill Duesing award and Bill Duesing’s legacy. We hope to inspire a new generation of environmental stewards and to continue the unfinished work of our founder.

2023 Awardee, Michael Nadeau

Before his passing, Bill Duesing expressed his fervent wish that the movement to which he dedicated his adult life be carried on by his colleagues, a mandate which Michael Nadeau fulfills through a lifetime of effort and work to make Connecticut landscapes ever more organic.

Michael Nadeau is one of the leading authorities in the field of sustainable organic and ethical land care strategies in the United States. He is sought after for creating attractive sustainable and restorative environments using organic practices that respect the ecology of the property and reflect the philosophy of the client. Michael’s organic and sustainable holistic land care approach carefully maximizes wildlife habitat with specific plantings and techniques, improving the overall health of land, water, and wildlife.

He is a co-founder of CT NOFA’s Organic Land Care program, which has educated and accredited nearly 4,000 land care professionals since its inception in 2001. In 1999, Michael helped write the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care to address a national problem: while the  term “organic” is clearly defined in terms of food and agriculture, land care and landscaping — an industry with wide-reaching impact on the health of our environment — had no such national definition for the term. The goal was to define what “organic” would mean in the context of professional land care, and to formalize the practice of organic land care so that the public could reliably choose practitioners who meet organic standards. Ultimately, these standards were the basis upon which the coursework for the CT NOFA Organic Land Care Program was developed. He also co-authored the NOFA Organic Lawn and Turf Course Manual, the only 100% organic handbook for the care of athletic fields and home lawns.

To this day, Michael continues to teach courses within the program, lecture throughout the northeast region about organic land care and restorative practices, and offer a variety of organic land care and environmental restoration consulting services.

Michael Nadeau has previously been the recipient of the 2009 CT Award for Conservation Excellence, the 2009 Environmental Service Award, the 2010 Hummingbird Environmental Stewardship Award, and the 2018 NOFA Person of the Year Award. Involved in the landscape and tree business since 1968, Michael has continued to remain a pupil of Nature and is a published writer on subjects including ecological, sustainable, and organic land-care topics.

About the Bill Duesing Award

Bill Duesing founded CT NOFA, The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, in 1982, and when he announced that he was facing the final chapter of his life, he said, I trust my colleagues in this mission will continue their efforts to realize a sustainable and joyful future for all.” Bill passed on July 12, 2018.

In his honor, Bills many friends have joined with CT NOFA to carry on his legacy through the creation of The Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award.”

Bills passion for conservation, organic farming and land care, activism and advocacy, and education can be seen throughout Connecticut in his lifes work. From the expansion of organic farming and landscaping, to the founding of CT NOFA and Common Ground High School, to the legislative efforts that led to tangible impacts on the environment (such as the statewide ban of synthetic pesticides on school grounds), we honor Bill by continuing his unfinished work through education and advocacy.

This award is presented annually at the CT NOFA Winter Conference. Learn more about this year’s conference, here.

CT NOFA is excited to announce that Dr. Kimberly Stoner will be joining our team as our new Director of Advocacy.

Dr. Stoner recently retired as an Agricultural Scientist from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, after 34 years as a vegetable entomologist and researcher on bees, including the effect of their exposure to pesticides. She is also a longstanding associate of CT NOFA, having served on the board for 20 years and chaired the Organic Land Care Committee during the development of the Organic Land Care Standards that would be used to inform the program’s courses.

In her new role with CT NOFA, Dr. Stoner will be advocating for organic agriculture, organic land care, resources to assist new farmers, environmental regulation, and food equity. She provides the following assessment of the advocacy mission ahead, including steps any Connecticut resident can take to advance environmental policy in our state:

No matter what news sources you favor, probably 95% of what you hear and read is about the partisan political game — politicians making themselves look good and their opponents look bad. But what really matters in our lives is policy — how our governments make laws and regulations and spend our tax money to provide the services and the structures we need to thrive as a community.

Right now, the Connecticut General Assembly is in session, and issues critical to our future as a state are on the table: how will we change from a fossil-fuel based economy to one that runs on renewable energy? How will we transition from producing mountains of solid waste that we either incinerate or truck to landfills to a state that says goodbye to plastics and composts our organic materials?

Here’s how to find out and get involved in deciding the answers:

  1. Go to the Connecticut General Assembly website
  2. Many of the issues of interest to CT NOFA members are handled in the Environment Committee. On the Environment Committee page, you can find a list of bills under consideration and where they are in the legislative process. You can do the same with other committees of interest.
  3. If you don’t know who your state legislators are, you can find them by putting your town and street address into the Find Your Legislators page.
  4. Look them up, see what they are doing, and tell them what you think. Their job is to work for you!

I look forward to being in touch with you again on a regular basis, and I will be presenting a CT NOFA workshop (at the 2023 Winter Conference, this March) on a bill close to my own heart — the CT Environmental Rights Amendment, a Green Amendment for the Connecticut state constitution. I hope that you’ll join me at the conference for that discussion, and that you will be a part of and contributor to policy action in the future.

CT NOFA is pleased to welcome Jennifer Shaffer as the new Director for the Organic Land Care Program. In her role, Jennifer will be developing new educational programming, managing the accreditation program, and helping to streamline and grow the long-standing project.

Jennifer has worked on issues of food access, environmental and economic justice, and parks equity for more than 20 years. Most recently, Jennifer has led the horticulture program of a public, urban green space in Manhattan toward an ecological redesign that will benefit local communities. Jennifer brings her work strong program management skills, an unshakeable commitment to the stewardship of ecologically healthy landscapes, and a lively interest in how people live in and interact with the land.

Having recently relocated to Connecticut from New York City with her family, Jennifer is enjoying reconnecting with her home state and exploring its wonderful natural places.

Jennifer studied cultural anthropology as a graduate student, earned a Certificate in Landscape Design from the New York Botanical Garden, and is an Accredited Land Care Professional through CT NOFA. She is a member of MetroHort and the Ecological Landscape Association.

UConn Extension Releases Native Plant and Sustainable Landscaping Guide (Repost from ELA)

By Victoria Wallace and Alyssa Siegel-Miles


Interest in native plants and sustainable landscaping has exploded over the last decade. Through our UConn Extension Sustainable Turf & Landscape program, we provide practical, accessible, science-based information to support the sustainability goals of Connecticut green industry professionals, including golf course superintendents, sports turf managers, municipal and school grounds managers, and landscape contractors. Through our consultations, we interact with many gardeners and professionals who are seeking accurate, well-organized information on native plants and recommendations about how to incorporate them into the landscape. With this in mind, we developed the Native Plant & Sustainable Landscaping Guide, with 44 pages of plant lists for every location matched with vibrant photographs.

When designing landscapes with sustainability in mind, it is important to select plants that provide multiple benefits to the landscape, not only beauty – although MANY native plants certainly offer incredible aesthetic interest! Consider and select plants that are adapted to the existing soil conditions and microclimate, without supplemental water needs, so that soil amendments and inputs of fertilizer and irrigation can be reduced or eliminated. Prioritize the planting of native species, which have evolved in concert with native pollinators and wildlife, providing the foundation of local food webs that contribute to the restoration of local ecosystems and create conditions that support a wide variety of indigenous, beneficial animal and insect species.

The Native Plant & Sustainable Landscaping Guide is a resource that will help garden enthusiasts and professionals identify plants that will thrive in the existing conditions and fill each niche in the garden. The guide is formatted like a calendar, with back-to-back pages intended for printing and displaying for easy viewing and frequent accessibility. Most plants listed in the guide are native to the Northeast United States. Some plants that are not native (but are not invasive) have also been included, because they offer qualities that are useful in a sustainable landscape, such as drought tolerance, salt tolerance, deer resistance, or other qualities of value. Plants that are not native to Northeastern U.S. are clearly labeled.

The guide lists plants by category, including native perennials for garden beds, low-growing ground covers, low-maintenance and alternative lawn options, forbs that grow easily by seed, tough native trees and shrubs, plants for reclamation areas, as well as plants that serve as cover crops or pasture crops. Each page lists the plant name, flower color, bloom time, mature height, water and sunlight needs, and provides information on the insects/pollinators the plant supports, deer resistance, and growing conditions. The guide also includes a list of native plant resources and nurseries, which are primarily Connecticut-based.

Many plants included in the document may be well known to ELA members, while many others may be new surprises to consider. For example, two pages highlight low-growing ground covers, with species including Prunus pumila var. depressa (creeping sand cherry), Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ (fragrant sumac), Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot), and Xanthorhiza simplicissima (yellowroot), which all are identified as attracting and supporting birds and bees. Ruellia humilis (wild petunia) and Zizia aurea (golden Alexander) both attract and support butterflies and bees. Growing information is also included, with interesting tidbits on each species: yellowroot has “excellent fall color,” Uvularia grandiflora (large-flowered bellwort) is a good cut flower but is “favored by deer.” Waldsteinia fragarioides (barren strawberry) is salt tolerant and sports evergreen foliage that “turns bronze in winter.”

Plant pictures from UConn Extension’s Native Plant & Sustainable Landscaping Guide.

This guide is a valuable resource for any gardener or landscape professional seeking to expand their knowledge and enhance their usage of native plants that will thrive and add value to the landscape. Plant lovers will enjoy reviewing the plant lists in the guide and finding inspiration from the beautiful photographs. The guide is available for free download at ipm.uconn.edu.


Charts from UConn Extension’s Native Plant & Sustainable Landscaping Guide, available for free download at ipm.uconn.edu.

About the Authors

Victoria (Vickie) Wallace serves as the statewide Extension Educator of Sustainable Landscapes for the University of Connecticut. With a focus on IPM as well as sustainable turf and landscape practices, she works closely with green industry professionals, including municipal and school grounds managers who require pesticide-free management programs to maintain their athletic fields and grounds. She evaluates turfgrasses for low input use and oversees a swallow-wort biological control research project.

Alyssa Siegel-Miles is a Research Technician for the Department of Extension and supports the Sustainable Landscape and IPM programs.

Contact: Jeremy Pelletier, jeremy@ctnofa.org


The NOFA Organic Land Care Program is making some exciting changes to the Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care. In the last year, our move to online learning has come with a lot of unexpected changes – changes in the way we offer programming and, more importantly, changes in how students expect to receive an education. At the beginning of the pandemic, the quick shift to live zoom courses was largely out of necessity – and it worked as intended. Now, as we slowly return to our busy lives, it is more important than ever to continue offering flexible, online learning that is accessible to anyone, no matter their schedule.

We are proud to announce the new self-paced Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care. This new format allows you to learn on your own time, at any hour, to fit your schedule. This course will introduce you to the concepts of organic landscaping as defined by the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care with subjects including soil science, stormwater management, organic lawn care, site design and analysis, compost and compost tea, invasive plant removal, and more. You can view the complete curriculum here.

Growing public awareness of pesticide use hazards and new legislation mandating less toxic and non-toxic alternatives are fueling a new market opportunity for professionals with knowledge of organic lawn, gardens, and landscape care.  Our program allows clients to identify trained professionals who can help them to manage their land organically.

This credential, NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (AOLCP), tells consumers that you are following a set of guidelines with the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care and that you belong to a recognized and credible accreditation program. There is an increasing demand by homeowners, municipalities, and private entities for organic practices on a wide variety of landscapes. This credential will demonstrate that you have professional competency in the area of organic landscaping and that you will protect the public interest in the responsible use of land care products and land resources.

The word ‘organic’ is not regulated in landscape and land care practices as it is with agriculture. For this reason, it is important to earn this credential from a reputable organization.

Course graduates benefit from:

• The respected AOLCP credential for use with potential clients and employers.
• Use of the NOFA Organic Land Care logo for promotional materials and websites.
• Discounts on other NOFA OLC courses and other affiliates gatherings.
• Networking with a community of highly trained organic professionals who know how to manage organic lawns, gardens, and landscapes.
• AOLCPs can be found by new clients via NOFA’s Organic Land Care search engine.

In addition to the self-paced curriculum, there will also be live sessions throughout the month of August with course instructors where you can ask questions, clarify concepts in the curriculum, and converse with your fellow students. We will also be offering optional master classes throughout the month as part of the course.  Topics include permaculture design, sustainable purchasing and acquisition, and edible landscaping.

The NOFA Accreditation Course will be available to start on August 1st and will run through the entire month of August. Click here to learn more, email jeremy@ctnofa.org for more information, or register here.

Course fees: $500 ($400 for AOLCPs and their employees)

Course sign up deadline: Friday, July 30th at 10 pm

Registration link


Download this document to use as a reference when establishing Ecotype Project seedlings from one of our nursery and plant sale partners. 

How to Effectively Establish Native Plant Plugs

See below for a more detailed description with links for further resources.

Special thanks to John Campanelli for creating this document for our farmers, gardeners, and conservation partners.


How to Effectively Establish Native Plant Plugs

Native herbaceous plants are frequently sold as plugs because their compact size allows for the creation of masses and drifts to better emulate how they grow in nature. Once the plants leave the constraints of the plug tray and their roots can expand more freely in the soil, they rapidly grow taller and wider, filling in the space between plugs. However, achieving dense stands of each species requires planning and preparation.

Landscaping with Native Plants (A comprehensive guide for landscaping with native plants. However, as part of site preparation, this guide mentions the use of herbicides, which we at NOFA discourage.)

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening – Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

7 Ways to Use Drifts and Masses In Your Garden



Site Selection and Assessment

Decide how and where you want to use plugs, whether for new border gardens, massing among shrubs in existing foundation beds, pollinator or other wildlife habitats, or replacing portions of lawn with small meadows.  Assess the space where you will be planting to determine the quality of sunlight, moisture, and soil. Survey existing vegetation to determine what does and does not thrive. In particular, identify the type and number of existing weeds. 

Site Preparation

Successful establishment requires that the plugs not get outcompeted by existing weeds and their seed banks. We suggest keeping any soil tilling to a minimum since doing so results in the germination of previously dormant weed seeds. However, if choosing a site overrun by weeds and invasive plants, plan appropriate site preparation weeks – if not months – before planting, especially when using organic methods for killing existing vegetation.

Sheet Mulching: How to Smother Weeds, Build Soil & Conserve Water the Easy Way

Map the Area to Be Planted

Outline the area to be planted whether with rope, hose, or stakes. Since most planting spaces have round, irregular edges, measure the length and width as best you can to determine the rough square footage. While each species spreads at different rates, an easy rule of thumb for estimating the number of plugs needed to achieve dense stands within a year is one plug per square foot. 

Native Plant Garden Designs For Small Spaces

Estimating Irregularly Shaped Areas

Calculate the size of your garden bed

Preparing to Plant

Plugs require planting a greater number of plants than most landscaping projects. Therefore, it’s important to develop an easy, uniform, and effective planting method.

  • Keep plugs moist before planting

Because their compact roots leave them susceptible to drying out, it’s important that plug trays be kept well-watered and out of direct sun from the moment they’re brought home up until they’re planted. Make sure to thoroughly water them two to three hours before planting. This makes it easier to remove them from their trays and loosen their roots before putting them in the ground.  In addition, by deeply watering the plugs just before planting, they can be removed from their trays and laid in the spots they will be planted without drying out, thus saving time.

  • Recommended tools, starting with those we deem most convenient to use, include:
  1. ProPlugger 5-IN-1 Lawn Tool and Garden Tool, Bulb Planter, Weeder, Sod Plugger, Annual Planter, Soil Test (available through Amazon)
  2. 3″ bulb & bedding plant auger drill attachment
  3. Bulb planter tool
  4. Small spade
  5. Hand trowel

Planting Plugs: Putting Tools to the Test

ProPlugger 5-IN-1 Lawn Tool and Garden Tool, Bulb Planter, Weeder, Sod Plugger, Annual Planter, Soil Test (ProPlugger demonstration video)

Power Planter 100% USA Made 3″x7″ Bulb & Bedding Plant Auger

  • Determining spacing and groupings

Taking time before planting to determine the spacing of the plugs will ensure uniform density and that your supply of plugs cover the desired area. When planting larger areas, use a grid pattern with plants 12” off center from each other.

If you’re creating smaller groups of a variety of species, be aware of the differences in mature heights when arranging each group. If planting against a structure, make sure the tallest species are in the back along the structure to ensure shorter species receive proper light.

Planting in the Ground

Plant plugs to a depth that allows the plant’s crown to lie at soil level. Backfill soil between the plug and the hole.

Water in plugs immediately after installation to fill soil air holes around root systems. During the first three weeks, water plantings for about 60 minutes every four days on mild spring days or every three days on hot summer days. A one-hour watering will soak more deeply than 15-minute ones.

Mulch helps conserve soil moisture and reduces weed pressure. We recommend immediately after planting 2-4” of mulch. Preferred mulches include weed-free wheat straw, dried grass clippings, cocoa bean hulls, or dried shredded leaves. Avoid cocoa bean hulls on heavy or wet soils or in dense shade to prevent fungus build-up. Avoid using bark mulch, especially large pieces.

Sweet Peet Mulch

WeedGuardPlus Organic Paper Mulch 

Proactive Weed Prevention

Vigilant weed controls the first year will ensure effective establishment over the long term. By preventing weeds from outcompeting herbaceous native plants, the plugs will fill in the spaces between plants, resulting in dense stands and few weeds the following years.

Taking care of natives in your home garden

Wilton High School Joins in The Ecotype Project!

This spring Wilton High School is planning to host a plant sale to benefit The Ecotype Project and their own intensive school farming and ecological restoration programming.  Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming month about the sale and how you can purchase OUR FIRST EVER crop of local ecotype native plants.

Jim Hunter, a longtime NOFA supporter and a teacher in the High School has been instrumental in supporting this extraordinary group of students (pictured above) who will are working tirelessly on green projects on and off their campus.