Category Archives: Gardening

Are you anxious to get back out in your garden again? I know I am!

It’s been awhile since I updated the Schnarr’s blog calendar with gardening events. For the last couple of years most events have been cancelled or online. But a few in person events are starting to happen again, along with a lot of webinars and online sessions.

I’ve put some St. Louis based events, be they in person or virtual, on the Schnarr’s Blog calendar here:
http://schnarrsblog.com/calendar/

I’ve also added some pins to a couple of sections of the Schnarr’s Pinterest site to help people find gardening related webinars and on-demand content from all over the country.

Gardening Webinars and Online Courses

Garden Educational Videos, eBooks, Slide Shows and Podcasts On Demand

In the St. Louis area where I am, it’s a bit rainy and cold right at the moment and it’s possible that tasks you were looking forward to doing in the garden might be postponed for a few days. If you’re forced to be more indoors than you’d like, maybe some online gardening content will help you maintain a healthy state of mind. Enjoy!

Dad is on the left, Rosie Willis on the right. 03-26-2022

This past Saturday my Dad and I blew some of the winter dust out of our bodies and minds by volunteering at Fresh Starts Community Garden. It was Dad’s first time here while I’ve been to this garden a couple of times before. It was uplifting as always to spend a little time with the inspiring and kind leader Rosie Willis and the other volunteers. I get praised a lot when I volunteer, but it’s likely I get more out of it than I give – gardening makes me happy wherever I do it! And it’s always uplifting to be in the company of people who are working hard to help their neighbors.

This week those of us who are St. Louis Master Gardeners got some nice validation by getting the Master Gardener 2021 Impact Statement PDF document in our email. If you would like to see what we did in 2020 and 2021, check out these links:

2021 St. Louis Master Gardener Impact Statement

2020 St. Louis Master Gardener Impact Statement

I’ve been reading in the last year or two about biophilia – in so many words it is the human tendency to feel a sense of well being while exposed to nature. As I’ve learned from reading horticultural therapy books, in addition to spending time in or around actual nature, pictures, video and sounds from gardens can make people feel better mentally and physically. I hope the resources I’ve linked to can help give you some good feelings immediately whether you have to be inside or outside.

Here is a link to my photo album on Facebook of some of the past master gardener activities I’ve enjoyed since completing my training in 2016.

Master Gardener Activities

Here is a link to Fresh Starts Community Garden on Facebook.

Fresh Starts Community Garden

Happy Spring!

St. Catherine Victory Garden

Tom and I have been volunteering at a new community garden, named St. Catherine Victory Garden, at our parish, St. Catherine Laboure in Sappington. Organizer Deanna Violette compared the challenges of recent history to World War II, when people grew extra produce to support the nation through a trying time.

The St. Louis Review has published an excellent article that explains the goals and benefits that the new garden provides. Read about it here: Parish gardeners aim to share healthy food with pantry

At the end of this blog post are scans of the printed article.

Several organizations within the St. Catherine Laboure parish are collaborating on the garden, with support and knowledge from the following outside regional organizations:

On Saturday, I’m scheduled to volunteer at another community garden affiliated with Gateway Greening, Fresh Starts Community Garden which is led by Rosie Willis and affiliated with the North Newstead Association in St. Louis, the Regional Business Council and possibly others.

Photos from volunteering at Fresh Starts Community Garden – click right arrow to scroll through.

A blog post I wrote after our last volunteer session at Fresh Starts – Community Gardens, Health, and Food Security

When we as a society are tested with hardship, the kinds of leaders I want to follow are those who bring Americans together rather than separating them into opposing factions for the divide-and-conquer type of political power. I will be continuing to help at both gardens with whatever work is needed at the time I volunteer and also special projects that I’m taking on. I’ll be writing about these activities on my blog as they happen. I’m looking forward to a summer full of sharing, teaching, learning and growing!

St. Louis Review clipping from June 7-13 edition, page 6.
St. Louis Review clipping from June 7-13 2021 edition, page 6.
Clipping from St. Louis Review, June 7-13 2021 edition, page 7
Clipping from St. Louis Review, June 7-13 2021 edition, page 7.

Community Gardens, Health, and Food Security

I work part-time at a hardware store. We have a lawn and garden department, and within it we sell vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Last spring and summer, the demand for seeds was higher than normal while at the same time supply chains for many retail products were disrupted. As a result we ran out of many seeds. As a St. Louis Master Gardener, it’s part of my personal mandate to help people garden. Sometimes I try to help with information, sometimes with my labor, sometimes I distribute my extra seeds and plants for people to try out.

Last summer’s growing season was an unfortunate time to experience a shortage of seeds, because the COVID-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on some sources of food. There is not only the economic effect of many people losing their normal sources of income, but the disruption in the labor pool and supply chain, as thankfully brief as much of it was, forced us to think about the security of our food supply more than many of us normally have to. At a time when there was less ability to buy food, the opportunity for volunteer efforts to help people get the food they need was also diminished. Some food pantries had to temporarily close or reduce their hours of operation. In-person St. Louis Master Gardener efforts were halted, so I could not go to help at a Community Garden site. Besides donating a modest amount of money to a food pantry, my husband and I tried to distribute extra seeds and plants to anyone we could get them to.

It’s beneficial for the security of the food supply, for everyone who has the means and the time, to learn how to grow plants and food. Although anyone can jump in and start at any time, growing serious amounts of food is not easy and takes a lot of time and effort to learn to do well. Growing serious amounts of food requires learning how to maintain healthy soil. Growing serious amounts of food requires learning how to maintain a sustainable amount of beneficial organisms such as invertebrates and fungi in the ecosystem. All of these activities are fascinating hobbies that can be pressed into service any time there is a food crisis. And the health benefits of gardening, both mental and physical, create a more resilient population for any challenge we might face in life. For those reasons and more, I think home or community gardening is one of the best pursuits anyone can undertake, regardless of current financial status. You never know when you’ll be extra thankful for the opportunity to go to your own backyard to get some fresh food, or when you’ll have the opportunity to pass on plants, seeds or knowledge on to someone in need.

Tom and I at Fresh Starts Community GardenTom and I were grateful to have the opportunity to start volunteering in person again. Recently we volunteered at the Fresh Starts Community Garden in St. Louis at a volunteer session sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. It was satisfying to share our labor and knowledge while learning about the needs of community gardeners as well.


Fresh Starts Community Garden in St. Louis – volunteer day

In our most recent church bulletin, there was an article about food security with a helpful graph that I’ll share here. Food security is defined in the article as “…the lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medicine, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods”.

The graph helps show how much potential there is for gardens of all kinds to have positive impacts on human life and health. Even when people have the money to buy food, and healthy food available to buy, there are a lot of people who could use some encouragement and training in the life skills of choosing and preparing the food. The satisfaction of growing and harvesting for the table naturally leads to exploring ways to cook and store the delicious, life giving produce. If you are seeking health, a sense of community, solace, purpose, independence and agency in your life, I think growing plants is one of the very best things you can do for yourself and for humankind.

Emergency Winter Help For Backyard Birds

Yesterday my husband was off work on a snow day, and one of the activities we did together was watch a webinar on winter birding. There were questions at the end about how to make sure our backyard birds are taken care of during the current harsh winter weather.

In my garden are a lot standing plants with seed heads that are still pretty full, so backyard birds that can eat those kinds of seeds can always get food. There is a pond heater that I bought from Schnarr’s Hardware, where I work part time, that keeps a melted hole open in the surface ice of our pond as long as I periodically remove the layer of drifting snow, so our birds have a steady supply of water too. What we were reminded of in the webinar is that all birds can’t eat all varieties of seed, and some birds who depend more on fruit and insects may be going hungry right now. As emergency help, I hastily prepared a couple of bowls of extra food – some sliced oranges, chopped apples, peanut butter, jelly, cat food and a little extra seed. As extra protection against the food getting covered up with snow, you can put such bowls under a shelter of some kind, or in a feeder that has a cover. At Schnarr’s we also sell dried mealworms and suet cakes and feeders, which most birds love and are especially beneficial for heavy insect-eating birds that need protein.

Eastern Bluebirds, the Missouri State Bird, are an example of a heavy insect-eating species that needs a lot of protein. In the suburbs where I live, it’s not easy to get this sought after but not very common bird into a backyard to view because they are highly impacted by habitat and food loss from human altered landscapes. However, I saw one in our neighborhood a few weeks ago so I’m happy to know there is some good habitat in the vicinity. There is a large cemetery nearby which probably helps a great deal.

Emergency food for outdoor birds
Emergency food for outdoor birds

Here are links to other articles I’ve written that might help you enjoy your backyard birds:

Make Suet Cakes for Outdoor Birds

How to Raise Mealworms For Your Backyard Birds

Are Starlings Taking Over Your Bird Feeders?

Gardening for the Birds

There are some recorded webinars on the University of Illinois Extension YouTube archive that have more information about backyard birding in the winter and many other great topics. Enjoy!

University of Illinois Extension videos

Book Reviews

Through my Master Gardener work at Litzinger Road Ecology Center, a project of Missouri Botanical Garden, I’m a member of a book club for volunteers. Since we have not been doing volunteer work or educational enrichment in person lately, our book club helps to keep us in touch with each other through online meetings and keeps our minds expanding.

I haven’t had much time lately to read anything except textbooks and write anything except papers since I am in graduate school, though so far I’ve been able to fit in book club readings and discussions. For the next two and half months or so I’m going to be working on some independent study which should result in a little more time to read and write about more varied topics. One of my favorite things to write is book reviews! The first three books I’m going to review here are recent readings from our book club, and the last one is an old book that I read a long time ago and used for my most recent paper, resulting in a refreshed perspective on it and renewed appreciation.

Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn
Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn

“Never Home Alone” by Rob Dunn
There are many organisms that we live with but don’t think much about. In some cases, they are small to begin with, and are secretive or live in parts of our homes that we don’t regularly access. Others are too tiny to be seen without scientific equipment. The study of these types of organisms is a much younger field of science compared to that of the larger organisms that humans have been able to easily access for millenia. This book explains how human curiosity started to unlock some of this secret world that goes on around us, and even in and on us. You’ll also learn about exciting recent discoveries and areas that are unexplored and ripe for new studies. If you know someone who is interested in science this book might help turn them on to a field that is both relatively new and potentially very important to the human condition.

We live in a time when we are encouraged to have unwavering faith in a technocracy and questioning anything scientists or members of the technocracy say is treated by mainstream culture as heresy. In addition to being fascinating subject matter in it’s own right, this book is a good reminder to lay people such as myself that scientists are not superhuman, they don’t know everything and no one is above being questioned. Here is a quote I like from page 214: “Scientists aren’t supposed to discount hypotheses that they find boring and unfortunate, but they do…” I think we should all be cautious if someone tells us everything that can be known about something is already known. We can all think of many instances in history where that has been asserted, incorrectly. I believe curiosity should be encouraged whenever possible and this book certainly appeals to that part of human nature!

The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stefano Mancuso
The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stefano Mancuso

“The Incredible Journey of Plants”
by Stefano Mancuso
Similar to our first book club selection above, “The Incredible Journey of Plants” is a science book written so that a lay audience can access the information without having to read academic papers. It’s shorter in length than “Never Home Alone” and the watercolor illustrations are artistic and fanciful rather than strictly informational. Although the illustrations are lovely, in my opinion they would have benefitted from more variety in concepts since they are very prominent in the overall presentation.

If you enjoy plants, learning more about how amazing their survival, propagation and adaptation capabilities are from this book is likely to increase your fascination. The author provides some global perspective to the importance of plants to humans and the interplay between plants and world history. Although it contains scientific information, this is a book that you would probably use most often to access your capability for inspiration and wonder rather than as a horticultural reference book.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

“Things in Jars” by Jess Kidd
“Things in Jars” is detective fiction that is set in the Victorian era. That might sound like a conventional premise, but this author adds in supernatural and fantasy elements with a poetic approach to the language creating results that are very bizarre, in a good way. This is not a “cozy” mystery with genteel characters and situations. There is considerable gore and dark abuse reflecting the hardships of the Victorian era that went along with the whimsy, mannered culture and scientific progress of the time that we often see portrayed in fiction. The “Things In Jars” of the title are sought after by scientists, collectors, curiosity exhibitors, mercenaries and detectives who all have conflicting purposes in mind for the specimens in question.

Although I have read a great deal of detective fiction, fantasy is not one of my favorite genres so at first I had a hard time getting interested in the story which has as characters ghosts and mythical creatures along with examples of Victorian era denizens that are more grounded in reality even if they are flamboyantly exaggerated. There are a lot of flashbacks and a lot of characters with similarities to each other, so I found the story to be occasionally confusing. I can think of two or three categories of players that could have been streamlined to make the story easier to follow. Despite that, if this author wanted to use the lead characters and situations to make a detective series out of this novel, I would be interested in reading more. It took considerable mental effort on my part to get into this world, but once there I was in no hurry to get back out. For example I could spend a lot more time with an eccentric scientist in a laboratory at the top of a converted windmill with a pet raven – lets go back there please! That’s one of my favorite aspects of a detective series, you don’t have to get used to a whole new world each time you read an installment.

Pulling Your Own Strings by Dr. Wayne Dyer
Pulling Your Own Strings by Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Pulling Your Own Strings” by Dr. Wayne Dyer
This book was first published in 1978. I first read this book in the late 1980s, when I was in college (the first time). It turned out to be one of the most influential books I have ever read. At many points in all of our lives, individuals and institutions are going to try to get you to disregard your own inclinations in behavior and thought so that your actions will benefit them, rather than yourself.

In my most recent research paper for the class Media Organization Regulations, I explained some of the sources of my theory that abuse is so mainstream in our society that we often don’t recognize when it’s happening. I got out my old copy of “Pulling Your Own Strings” to use in the paper because I remembered there were examples of the kinds of tactics I wanted to write about in the book, both personal and societal, and I wanted to make the patterns easy to recognize and understand. My jaw actually fell open re-reading parts of this book because the ideas contained within it are just as important now as in the 1970s, if not even more so. It seems from my point of view that individualism and thinking for oneself are less popular in our culture than they have ever been and we are shamed if we claim our right to question what we are told and why. This book reminds me that when people, institutions and society treat you that way it’s because they want something from you and it’s not likely to be what is in your best interests. I have read this book so many times the cover fell off some time ago, but it’s been a long while since the last reading – way too long. It’s going to go back to a spot where I can refer to it frequently. The dominant culture is working hard to separate all of us from our sources of strength to conform to their vision of how we should live – this book affirms the rights of all human beings to mentally reclaim our own agency and helps us practice building the courage we’ll need to do it.

Historic Preservation Weekend in Sullivan, MO

 removing invasive euonymus and honeysuckle
Tom and I are pictured removing invasive honeysuckle and euonymus from the Shamrock Courts in Sullivan, MO. In the center all the volunteers are having a lunch break.

On November 7 and 8th, 2020, members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri and other volunteers worked on a historic preservation project at the Shamrock Courts in Sullivan, MO. The Shamrock Courts were an historic Route 66 motel that was later converted to apartments and then left empty for over a decade. The goals of the volunteers on this cleanup weekend were to preserve the buildings, get the property cleaned up and looking good to help it find a good buyer who will restore it, and to look for artifacts and history to pass on to the new owners and to the historic record of Route 66.

I was only able to go on Sunday the 8th because I had a lot of homework, but was nevertheless very pleased to make my contribution. My husband Tom joined me. I concentrated on removing invasive vegetation from the building and the surrounding property. Removing the invasive vegetation helps with preservation because it prevents fast growing trees and vines from gradually prying apart bits of the buildings.  In addition taking seeds and parts of the plants that can grow away from the property helps to prevent regrowth and the cost of future labor to remove it. I may be back because there is a lot more to do!

Artifacts that thrill Route 66 fans
Artifacts that thrill Route 66 fans

When you can find actual historic details and artifacts, it’s an extra reward. For Route 66 fans, to see the outside of buildings like this is exciting, but it’s even better when you can get permission to get close and even go inside to discover things that you may not ever see during a “drive-by” photo op visit, or in a book. Historic finds, like the neon sign tubing we are holding up in the center photo, add to the historic value of the property as well as the satisfaction for history-loving owners and volunteers.

Personally, the day I spent at the Shamrock was extra special because it was on the 21st anniversary weekend of attending my first Route 66 Association of Missouri meeting and the first weekend of exploring Route 66 in Missouri with my Mom and Dad. We stayed at the Boots Motel and stopped for classic roadside sights for the first time such as Red Oak II and Bill’s Station. The following year I became a lifetime member of the Route 66 Association of Missouri!

Experience some of the thrill of discovery with these videos by Roamin’ Rich Dinkela, President of the Route 66 Association of Missouri!

Day 2 of saving the Shamrock

Finding the neon sign tubing!

The Deer Creek Watershed Alliance Campaign to Promote Rainscaping in the St. Louis Missouri Metro Area

Here is my final paper for Strategic Communication Applications. It’s been graded now, but since class is over and I got a score that pleases me I didn’t make any changes here. As you’ll see, I refer to myself in the third person in this paper. That is because I decided to write it as if was an impartial observer. Enjoy!

Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann
Mary Bufe
PBRL 5380: Strategic Communication Applications
16 October 2020

This analysis will examine how public relations campaigns have encouraged the installation of rainscaping and rain gardens in St. Louis County and what were the results when citizens attempted to enact what the campaigns recommended. Rainscaping is a landscaping technique that utilizes green infrastructure including directing excess stormwater runoff into planted bioretention areas, known as rain gardens (Buranen). Some residents of St. Louis County have received cooperation from the county while installing their rainscaping features, while we know of one St. Louis County couple, Tom Winkelmann and Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann, who experienced persecution and harassment from St. Louis County for using the same recommended techniques.

Organization’s history and background

Deer Creek Watershed is an area of St. Louis County that is a sub-watershed of the River Des Peres Watershed. The River Des Peres Watershed is large and complex with portions in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County (EcoWorks Unlimited 6). In 2008, citizens who lived in the Deer Creek Watershed approached Missouri Botanical Garden to explore ways of mitigating destructive water runoff activity in their locality. Missouri Botanical Garden formed an alliance for the purpose of exploring plant-based solutions to stormwater runoff problems with these citizens, along with “Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Washington University, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, American Society of Civil Engineers, Great Rivers Greenway, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Stream Teams, River des Peres Watershed Coalition, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis County, local garden clubs” and 21 local municipalities (EcoWorks Unlimited 6, 9).

St. Louis County entered into an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency from 2003-2013 (Sutin) to reduce storm water runoff and pollution, problems that rainscaping helps to fight. Combined sewer overflows, sanitary and stormwater, have been plaguing the St. Louis metro area for years, causing damage and pollution in the area and downstream. As a result the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is required by the EPA and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment to fix the problem in 23 years. The clock started in 2011 (Buranen).

St. Louis County and the Metropolitan Sewer District, hereafter known in this document as STLCO and MSD, have constituencies that overlap. Besides being fellow members of the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, aka DCWA, these two organizations are logical allies in the fight against stormwater pollution and flooding.

Demonstration projects along with testing and water quality monitoring were performed by alliance members in parts of the affected watershed in order to successfully prove the effectiveness of rainscaping techniques (EcoWorks Unlimited 23-25, Winkelmann “Aquatic Macro Invertebrates…”, Buranen). Since the majority of land within the target watershed is privately owned, it was necessary to enroll citizens in the alliance’s goals and projects (EcoWorks Unlimited 19, 22).

Organization’s Mission, Vision and Brand

In its own words, the mission of DCWA is “facilitating a community-wide effort for over 10 years to protect and improve water quality through plant-based solutions” (The Deer Creek Alliance).

After its inception, DCWA recommended the following public relations efforts to enlist citizen involvement (EcoWorks Unlimited 22).

  1. Rainscaping demonstration projects in schools.
  2. Workshops for area professionals.
  3. Annual public engagement projects led by citizens.
  4. Building a contact list of citizens in the watershed through tables at festivals, networking, presentations utilizing PowerPoint, and media campaigns.
  5. Cultivating the contact list with email newsletters, the web site, and public meetings.
  6. Helping cities communicate about pilot projects, incentives and barrier removal mechanisms.

In 2014, when the Deer Creek Watershed Management Plan Summary was finalized, St. Louis County resident Carolyn Hasenfratz, now known as Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann, was single and living within the Deer Creek Watershed in a condominium in Brentwood. Already an avid gardener, she obtained a permit to garden around her condo unit right after her 2004 move in. Keenly interested in sustainable and eco-friendly gardening, she constantly updated her knowledge and practices with every bit of information she could glean from “green” gatherings and gardening resources. A frequent attendee at events such as Earth Day and the Sustainable Living Expo, she was aware of Project Clear, Operation Clean Stream and other alliance member activities through some of the table promotions mentioned by the DCWA(Winkelmann “Photo of Patches”). Observing water runoff problems around her condo unit, Winkelmann experimented with, to the extent allowed by the condo association guidelines, small scale stormwater control techniques (Winkelmann “Garden Maintenance in…”).

In 2016, Winkelmann successfully completed training and was certified in the St. Louis Master Gardener program, a membership she has retained until the present time (Winkelmann “Mass Communication Final…”). Master Gardener activities include yearly minimum time commitments for volunteer work and continuing education, and consequently brought Winkelmann into closer involvement with Project Clear and the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, as she personally participated in several of their outreach efforts and projects.

Missouri Stream Teams – Winkelmann became a volunteer at the Litzinger Road Ecology Center immediately after certification as a Master Gardener. LREC is a Missouri Botanical Garden facility and is located right on Deer Creek. Volunteers from Missouri Stream Teams, another DCWA partner organization, conducted a demonstration of surveying macro-invertebrates which is one of their methods of testing the effectiveness of rainscaping techniques (Winkelmann “Aquatic Macro Invertebrates…”). She has volunteered for several years in Operation Clean Stream events, an ongoing cleanup effort of trash along area waterways (Winkelmann “Operation Clean Stream…”).

Workshops for area professionals – Winkelmann attended a session on green controls for stormwater runoff at Missouri Botanical Garden to learn more about rainscaping (Winkelmann “Photo of Handouts”).

Presentations utilizing PowerPoint – After attending a presentation on Project Clear by an MSD representative, Winkelmann wrote an article for her employer’s newsletter to help disseminate the information to customers (Winkelmann “MSD’s Project Clear…”). MSD has been promoting a long-term campaign called Project Clear, the “planning, design and construction of MSD’s initiative to improve water quality and alleviate many wastewater concerns in the St. Louis region” (Winkelmann “MSD’s Project Clear…”). Project Clear utilizes a three-part classification system to organize projects. The category “Get the Rain Out” is the portion that addresses remedies in which individual citizens and property owners can engage (MSD Project Clear “MSD Project Clear Initiative”). The premise of “Get the Rain Out” is that if we reduce the amount of rainwater that goes into the stormwater management systems at peak times, disasters can be averted and the water quality for our region and those downstream from us will improve. The aforementioned practice of rainscaping is one of the two main initiatives in the “Get the Rain Out” category (MSD Project Clear “Rainscaping”). A prominent incentive touted for rainscaping is monetary grants to property owners who install rainscaping features. (MSD Project Clear “MSD Project Clear Initiative”).

Problem Statement

Carolyn Hasenfratz married Tom Winkelmann in 2018 and moved into the husband’s home in Affton. The couple started installing rainscaping features shortly after becoming engaged since the property had severe existing drainage problems. According to Winkelmann’s blog, the next-door neighbor made false claims to St. Louis County about the effect of the Winkelmann’s rainscaping on her property, resulting in a year of entanglements with the St. Louis County Department of Public Works. The husband, who is the registered property owner, was forced to appear in court under pain of arrest (Winkelmann “Drainage Problems Are…”). After the charges were dismissed in court in July 2019, Winkelmann’s blog reports that harassment of the couple by the St. Louis County Department of Public works resumed in January 2020 and persisted until the end of April 2020 when the couple contacted the County Executive’s office and provided video documentation of the alleged harassment (Winkelmann “St. Louis County…”). The current position of the St. Louis County Department of Public Works is that the rainscaping employed by the Winkelmanns is acceptable and no explanation was offered to explain their previous opposition.

Since St. Louis County is a member of the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, to have part of the organization undermining the alliance’s goals is confusing and could discourage other St. Louis County residents from adopting rainscaping techniques. The attitude of the St. Louis County Department of Public Works shown to this couple indicates that at least some of the inspectors and supervisor of inspectors are or were either uninformed about rainscaping, hostile to it, or both. Here is a quote from the supervisor of inspectors to Mrs. Winkelmann that seems to indicate skepticism about rainscaping as a concept, and mockery toward the homeowners for employing it. “Should a complaint come in about a public nuisance created by the ditches you’ve dug in your husband’s yard we will be required by law to re-issue the NOV and seek compliance. If you want to create a “rain garden” at some time in the future, and the necessary changes involved with that process are in violation of County ordinances, you will need to seek a special use permit or a zoning variance” (Winkelmann “Drainage Problems Are”). It’s less than precise to judge attitudes solely from written communication, but this supervisor refused to speak to the Winkelmanns on the phone or to visit the site in person despite repeated invitations, so this kind of communication is all the evidence of the department’s attitudes available.

Who is involved or affected? How are they involved or affected and why is this a concern to the organization and its publics?

Events in recent history have made it clear that flooding in St. Louis County is still a serious problem. For example, the River Des Peres flooded in 2019 and 2020, causing pollution and property destruction in South St. Louis (Hignett, Lincoln, Wicentowski). A South St. Louis resident estimated the amount of water in his neighborhood to be equivalent to the historic flood of 1993. 2019 and 2020 are eight and nine years into the 23-year agreement between MSD, the EPA, and Missouri Coalition for the Environment. The 1993 and 2019 flood events that the resident compared are very different in scale in terms of the effects on the entire metro area, so this one event may not mean that MSD is losing the battle and is going to miss their deadline. However, these recent floods could be regarded as evidence that there is still a lot of work to be done.

If the St. Louis County Department of Public Works is going to persecute people who try to be part of the solution, they will discourage property owners from adopting rainscaping techniques and we will all pay the price in higher sewer bills, flood destruction and deteriorated water quality. All subscribers to MSD are affected because of the cost, and every person who lives downstream from the St. Louis metro area is affected by decreased water quality – all the way to the Gulf of Mexico where there is a dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi that varies in size every year (“Mississippi River…”). This has implications for the health of drinking water downstream, the health of fishing in the Gulf, property loss, decreased tourism, land erosion and possibly other destructive effects (“Mississippi River…”).

Mrs. Winkelmann personally spent over 43.6 hours of labor defending the rainscaping she and her husband installed, representing an economic loss because she is partially self-employed and that is time that she could have spent earning money instead (Winkelmann “St. Louis County…”). The couple spent approximately $300 on security cameras to obtain evidence to stop the harassment, and since they don’t live in the area that offers rebates to homeowners who install rainscaping, all of the property upgrades have been performed at their own personal expense (Winkelmann “St. Louis County…”).

MSD and the other members of the DCWA have invested huge amounts of money and labor into trying to convince the public to install rainscaping features on their own property (Buranen). MSD subscribers have partially paid for this advocacy with their sewer bills and will be paying for many more years. Many people do not have the resources, time, or the interest to fight St. Louis County and could be intimidated out of acting in an environmentally responsible way just because it’s easier and cheaper and keeps them out of court, not because they are indifferent the environment and our fellow Americans downriver.

Anyone who contributes resources to the following partial list of organizations, either voluntarily or through taxation, is potentially having some of their money that was spent on sponsoring the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance wasted: Great Rivers Greenway, Missouri Department of Conservation, US EPA Region 7, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, American Society of Civil Engineers, Missouri Stream Teams, River des Peres Watershed Coalition, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis County, allied local garden clubs and the 21 affected local municipalities (The Deer Creek Alliance, EcoWorks Unlimited 6, 9). Most of the money for the cost-share grants is derived from private property taxes (Chen).

Continued Advocacy and Outreach by Alliance Members

DCWA members continue to work on the organization’s goals of mitigating pollution, habitat loss and flood damage with the help of plants. The Alliance “Take Action” web page calls for the following activities (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Take Action”):

The Rainscaping Cost-Share Program – funded by the “Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation, and US EPA Region 7 through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (subgrant number G19-NPS-11), under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act”, the cost-share program continues with large and small cost-share grants available, to help out individual homeowners, businesses and institutions (MSD Project Clear “Rainscaping”).

Education – online resources to teach property owners how to rainscape (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Rainscaping”, “Rain Gardens”).

Water pollution prevention tips (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Reduce Water Pollution”, Winkelmann “Online photo album…”).

Guidelines on conducting a citizen led creek cleanup (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Lead a Creek Cleanup”).

News of volunteer activities and opportunities from the Green Keepers, Great Rivers Missouri Master Naturalists, Missouri Stream Teams, Open Space Council and St. Louis Master Gardeners (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Webster Groves Green Keepers”). Some of the organizations listed here are official alliance members while others are assumed by this analyst to be allies as their goals and projects often overlap.

Invasive Honeysuckle removal (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Root Docking Invasive Honeysuckle”, Winkelmann “Tips for Removing…”).

News about continuing education opportunities (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Learning Opportunities”).

Project Clear outreach and educational exhibits in an annex at the new St. Louis Aquarium (Winkelmann “Online photo album…”). In this area visitors can get brochures about Project Clear, play interactive games, use an interactive and educational kiosk, view a demonstration rain garden and engage in other activities that educate about water quality and water conservation.

Evaluation

One result that is easy to see is that The Deer Creek Watershed Alliance did an excellent job getting the word out about the cost-share grants for rainscaping. This analyst found news articles about the availability of the grants from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Giegerich, Schuessler), Kirkwood, MO Patch (Greenbaum), St. Louis Public Radio (Chen) and the St. Louis American (“MSD accepting applications…”).

Have property owners been taking advantage of the grants? “In the model [first] round, there were only eight applications. The second [following year] round had sixty-six applications” reported an official in 2018 (Buranen). Two of Project Clear’s pilot rainscaping projects, Old North and Cortex, have been well-received by the public and the educational signage has been observed to attract attention and interest (Buranen). Interest in rain gardens has increased throughout the area even by those, like the Winkelmanns, who are not located in the grant award area (Buranen). For example, an alternate funding source provided the large rain gardens on the Webster University campus in Webster Groves (Buranen). The Deer Creek Watershed Alliance published an infographic in 2018, claiming credit for 364 rainscaping project installations among many other educational and environmental achievements during its first 10 years (Deer Creek Watershed Alliance “Achievements”).

Negative reactions

Since neither the St. Louis County Department of Public Works or the County Executive’s office would provide an explanation to the Winkelmanns about the initial resistance to their rainscaping (Winkelmann “St. Louis County…”), this analyst can only speculate about what the problem might have been. In a search for negative reactions in the St. Louis area to the idea of rainscaping, excepting the reports in the Winkelmann blog, only one example was found by this analyst. Here are a couple of selections from a letter to the editor, published by the St Louis Post-Dispatch in 2013 (Niehaus).

“New gardens may rain dollars” (Jan. 6) reports that homeowners in 14 communities may receive up to $2,000 if they “rainscape” their yards to retain run-off into the Deer Creek watershed.”

Mr. Niehaus put the word “rainscape” in quotes in a mocking way, similar to John L. Geiler, Assistant Chief Residential Inspector of St. Louis County Public Works, who mocked the Winkelmanns “rain garden” in his email without having first accepted an invitation to come to look at it (Winkelmann “Drainage Problems Are…”).

“Funny, I don’t recall voting on a measure that would pass along thousands of dollars to needy homeowners in Ladue, Clayton, Creve Coeur, Frontenac, Kirkwood, Warson Woods, etc.”

From that sentence and the rest of the published letter, it is apparent that there is a lot of information that this citizen did not know. For example, rain gardens put in along Deer Creek reduce flooding and pollution in places like South St. Louis and everywhere downstream from that, including many communities not as affluent as the places he mentioned. Nevertheless, appearing to divert taxpayer money to the benefit of wealthy citizens is not a good impression to create, and it would be helpful for the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance to continue to also promote the rain garden projects in other less advantaged parts of the metro area to raise their profile. With prevalent citizen apathy to government activities (Broom and Sha 362) and a dearth of reporters to create original news coverage (Grieco), a lot of misinformation that gets out into the public remains uncorrected and unexamined.

It’s more surprising that some St. Louis County government employees, who work for an organization that is a Deer Creek Watershed member, seem to be little better informed six to seven years later (Winkelmann “Drainage Problems Are…”, “St. Louis County…”). We know that there are many barriers to successful communication between citizens and government as well as branches of government with each other (Broom and Sha 356-366). In addition to lack of interest by citizens and a shortage of reporters, the scale of the task is overwhelming and there are bureaucratic layers, mistrust, and actors with varying agendas to overcome.

Despite all these challenges, the sources I have found in preparing this analysis seem to indicate that the rainscaping movement in the St. Louis area is not dying out, but rather is gaining momentum. Since the Winkelmanns have been left alone by the Department of Public Works since April 2020 (Winkelmann “St. Louis County…”), at least one more of St. Louis County’s internal publics, the Department of Public Works, seems to have been brought further into co-orientation with the other Deer Creek Watershed Alliance members. That is good news, because as evidenced by recent floods, the need for more green infrastructure in our area has not abated.

Works Cited

Allen, Michael. “The Harnessed Channel: How the River Des Peres Became a Sewer.” Preservation Research Office, 2010, preservationresearch.com/infrastructure/the-harnessed-channel-how-the-river-des-peres-became-a-sewer/. Accessed 16 October 2020.

Broom, Glen M. and Bey-Ling Sha. Effective Public Relations. Pearson, 2013.

Buranen, Margaret. “Tackling Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and Flooding Issues in St. Louis.” Endeavor Business Media, 2018, www.stormh2o.com/green-infrastructure/article/13034725/tackling-combined-sewer-overflows-csos-and-flooding-issues-in-st-louis. Accessed 15 October 2020.

Chen, Eli. “Curious Louis: How is St. Louis managing stormwater runoff?.” St. Louis Public Radio, 2017, news.stlpublicradio.org/health-science-environment/2017-01-11/curious-louis-how-is-st-louis-managing-stormwater-runoff. Accessed 15 October 2020.

Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org. Accessed 18 September 2020.

—. “Achievements”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2018, www.deercreekalliance.org/achievements. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Take Action”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/involved. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “The Deer Creek Alliance”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/. Accessed 18 September 2020.

—. “Rainscaping”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/rainscaping. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Reduce Water Pollution”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/pollution. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Lead a Creek Cleanup”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/cleanup. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Webster Groves Green Keepers”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/wg_green_keepers. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Root Docking Invasive Honeysuckle”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/root_docking_honeysuckle. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Learning Opportunities”. Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, 2020, www.deercreekalliance.org/learn. Accessed 15 October 2020.

EcoWorks Unlimited for the Missouri Botanical Garden. “Deer Creek Watershet Management Plan Summary”, 2014, d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/deercreekalliance/pages/48/attachments/original/1526495599/Plan_Summary_20141030_WebVersion.pdf. Accessed 13 October 2020.

Giegerich, Steve. “St. Louis County residents could get money for rainscaping.” STLtoday.com, 2013, www.stltoday.com/news/local/st-louis-county-residents-could-get-money-for-rainscaping/article_f7412a5d-5699-56c5-884b-e4a1f66db66e.html. Accessed 15 October 2020.

Gilberg, Cindy. “Rain Gardens Contribute to Clean Water.” The Healthy Planet, 2011, thehealthyplanet.com/2011/05/rain-gardens-contribute-to-clean-water/. Accessed 15 October 2020.

Greenbaum, Kurt. “Want Your Kirkwood Yard to Look Like This?” Patch Media, 2013, patch.com/missouri/kirkwood/want-your-kirkwood-yard-to-look-like-this. Accessed 15 October 2020.

Grieco, Elizabeth. “U.S. newspapers have shed half of their newsroom employees since 2008.” Pew Research Center, 2020, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/20/u-s-newsroom-employment-has-dropped-by-a-quarter-since-2008/. Accessed 11 October 2020.

Hignett, Katherine. “Viral Video Shows Mississippi River Flooding at St. Louis as River Approaches Historic Levels.” Newsweek, 2019, www.newsweek.com/mississippi-river-flooding-video-crest-1443300. Accessed 16 October 2020.

Lincoln, Ashli. “Residents still allowed to live in condemned apartment complex in University City” KMOV | News 4 St. Louis, 2020, www.kmov.com/news/residents-still-allowed-to-live-in-condemned-apartment-complex-in-university-city/article_d7e46c52-038f-11eb-9a9c-dfdf78456667.html. Accessed 16 October 2020.

“Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2020, www.epa.gov/ms-htf. Accessed 15 October 2020.

“MSD accepting applications for rainscaping grants through October 31.” St. Louis American, 2018, www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/msd-accepting-applications-for-rainscaping-grants-through-october-31/article_846e81d0-9978-11e8-a837-fba7498d138f.html. Accessed 15 October 2020.

MSD Project Clear. “Small Grants Program”. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, 2020, msdprojectclear.org/what-we-do/rainscaping/small-grants/, Accessed 14 October 2020.

—. “Rainscaping.” Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, 2020, msdprojectclear.org/what-we-do/rainscaping/. Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. “MSD Project Clear Initiative.” Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, 2020, msdprojectclear.org/about/project-clear-initiative/. Accessed 13 October 2020.

Niehaus, Craig. “Sustainability siphons money and water.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2013, www.stltoday.com/opinion/mailbag/sustainability-siphons-money-and-water/article_0722da06-d6f2-5b67-b662-0395a41fa1f1.html. Accessed 16 October 2020.

Pringle, Travis. “Rainy Day Garden Party.” Patch Media, 2011, patch.com/missouri/universitycity/rainy-day-garden-party. Accessed 15 October 2020.

“Rain Gardens.” East-West Gateway Council of Governments, 2020, www.onestl.org/toolkit/list/practice/rain-gardens. Accessed 14 October 2020.

Rose, Angie. “A History of River des Peres.” Angieranderson, 2011, angieranderson.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/13/. Accessed 16 October 2020.

Schuessler. “Creve Coeur OKs incentives for eco-friendly landscaping.” STLtoday.com, 2012, www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/creve-coeur-oks-incentives-for-eco-friendly-landscaping/article_79beefd5-e848-53f9-92cc-d4024621bab0.html. Accessed 15 October 2020.

Sutin, Phil. “MSD promotes rain gardens, other methods to slow, clean storm water.” Publisher, copyright date, www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/msd-promotes-rain-gardens-other-methods-to-slow-clean-storm/article_629b10d2-ca5c-53fd-88ed-82e41c24136f.html. Accessed 18 September 2020.

Wicentowski, Danny. “The River Des Peres Is Eating South St. Louis.” Riverfront Times, 2019, www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2019/06/06/the-river-des-peres-is-eating-south-st-louis. Accessed 16 October 2020.

Winkelmann, Carolyn Hasenfratz. “Garden Maintenance in Wet Weather.” Schnarr’s Hardware Company, 2015, schnarrsblog.com/garden-maintenance-in-wet-weather/. Accessed 14 October 2020.

—. “Aquatic Macro Invertebrates at Litzinger Road Ecology Center”. Schnarr’s Hardware Company, 2017, schnarrsblog.com/aquatic-macro-invertebrates-at-litzinger-road-ecology-center/, Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. Photo of Patches. Facebook, 21 June 2017. www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10213641471095335&set=a.4010664309257. Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “MSD’s Project Clear and Our Local Water Issues”. Schnarr’s Hardware Company, 2017, schnarrsblog.com/msds-project-clear-and-our-local-water-issues/, Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. “Tips for Removing Invasive Honeysuckle”. Schnarr’s Hardware Company, 2017, schnarrsblog.com/tips-removing-invasive-honeysuckle/, Accessed 15 October 2020.

—. “Drainage Problems Are Bringing Tom and Me To Court”. Carolyn Hasenfratz Design, 2019, www.chasenfratz.com/wp/drainage-problems-are-bringing-tom-and-i-to-court/, Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. “Mass Communication Final Paper”. Carolyn Hasenfratz Design, 2019, www.chasenfratz.com/wp/mass-communication-final-paper/, Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. “Operation Clean Stream 2019 on the Meramec River”. Carolyn Hasenfratz Design, 2019, www.chasenfratz.com/wp/operation-clean-stream-2019-on-the-meramec-river/, Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. “St. Louis County Harassing Us Again.” Carolyn Hasenfratz Design, 2020, www.chasenfratz.com/wp/st-louis-county-harassing-us-again/. Accessed 18 September 2020.

—. “Barriers to Government and Citizen Communication”. Carolyn Hasenfratz Design, 2020, www.chasenfratz.com/wp/barriers-to-government-and-citizen-communication/, Accessed 13 October 2020.

—. Online photo album with captions. Facebook, 27 September 2020, 10:55 AM, www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10224249615372312&type=3. Accessed 15 October 2020.

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Cookbooks, Collards and Quiche

Moog's Musical Eatery
Moog’s Musical Eatery

Recently on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog, I wrote about one of my favorite cookbooks, harvesting collards and greens from my garden and my favorite quiche recipe.

Read it here:
Collards Taste Great in Quiche

It’s a Great Day for Garden Planning!

Practicing plant symbols and textures according to the book Plan Graphics for the Landscape Designer: 2nd Edition by Tony Bertauski
Practicing plant symbols and textures according to the book Plan Graphics for the Landscape Designer: 2nd Edition by Tony Bertauski

Today the St. Louis area is experiencing a sleet and snow mixture. In a week or so, it will be time to start some seeds indoors for the earliest garden plants such as onions and chives. See the Schnarr’s Hardware calendar that includes suggested seed starting, planting times and harvest times for the St. Louis area. That means it’s not too early to plan your garden for 2020! I’ve been practicing landscape plan drawing as I work on my garden plan. More examples and more details are on the Schnarr’s blog!

ArticleLandscape Plan Drawing – Practice Rendering Symbols