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New and old converge for Dandelion Day’s 25th anniversary

Locations: News Published

Spring is in full swing and excitement is building for the 25th annual Dandelion Day celebration in Sopris Park on May 13. Since 1998, with the exception of 2020, Bonedalians have gathered every spring to celebrate their town flower, the noble dandelion. This year’s festivities include many beloved traditions, like the Parade of Species, as well as fresh initiatives.

Carbondale Trustees proclaimed this 25th anniversary as “Doctor Dandelion Day” in honor of “Doc” John Philip during their regular meeting on April 25. The proclamation recognizes Doc’s leadership in recognizing the importance of chemical-free parks, as well as culinary and medicinal uses of the dandelion. Doc will also be inducted into the distinguished Order of the Dandelion along with faithful Environmental Board member Fred Malo, Jr.

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Bee Friendly
New this year, Bee Friendly Carbondale, an initiative grown out of the Environmental Board, will launch with an educational booth and presentation. So far, the group consists of all women, from seven months to 80 years in age, meeting twice a week at the Historic Thompson House. Their mission is to increase biodiversity, drought-tolerance and beauty through native and regionally-adapted plant species.

It began eight months ago in Satank, explained Environmental Board Chairperson Hannah-Hunt Moeller. At the coaxing of town matriarch Jane Hendricks, Moeller paid a visit to Dina Bowers’ pollinator-friendly gardens near the old Satank bridge. The conversation kept rolling, with statewide, national and international turf removal initiatives and increasing awareness of the importance of diverse habitat for ecosystems health.

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“Lawns are our nation’s largest, most irrigated and chemical-laden crop,” according to a Bee Friendly Carbondale statement, “consuming an incredible 40 million acres of land, 12 times more water than native planting, more pesticides than the agriculture industry and 3 million gallons of gas each year.”

The group looked at aerial images of Carbondale and noticed an abundance of green spaces with the potential of converting turf into habitat. Inspired by efforts on the Front Range, these women decided to create a Carbondale-focused initiative as an umbrella for connecting resources.

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“We want to be that for the Valley and Carbondale,” said Bowers. “And I think the Environmental Board is a good home for that right now.”

The initiative has three prongs: education, policy and demonstration gardens. Bowers and Moeller have both received funding to convert their own lawns, thanks to the Colorado Native Plant Society. They are compiling a list of funding opportunities, including the state’s new Turf Replacement Program, and getting involved with the Town of Carbondale’s adopt-a-garden program. They have identified more than 60 public garden spaces in Carbondale.

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Eventually, within their seven-year plan, Bee Friendly Carbondale would like to convert 13,500 square feet of the Historic Thompson House lawn into demonstration gardens. First, Moeller said, they will need to show success in other public spaces. “Maintenance is really where the biggest challenge has presented itself.”

Ideally, diverse species can keep “what gardeners call ‘invaders’” out, offered Bowers, for “a more self-sustaining plant community.” She continued, “When you look at the world from a problem perspective, it’s pretty hard to start. But when you identify one thing, it feels more hopeful.”

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Look for Bee Friendly Carbondale at Dandelion Day for resources about how to convert your lawn and what plants are best adapted for this region. Anyone may join the subcommittee, even if they are not a member of the Environmental Board.

Education opportunities
You’ll be able to learn more from Bee Friendly Carbondale at the learning tent, a Dandelion Day feature that’s returning after being absent for many years. They will present at 1pm and also host a large seed swap for gardeners and farmers to trade varieties of flowers and vegetables.

Other sessions include: “Dandelions for Food, Medicine and More!” led by Sue Gray at 11am; “Transforming Lawns for Bees & Biodiversity” by Amy Hauver with the Garfield County CSU Extension at noon; and “Regenerative Stewardship” with Katrina Blair of Turtle Lake Refuge and Bee Happy Lands at 2pm.

The community will also have an opportunity to join Blair for a Bee Happy Lands organic stewardship demonstration at the Carbondale Nature Park on Friday, May 12, at 9am. She and her team will conduct a treatment on Canada thistle and yellow toadflax and a training for Town staff that is open to the public. Citizens must register to attend by contacting Parks & Rec Director Eric Brendlinger at or 970-510-1277.

Farm map
Another new: local tourism organizations will unveil “The Roaring Fork + Farm Map,” a food and farm visitor guide beautifully illustrated by artist Sarah Uhl. The map includes farms, ranches, gardens, bars and restaurants from Aspen to Silt. The guide brochure will make its debut at Dandelion Day.

Tags: #Bee Friendly Carbondale #Colorado Native Plant Society #Dandelion Day #Dina Bowers #Doc #Fred Malo #Hannah-Hunt Moeller #Sue Gray
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