Wildlife Rescue Center Honors the Barefoot Gardener

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Wildlife Rescue Center boardmember Suzanne Ruggles, known to many as “The Barefoot Gardener,” has received the first Suffolk County Water Authority Source Water Protection Award. This award is co-sponsored by the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, The Nature Conservancy and Neighborhood Network and seeks to recognize individuals actively working towards ensuring the quality and quantity of our drinking water.

Suzanne’s mission is to dissuade people from using pesticides, insecticides and other unnatural additives to their lawn and gardens. She focuses instead on different ways to co-create with nature. She uses native plants to create a stunning and naturally balanced landscape. First she assesses the area for existing plants and then, if necessary, re-vegetates using native plants.

Suzanne lectures that native gardens require less water because they are suited to the climate, soils and other environmental factors. They also have built-in defenses against native insect, viral and fungal predators.

Therefore they have no need for costly chemical assistance. Native gardens, she assures, will attract native creatures such as butterflies, turtles, hummingbirds,songbirds, beneficial insects and countless other species. The presence of these creatures help strike the balance that nature intended, where birds control the overpopulation of ticks and mosquitoes.

She is committed to educating people of the harm caused by bright green carpet like lawns. They are only possible by using non-native grasses and require the assistance of very harmful chemicals. These pesticides, insecticides and other concoctions seep into the ground and into our water supply. Storm water runoff is also increased by the existence of lawns instead of native trees, grasses and wildflowers.

By showing people how spectacular, how bio-diverse and how life-affirming native plantings can be, Suzanne is quickly transforming lawns, not only on Long Island, but all over the country. She speaks on a monthly basis at The Nature Lyceum School for Organics in Westhampton. Also, she volunteers her lectures to schools, civic and environmental groups.

We are extremely lucky to have Suzanne as part of our new educational program. If your group has any interest in a presentation by Suzanne and one of our “Wildlife Ambassadors” (educational animals) please contact us at 631-728-4200.

If Long Island residents would begin to honor natural systems and re-vegetate with native plants, it would significantly reduce the amount pollution entering our groundwater, and leaching into our bays, rivers and waterways. And, since native plantings, in most cases, require no artificial irrigation once they are established, would also serve as a major water conservation measure.

Re-establishment of native plants help to insure the bio-diversity of the East End. Start enjoying the benefits, the joys and the freedom of using native plants.

Suzanne promises that you will witness a miracle if you “Go Native.”

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