So it’s no surprise that Seattle Parks and Recreation is teaming up with Distant Lands Coffee on an innovative program to preserve and maintain local city parks, through the use of recycled materials.
Under the program, Distant Lands Coffee donates burlap coffee bags to the Parks Department. “We use the bags to control invasive plants and weeds such as the Himalayan Blackberry from inhabiting and taking over park land, and choking native plants,” said Michael Yadrick, Plant Ecologist with Seattle Parks and Recreation. “Amazingly, just last year, these sacks were used in 79 Seattle parks.”
The process is known as 'sheet mulching', an effective technique used in park areas dominated by invasive plants such as blackberry bushes. After the weeds are pulled, the ground is layered with Distant Lands' water permeable burlap sacks, creating a solid foundation for native plant regrowth. Wood chips are applied above which smothers the weed and jumpstarts the soil biology of a forest ecosystem.
The partnership between Seattle Parks and Recreation and Distant Lands Coffee is one part of the department’s 20-year plan, called the Green Seattle Partnership, to restore native plants to 2,500 acres of forested parkland in the city by 2025.
In 2013 alone, Distant Lands donated approximately 25,000 burlap coffee bags. “It’s nice to know that our coffee sacks have a second life with the Seattle Parks,” said Leslie Brazeau, Marketing Director of Distant Lands Coffee.
The sacks are especially effective on land formerly filled with Himalayan Blackberry. This noxious weed is spreading like wildfire, affecting nearly 20 percent of forested parkland in Seattle. It can help lead to the erosion of riverbanks, and destroy diverse habitats for native species, such as salmon and migratory birds. It’s also hard to keep from re-sprouting after it’s been pulled. The burlap treatment has been one successful tactic to holding it down.
Restoring Seattle's forests began in 2005 and the approximate average cost to the city is $25,000 per acre. The project uses the support of about 88,000 volunteer hours per year. Eliminating invasive weeds can potentially save the city millions of dollars on infrastructure because native trees, shrubs, and healthy soils is better at controlling stormwater runoff, filtering air pollution and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.
The Parks Department has many volunteer activities going on in every corner of the city for Earth Day on April 22, which will help achieve this goal. To view a calendar listing of restoration opportunities relating to the Seattle Green Partnership, please visit: http://seattle.cedar.greencitypartnerships.org/
About Distant Lands Coffee
Founded in the lush farmlands of Costa Rica forty-five years ago, Distant Lands Coffee provides the world’s finest specialty coffees to its customers and partners in the United States and around the world. As a farmer-first vertically integrated specialty coffee company, Distant Lands ensures the quality, freshness and flavor of its coffee by controlling the supply from seed to cup. Its customers include leading grocery and food service companies in America. The company’s operating divisions include coffee farms and mills, green coffee trading, multi-national quality control services, and roasting plants in Seattle, WA and Tyler, TX. For more information, visit www.dlcoffee.com.
About Green Seattle Partnership
The Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) is a unique public-private venture dedicated to promoting a livable city by re-establishing and maintaining 2500 acres of healthy forested parkland by 2025. Our vision is a city with diverse, invasive-free, sustainable forested parklands. The Green Seattle Partnership 20-Year Plan was inspired by over 10 years and more than 500,000 hours of citizen volunteerism dedicated to reforestation of Seattle’s Parks. Now, in year nine of the program, GSP has enrolled over 1,000 additional acres in restoration, brought on 150 citizen forest stewards and has over 80 parks in active restoration across Seattle. For more information visit www.greenseattle.com.