Restoring Wild: A Panel Discussion

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Program Description


Restoring Wild, is a presentation and panel discussion with Mark Fowler, Grace Farms Nature Initiative Director, and Penn Marchael, Land Manager, that will be moderated by Louise Washer, President of the Norwalk River Watershed Association. This program will focus on the big picture comeback story of the resilience of forests and woodlands in New England. This presentation will also focus on native pollinator-friendly pesticide-free plants as the solution to "restoring wild" in our own communities. 

At first glance, suburbia may look sanitized and neatly ordered by man, but Mother Nature quickly adapts and learns how to thrive again. Today, in much of the Northeast, nature has reclaimed forests which had nearly been completely cut down, and wildlife has followed. Animals, which had nearly disappeared by the early 20th century are now found all over suburban areas, and are even found in urban parts of New York City. 

This incredible comeback story of resilience of nature in suburban areas requires us to re-frame what “wild” means in our modern world in order to value – and care for – the incredible wild lands that exist in our own yards. The new definition for wild lands are places where native plants and wildlife can thrive alongside humans.

What is the solution for "restoring wild?" By planting native pollinator-friendly plants on our back porch, yard, or town green, and reducing the use of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, we can all be part of the solution, and can make a better quality of life for humans as well as give Mother Nature an opportunity to thrive alongside us.

Mark Fowler serves as Nature Initiative Director for Grace Farms Foundation. Mark is a National Geographic Channel filmmaker and Emmy-nominated wildlife television host who grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut. In addition to his film work, he serves as the Vice President of Wildlife and Conservation at the Explorers Club. Mark graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Environmental Studies. He devotes his career to preserving the natural world, restoring endangered species, combatting wildlife trafficking, and inspiring the public to experience the awe and wonder of nature.

Penn Marchael is a Land Manager based in Brooklyn and Bedford Hills, NY. Throughout his career he has cultivated a deep understanding of horticulture and ecology which he uses to execute successfully vibrant landscapes. Penn has over ten years of experience in project management, landscape construction, and maintenance. In those ten years he has installed and maintained meadows from Virginia to Northern New York with a total of over one hundred fifty acres installed and many more maintained and monitored. Previously he worked with Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, Eastern Land Management, JW Townsend and other firms. His present focus is growing his business, Pennington Grey, where he aspires to train a new generation of land managers that will lead the landscape industry away from traditional practices and towards a more sustainable and dynamic approach.

Louise Washer serves as president of the Norwalk River Watershed Association and is on the steering committees of both the Hudson-to-Housatonic Regional Conservation Partnership and the Pollinator Pathway Northeast, which she helped create in 2017 in Wilton and Ridgefield, and which now connects over 235 towns across the region.

This program is part of the Ridgefield Pollinator Pathway Series and is presented by the Ridgefield Library, Norwalk River Watershed Association, and the Ridgefield Pollinator Pathway.