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Cultivating Sustainability: the role of RNG in promoting vibrant gardens



The Pacific Northwest has emerged from the darkness of winter just in time for National Gardening Week. Master gardeners and hobbyists alike will flock to local nurseries and carefully select the latest additions to their gardens and landscaping.


It’s worth considering the role of nurseries in promoting the cultivation and use of native plants, fruits and vegetables. The harsh winters of the Pacific Northwest can make it difficult for young plants to survive, especially at the scale required to supply all the gardeners in our communities. Nurseries provide stable, climate-controlled environments for plants to grow until they are strong enough to survive in a garden.


Nurseries rely on natural gas, the cleanest and most stable fuel source, to power our operations during the unpredictable winter months. We leverage renewable natural gas (RNG), a type of biogas produced from organic waste, such as food scraps, to help us grow our plants and reduce our carbon footprint. It can also be used as a sustainable and low-carbon fuel for transportation, heating, and electricity generation. But did you know that RNG can also be used to enrich the soil and boost plant growth?


One of the main benefits RNG offers for gardening is its high levels of organic matter and nutrients that are essential for healthy soil and plants. When applying RNG to the soil, it helps improve soil structure, increase water retention, and stimulate microbial activity. This, in turn, enhances the availability and uptake of nutrients by plants, leading to better growth, yield, and quality of produce.


There are more advantages. RNG can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and urban waste. When organic waste decomposes in landfills or open fields, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By capturing and processing this methane into RNG, we can not only prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere but also use it as a renewable and carbon-neutral energy source. This can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of gardening and agriculture, both major sources of emissions worldwide.


Further, RNG can provide a sustainable and reliable urban and suburban agriculture energy source. With the growing interest in domestic gardening and community farming, we need affordable, eco-friendly ways to power these activities. RNG can be produced locally from organic waste streams like yard waste and food waste.


In conclusion, as we celebrate National Gardening Week, it’s essential to recognize the crucial role of nurseries in promoting the cultivation and use of native plants, fruits, and vegetables. RNG is a sustainable and low-carbon fuel source that can be produced from organic waste and used to enrich the soil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide a reliable energy source for urban and suburban agriculture. As we continue to prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly practices, RNG is an essential tool that can help us achieve these goals while supporting the growth of healthy and vibrant gardens.


Jeff Stone is the Executive Director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries

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