SPEAKER & TALK:
Melanie Sifton is a horticulturist with a background in public gardens and landscape management, and a PhD candidate at University of Toronto’s Institute of Forestry & Conservation. For her doctoral research, she has spent the last few years investigating new soil amendment strategies for the urban forest, including trials in Toronto parklands and on green roofs. As the former director of Humber Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology in Toronto, and the former Vice President of Horticulture & Facilities for Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City, Melanie is passionate about urban environmental health, ecological landscape design, and land-based education. Warning: if there is an open space -even a small, dark, neglected, and seemingly inhospitable place - she is compelled to try to grow plants in it!
As our cities and developed areas continue to grow up and outward, urban forests and urban vegetation of all types have become complex resources that are more challenging than ever to nurture. While there are numerous stresses affecting urban plants, limitations like drought, compaction, nutrient imbalances, and contaminants often lead back to soil issues. What can be done to promote healthy plants in difficult and degraded urban soils? This presentation will explain new research and some promising results from soil amendments like biochar, nitrogen-fixing companion plants, and biofertilizers, and provide some practical options for restoring and assisting our precious urban forest soils and plants.
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