SustainAbility Newsletter

John James Audubon Conservation Network

John James AudubonAudubon Lifestyles is engaged in keeping the spirit of bird conservation alive in the name of the John James Audubon Bird Conservation Network, through a programs for communities, called the Bird Sanctuary Program.

In these tough economic times people might wonder: “Why should we care about birds?” In short, while the United States is blessed with diverse landscapes, a wealth of natural resources, and spectacular wildlife, we are also blessed with more than 800 different bird species, and we share these birds with people from around the world, as billions of migratory birds follow the seasons across oceans and continents. Birds have become a part of our national heritage. As Americans, our passion for nature is growing ever more evident, as wildlife watching generates $122 billion in economic output annually, and one in every four American adults considers themselves to be a "bird watcher".

John James Audubon was born on April 26, 1785. He grew to become a famous American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in the early nineteenth century, and published Birds of America, a massive book containing 435 hand-colored plates of 1,065 individual birds. Audubon became the chosen name and symbol for a movement coined “The Audubon Movement" that began in the late 1890s to stop the unrestricted slaughter of birds. Early Audubon members pledged to shun the fashion of the day of wearing hats and coats adorned with bird feathers and wings, and to hunt birds for consumption only, rather than sport or trade. Early members also studied birds, improved their habitats, and fought for bird protection. Their activism fledged a broader conservation movement and eventually led to passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918. The Act ended trade in migratory birds, and was among the first federal protections ever afforded to wildlife.

The U.S. human population has skyrocketed from about 8 million to 300 million since that time, and as we have harvested energy and food, grown industries, and built cities, we have often failed to consider the consequences to nature. During our history, we have lost a part of our natural heritage—and degraded and depleted the resources upon which our quality of life depends. We have lost more than half of our nation’s original wetlands, 98% of our tallgrass prairie, and virtually all virgin forests east of the Rockies. Since the birth of our nation, four American bird species have gone extinct, including the Passenger Pigeon, once the world’s most abundant bird. At least 10 more species are possibly extinct.

Birds are bellwethers of our natural and cultural health as a nation—they are indicators of the integrity of the environments that provide us with clean air and water, fertile soils, abundant wildlife, and the natural resources on which our economic development depends. In the past 40 years, major public, private, and government initiatives have made strides for conservation. Has it been enough? How are birds faring?

We ask you to join us in continuing to reverse the damage to our nation’s habitats and protect our remaining natural landscapes—the foundation upon  which our  precious resources, our wildlife, and the lives of our children depend. Cooperative conservation efforts among the government, conservation organizations, and ordinary citizens—private landowners, hunters, and bird watchers—really are making a difference.

Audubon Lifestyles, a non-profit organization founded upon the Principles for Sustainability, is engaged in keeping the spirit of bird conservation alive in the name of the John James Audubon Bird Conservation Network, and has developed programs for communities and landscapes of all types called The Bird Sanctuary Program. Simply stated, the Bird Sanctuary Program programs provide direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for municipalities, communities and businesses throughout the United States who have embraced the importance of birds as part of our American Heritage, and who include “bird friendly” landscapes in the way their properties are being managed. This includes landscapes with a focus on the needs of birds during their nesting, migratory and winter seasons. The Bird Sanctuary Program is intended to be fun, educational, increase community and civic pride, and encourage public participation.

Portions of this story have been excerpted from the “State of the Birds” and can be found at

Learn more about the Bird Sanctuary Program here




References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
The International Sustainability Council


American Society of Golf Course Architects

Sustainability Campaign

Cold Climate Housing Research Center

The State of the Birds

Green Living Tips

The Daily Green

Energy Star 

Bird City, Kansas

Urbana University 

Sustainable Northern Shelter


SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Edible Landscaping?

edible landscapesEdible landscaping offers an alternative to conventional residential landscapes that are designed solely for ornamental purposes. Edible landscapes can be just as attractive, yet produce fruits and vegetables for home use. One can install an entirely edible landscape, or incorporate simple elements into existing yards and gardens.

Edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the constructed landscape, principally the residential landscape. Edible landscapes combine fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs. These designs can incorporate any garden style and can include anywhere from 1-100% edible species.

Why landscape with edibles?

There are many reasons to incorporate edible plants into the residential landscape. These include:

  • To enjoy the freshness and flavor of home-grown, fully ripened fruits and vegetables
  • To control the quantity and kind of pesticides and herbicides used on the foods you consume
  • To increase the food security of your household
  • To save on grocery bills
  • To grow unusual varieties not available in stores
  • To get outside, interact with the natural world, and have fun

History of edible landscaping
Edible landscaping is as old as gardening itself and has undergone a recent revival. Ancient Persian gardens combined both edible and ornamental plants. Medieval monastic gardens included fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs. Plans for 19th century English suburban yards, which modeled themselves after country estates, often included edible fruits and berries. The edible components of residential landscapes were largely lost in this country to the now familiar shade trees, lawns, and foundation plantings. In the past two decades, however, there has been a revival of interest in edible landscaping, thanks to the work of early pioneers such as Rosalind Creasy.

How to landscape with edibles
Like all plants used in the landscape, edible plants grow best in certain conditions. Many (but not all!) fruits and vegetables do best where they receive at least 6 hours of full sunlight a day. Most also like well-drained soil. Parts of your yard that satisfy these conditions are good places to start an edible landscape. To perform a complete makeover on these areas, consult the books recommended below for a full design process. To start simply, consider a one-for-one substitution. Where you might have planted a shade tree, plant a fruit tree. Where you need a deciduous shrub, plant a currant or hazelnut. Where you have always had chrysanthemums, plant bachelor's buttons—you can eat them. Edible plants come in nearly all shapes and sizes and can perform the same landscape functions as ornamental plants. Figure 2 shows how a small area, about 25 by 25 feet, can be planted almost entirely with edibles that have ornamental value and appear to be a decorative garden. The list can be changed to suit individual taste or local garden conditions.

Here are some more ideas for edible landscapes:

  • Put pots of herbs on the patio
  • Include cherry tomatoes in a window box or hanging basket
  • Build a grape arbor
  • Grow nasturtium, violas, borage, or calendula and include flowers in salads
  • Eat your daylilies
  • Plant a fruit tree in the corner of your yard
  • Grow Red-jewel Cabbage
  • Plant colorful pepper varieties (e.g., Lipstick, Habanero) alongside flowers
  • Tuck lettuce, radishes, or other short-lived greens into a flower bed
  • Replace a barberry hedge with gooseberries
  • Put basil together with coleus in a planter
  • Try yellow or "rainbow" chard
  • Grow chives around the mailbox
  • Train raspberries up your fence

Won't it take a lot of work?
Many common ornamental plants can survive with minimal care. Most edible plants, however, require a certain amount of attention to produce well. They may require a little extra watering, pruning, fertilizing, or pest management. The time required, however, need not be exorbitant. To care for a fruit tree, for instance, may take only a few hours a year, while the yield could be enormous. It is best to treat edible landscaping as a hobby and not a chore. You may find yourself checking on your plants more than they strictly require, just because you want to see how they're doing. If you are concerned about being overwhelmed, just start small.

The possibilities for edible landscaping are endless. By incorporating just one—or many—edible plants into a home landscape, you can develop a new relationship with your yard and the food you eat.





References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainable Demonstration Project Blog

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Scotland Yards Golf Club

Audubon Outdoors

Love and Dodson

Green World Parth

Turf Feeding Systems

The Dodson Group      

To learn about sponsorship opportunities please call us at: 727-733-0762
This Issue of the SustainAbility Newsletter sponsored in part by:

The Dodson Group

$25 Annually $100 Annually $250 Reg / $100 Annually


Sponsors are a critically important part to the success of ISC-Audubon. As a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating sustainability, we offer all of our programs to our members free of charge, and are publicly available for download on our website.

ISC-Audubon is proud to extend the opportunity to select businesses and organizations to become sponsors of our sustainability education and advocacy programs. As a sponsor, your business or organization can realize significant value.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity. 


A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

Read more

You are here: Home Broadcast Audubon SustainAbility Newsletter Archives Fall 2009 John James Audubon Conservation Network