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A Multi-Lingual Approach: Spanish Language Green Infrastructure Workshop Hosted by Sustainable Princeton and The Watershed Institute

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#Green Infrastructure/Stormwater Management
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Lucia Middleton, The Watershed Institute

Photo credit: Lucia Middleton, The Watershed Institute

For the first time ever, Sustainable Princeton and The Watershed Institute hosted a green infrastructure workshop entirely in Spanish. Green infrastructure is an increasingly important landscaping practice in New Jersey, especially with the new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit and the increased flood risk that New Jerseyans continue to face. While learning and certification programs for green infrastructure practices exist in New Jersey, few are offered in Spanish despite a large portion of the landscaper workforce being Spanish-speaking, which means there are huge outreach opportunities in this sector.

Despite the stormy weather, the workshop was attended by 16 landscapers representing six locally owned businesses based in Princeton, Hamilton, and Ewing Townships.

“It was a really rainy day, and we knew the rain might have made it difficult,” said Christine Symington, executive director of Sustainable Princeton. “But it was kind of ironic because one of the topics was stormwater and the importance of green infrastructure, and how to deal with the fact that we are experiencing so much more intense rain.”

Taking place over four hours, the workshop covered topics such as the new New Jersey stormwater management law and the Princeton stormwater ordinance, rain gardens as a solution to stormwater management, how to construct and maintain a rain garden, and the main rules and guidance for landscaping work in Princeton. The content was based on what we were hearing from the landscaping community about what they wanted to hear about,” Symington said. “They also wanted to know what Princeton has done to implement the stricter stormwater rules and about increasing interest from homeowners in sustainability and native plants.”

The workshop was a success, with the landscapers in attendance reporting that they learned a lot of new useful information regarding native vs invasive plants, garden maintenance, and permitting. They also had the opportunity to ask Jim Purcell, the Princeton Assistant Municipal Engineer, who plays a key role in promoting the green infrastructure ordinance in Princeton, any questions about the new policy that were not covered in the program. 

“The Watershed Institute was thrilled to partner with Sustainable Princeton to develop and test this program specifically designed for Spanish-speaking landscapers,” Sophie Glovier, Chief Operating Officer at The Watershed Institute said.  “Bringing accessible information about green infrastructure to the landscaping community is vital as we work to combat climate-related flooding issues and challenges to our water quality like harmful algal blooms. We will be sharing this program design and lessons learned so that other communities across the state can learn from this successful program in Princeton.”

In 2021, Princeton adopted its stormwater management ordinance (local law) that requires new development, including single-family residences, that add 400 square feet or more of new impervious surface to manage the stormwater runoff using green infrastructure. More than a year later, the ordinance has had success in Princeton, with over 25 rain gardens approved for single-family residential projects. Once matured and functional, these rain gardens will help filter more than 115,000 gallons of runoff and retain over 45,000, which promotes filtration and decreases the contribution to flooding. And programs like this will drive those numbers even higher. 

Workshop presenters included: Fredy Estrada, a former landscape company owner and community liaison consultant; Lucia Middleton, Community Water Advocate from the Watershed Institute; Molly Jones, nonprofit consultant; and Jim Purcell, Assistant Municipal Engineer of Princeton.

Businesses represented at the workshop included:

  • Dogwood Lawn Service LLC
  • Verdant Organic Lawns
  • Plantlife Landscaping LLC
  • Guzman Landscaping
  • Antonio Barillas
  • J&J Tree Service

For more information or questions, please contact Lucia Middleton at

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