START is pleased to introduce the following guest article by Charles Reith, President, Florida House Board of Directors and Science Advisor, Southface Institute, about the exciting new Microforest project at Nathan Benderson Park.

Following the great public interest in the Microforest that was planted at the Celery Fields last October by the Sarasota Urban ReForesters, we are now working on Sarasota’s second high-performance Microforest that will help control stormwater and reduce the excess nutrients that flow into our waterways.

On Saturday, July 18th, over 100 volunteers came to Nathan Benderson Park to install the planting bed of cardboard and wood chips shown above to prepare the soil for the hundreds of trees and bushes that will be planted for the new Microforest on Saturday, August 7th.

The project is being spearheaded by the Florida Veterans For Common Sense Fund with additional funding from START, the Sarasota Bay Rotary Club and Michael Saunders & Company. The other important partners in the project are the host organization, The Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Association which runs Nathan Benderson Park, and the Suncoast Science Center, also known as the Fab Lab.

The Fab Lab’s interns in the summer science program designed and planned the Microforest. The group consists of students from four local high schools and one college who are learning all about coastal water quality, climate change and how a properly designed Microforest can mitigate the environmental damage caused by pollution. At Nathan Benderson Park, the dense forest of native species will intercept, slow and purify rainfall to abate nonpoint source pollution and it will sequester a significant amount of carbon to help combat greenhouse warming.

This Microforest enhances the attributes of the original prototype Microforest installed at the Celery Fields with a more dense planting of trees and a thicker and uninterrupted bed of cardboard and wood chips that will reduce evaporation and control weeds.

You can participate in the tree planting for this Microforest on Saturday, August 7th, by contacting Charles Reith at for details.

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