Shade Grown Coffee

The education department has created a ‘coffee card’ that explains to Como visitors why they should purchase shade grown coffee. Coffee cards are available for interpreters to give out to visitors, who can then show the card in Garden Safari Gifts to receive a 10% discount on shade grown coffee.

The shade grown label on coffee means that the beans were grown on a plantation that provides a rainforest home for birds and animals. Over the last 20 years, many large coffee plantations have switched to full sun production, and in doing so eliminated the forest that serves as a critical habitat to many species of migratory birds. Approximately 200 species of birds are known as neo-tropical migrants, breeding in North America and migrating south to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean islands for the winter.

Plant Rescue Center

Many plants are under severe threat of extinction from over-collection and destruction of their native habitats. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory has been designated as a Plant Rescue Center by the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This program was created in order to salvage plants seized through the enforcement of regulations put in place by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It was established in an effort to curb the illegal collection, documentation and trade of plants and to ensure their survival after confiscation.

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to pest control that utilizes regular monitoring to determine if and when treatments are needed. It then employs physical, mechanical, cultural, biological and educational tactics to keep pest numbers low enough to prevent unacceptable damage or annoyance. Treatments are made only when and where monitoring has indicated that the pests will cause unacceptable economic, medical or aesthetic damage. Treatments are chosen and timed to be most effective and least hazardous to non-target organisms and the general environment. As part of the IPM program beneficial insects are released in the glasshouses to prey on pest insects – particularly in the MMC’s public areas where pesticide use is extremely limited. In 2005, over 1 million beneficial insects were released.

Buckthorn Eradication

Buckthorn is an invasive plant that robs native plants of nutrients, light and moisture. Overgrown buckthorn can degrade wildlife habitat, contribute to erosion and serve as a host to pests such as fungus and harmful aphids. Buckthorn eradication at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory campus is a goal of the horticulture staff. Targeted areas for buckthorn eradication include the zoo exhibits, behind-the-scene areas, and the grounds that adjoin the Como Ordway Memorial Japanese Garden. Progress was made in 2004 with the participation of a large group of volunteers from Comcast and is also made annually with existing staff, but more resources will be required to achieve total eradication.