Mention anything about solar panels, wind turbines, or organic gardening to Patrick Gasparro, owner and manger of Nature’s Cradle Nursery and Landscape Design in Eastchester, and what you'll get in return is a broad smile.
An avid supporter of environmental conservation, Gasparro helped members of the Rye High School and Bronxville High School environmental clubs install live modules on flat sections of their respective school rooftops. The vegetation from the "LiveRoof" installed requires little maintenance and acts as a natural insulation to conserve energy. Two summers ago, Gasparro and his staff created Nature's Cradle Rain Water Reclamation System at the full-service nursery.
Clearly, this Tuckahoe resident's livelihood is a labor of love.
What made you decide to open your own business?
This used to be a farm and fruit stand owned by my dad, and he asked me if I wanted to learn how to run a nursery here. I was really excited and had an affinity with plants, and now we're in our 11th season.
What is most challenging part of your day?
I’d call it exciting, pleasing – the seasons and changes in the weather are challenges. You have to be responsive to the environment, which may affect how to care for the plants and keep them alive and in good condition.
What's the most difficult part about running a business?
It’s difficult to predict all expenses and price items appropriately, especially since we do landscape projects. There’s an outlay for labor and materials - its cash-flow management and appropriately pricing services and products. Keeping the plants alive is a lot of work, yet whatever attention you give plants, they give back to you.
If you could change one decision or action during the past years, what would it be?
We’re recycling the rain water (that falls on the roof and in the parking lot) to use for watering the nursery. We now have a 1,500-gallon tank recycling the rain water (that falls on the roof and in the parking lot), and I would have done that sooner.
What do you like most about your business?
I like being around living things, and I think the plants are as alive and sensitive as animals and other people. I wrote the words “love” and “gratitude” near where the water flows, and the water responds to that message. If you write the word “love” on a piece of tape and put it on a glass filled with water, the water molecules adjust themselves around it, and it changes the water molecules. The plants respond to your intentions and your thoughts about them – by writing something and expressing the intention, the plants respond to that.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to have solar panels and add more tanks to use the rainwater. We already do organic lawn care and gardening using organic products and propane for lawnmowers on people’s property. I'd like to be totally self-sufficient - not rely on any outside energy or water source - and to show that if we can do it, others can do it, too.
What’s the status of your plans to convert to all-solar energy?
We put up one wind generator here, and we’re trying to get permission to put up a big solar panel system that would generate the majority of our electricity. It’s not been approved by the town yet.
Editor's Note: This last item is expected to be on the Eastchester Planning Board's September 2011 agenda.