Outer Comstock residents Betty Bruni and Chris Bartlett wanted to create an environmental initiative to benefit the community. The neighborhood’s “Art, Garden and Sustainability Trail,” a first-of-its-kind event, is that idea becoming a reality. 

The event, hosted by the Outer Comstock Neighborhood Association, will take place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature 27 artists, 13 gardeners, a food truck and water stations. 

The Sustainability Trail is a part of the organization’s greater initiative to revitalize infrastructure, beautify the Outer Comstock community and foster ongoing public education about native plant sustainability. 

“We need to understand that we all have a responsibility to use our space to promote environmental initiatives that will help save our world,” Bruni said.

Outer Comstock Neighborhood Association “Art, Garden and Sustainability Trail” map illustrated by Deborah Donhe. Photo courtesy of Betty Bruni, OCNA co-chair.

As part of its mission to advocate for sustainable elements, OCNA members will issue four petitions with several urgent causes for attendees to review, including implementing more sidewalks and crosswalks to increase residential livability and walkability; strengthening road and street pavements to withstand dense traffic; reducing road salt; and reforming the county’s legislation on beautifying easements with native natural plants.

A longtime resident of Outer Comstock, Bruni is also a habitat gardener who sees great value in sustaining native plants of the region and educating others about plant sustainability. 

Bruni has experience with planting her own vegetable and fruit gardens, and lately, her favorite thing to plant is cardinal flowers. She feels she has a responsibility to gather, maintain and share native seeds, ever since she learned the sources are running low.

The OCNA event will equip guests with  abundant sources to learn about native plants and gain insight about planting tips and sustainable practices. Visitors will be able to speak with master gardeners and plant experts on site, including Janet Allen, president and co-founder of the local Wild Ones chapter Habitat Gardening in Central New York, and Janice Wiles, owner of Go Native! Perennials LLC and Doce Lume Farm.

Many of the 27 featured artists will present artwork that includes sustainable elements, Bruni said.

“We’re just hoping that we can draw some attention to the neighborhood, but more importantly to our overarching theme, which is to draw more attention to sustainability and helping people understand that our ideas about beauty are not sustainable,” Bruni said. “Lawns with fertilizers and high maintenance and herbicides. We have to change this because we don’t have a lot of time left.”

All visitors are encouraged to pick up their maps at 1438 Comstock Ave. to begin the 2-mile-long trail walk. The Outer Comstock neighborhood is located on Comstock Avenue, nestled in between Ainsley Drive and East Colvin Street.

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