Sustainable environment grants will enhance neighborhoods

Twenty-two local organizations were awarded Sustainable Environmental Grants totaling $70,684. The grants, overseen by the city’s Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, are designed to promote creative, collaborative projects that improve and protect the environmental health of Lexington’s neighborhoods.

The grants, which require a 50 percent match, range between $226 and $5,000. This money will support a variety of projects in Lexington such as tree plantings, community gardens and installation of outdoor waste containers. The projects must be completed by May 31, 2017.

“The Sustainable Environment Grants encourage people to enhance Lexington neighborhoods by volunteering their time, sometimes physically taking part in the work,” says Susan Plueger, the Division of Environmental Services’ director. She adds, “Though these are relatively small grants, many recipients leverage them to get additional donations which brings more people and groups together to improve our community.”

The 2016 recipient organizations, their projects and grant amounts are:

Ashwood Townhouse Association                Rain garden                             $3,830

Bell Court Neighborhood Association           Tree planting                           $5,000

Chilesburg Maintenance Association            Tree planting                           $4,750

Community Montessori School                     Pollinator garden                     $2,616

Firebrook Estates HOA                                Wetland sign                            $226

First Alliance Church                                    Rain garden                             $2,100

FoodChain                                                   Rooftop garden                        $4,825

Garden Club of Lexington                            Planting materials                    $687

Jessie Higginbotham Tech Trust Inc.           Community garden                  $2,450

Lakeshore Village HOA                               Community garden                  $1,746

Lansdowne Neighborhood Association       Tree planting                           $3,850

Living Arts & Science Center                       Wildlife habitat                        $5,000

Meadowthorpe Elementary                          Butterfly garden                      $4,409

Nature Conservancy KY Chapter                Native garden and cistern       $5,000

Playhouse Preschool & Kindergarten         Natural area with trees            $4,830

Quail Run Townhouses Association            Tree planting                           $585

Rosa Parks Elementary PTA                      Teaching garden                     $4,800

Sikh Association of the Bluegrass              Community garden                 $3,600

Squires Elementary School                        Waste containers                    $2,857

Still Meadow HOA                                      Tree planting                           $1,523

Transylvania University                               Rain garden                            $2,480

University of Kentucky                                Forest restoration                   $3,520

 

This is the eighth year of the grant program. The last of the 2015 projects, including one by the Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC), wrapped up in May.  

“We named our project ‘Pleasure Grounds’ because that was the old name for the area that faces Fourth (Street),” says Rebecca Glasscock, a professor at BCTC. “It is sort of an odd name, but we wanted to be true to the history. We wanted to have a project that would involve BCTC’s community, provide educational opportunities for students and the public, and to demonstrate that one can grow food and flowers at the same time and that the result can be beautiful.”

The project began in the spring of 2015, when fruit trees were planted and the outline for the trail - approximately .2 miles in length - was established. “We were able to find a namesake fruit tree – the Newtown Pippin Apple,” Glasscock says. “The two specimens of this tree have been planted and are leafing out nicely. In addition to the other fruit trees (planted in the fall of 2015), we have planted several Kentucky Coffee trees, wild plum, sassafras, black cherry, and cherrybark oak.”

In the fall and winter, administrators and faculty planted 500 daffodil bulbs and 200 dwarf irises along the inner rim of the trail. This spring, 125 strawberry plants were planted between the daffodils and the irises. “Borage, which is a companion plant for strawberries, have been started indoors and will soon be planted alongside the strawberries,” Glasscock says.

Architectural Technology students were asked to design an informational kiosk for the trail. Students in BCTC’s carpentry program will build it. Other students have worked on a brochure.

Welding program faculty members built a bench for the trail. Students in BCTC’s Computerized Manufacturing and Machining Program are engraving a marble plaque for the kiosk and one for the bench. Global Environmental Issues students laid large stones in front of the bench, to finish the look.

Humanity students will be planting a tree to honor the memory of those who lived and died at Eastern State. The son of one of BCTC’s adjunct professors will be designing and implementing compost and water catchment systems for the trail as his Eagle Scout project.

To help raise money for the trail, Danny Mayer’s students organized two successful bake sales.  Mayer says he enjoys walking the trail and expects that, “In the future, as things grow and the college moves into its new science building on campus, it will serve as a student learning lab for plant and biology and environmental science technology students.”

Glasscock says the involvement in the project has far exceeded her expectations. “It turned out better than we expected because so many individuals and groups have been involved.” And, long-term involvement has been built into the project; BCTC’s administrators, the school’s Student Government Association, ambassadors and students have adopted 24-foot sections to plan, plant, and tend to on an on-going basis. 

Most of the $2,792 Sustainable Environmental Grant awarded to BCTC in 2015 was used to purchase plants. “The plants we’ve chosen were selected to demonstrate what Kentucky native plants look like, how companion planting works, what sorts of plants draw pollinators, how fruits and flowers can be beautiful together, and such. We have planted trees that are native, will provide habitat for birds, and will add to Lexington’s tree canopy. We are hoping that this trail will act as an incubator of ideas.”

Glasscock says she thinks the city’s sustainability grant program has a positive influence. “People can do a lot of good things with a little money and a lot of enthusiasm.”

Learn more about the Pleasure Ground Trail Project at http://bluegrass.kctcs.edu/en/Sustainability/Sustainability_Efforts/Newtown_Trail_Project.aspx

Pictured at right:  Rebecca Glasscock, BCTC professor

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Image of Rebecca Glasscock at project site