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