Conservation Landscaping – Homestead Village Grounds Crews Receive Training - Homestead Village

Conservation Landscaping – Homestead Village Grounds Crews Receive Training

As a next phase of last year’s Green Landscaping Master Plan, nine Homestead Village grounds crew members participated in a 15-hour training with Elyse Jurgen of Waxwing EcoWorks, a local native plant landscaping business. Linda Ferich, of Lancaster Conservancy and Homestead’s liaison from last year’s grant, secured grant money from Clean Water Partners to fund training for the crew.

What are they learning?  

How to think of landscaping as creating habitat for wildlife – especially to help rebuild a declining bird population by supporting insects and caterpillars needed for baby birds to thrive. 

There are numerous native plants for each growing condition – wet, dry, sun, shade and selecting appropriate ones can reduce the need for chemical applications. 

Grass has a shallow root system that does not absorb much water, and there are numerous other options that can absorb rainwater as well as promote wildlife. 

There are ground-cover plants that can be used as alternatives to mulch and can provide shelter for nesting and over-wintering wildlife.  

Retirement communities, schools, and churches have some of the largest properties that can be used to help wildlife, promote healthy soil, clean the water and air, while at the same time look beautiful. 

How to plan, prepare, create, and maintain a landscaping site using conservation principles. 

There is rapidly increasing demand for conservation landscapers, as businesses and homeowners get on board with creating community wildlife habitats. 

What will they be doing for hands-on projects? 

The class has three teams that will make a landscape design for assigned areas near Stauffer Spring House at Homestead Village. As class concepts are presented, each team will apply that to their site-plan. The plans will be shared near the end of the training. 

Why do our grounds crew like their jobs here at Homestead? 

“I like working outside.” “I like making things look good.” “I like taking care of things.” “I like making the people who live and work here happy.” “I don’t have to sit still all day.” “I like thinking about making things more natural.” “I like talking with the residents and seeing that they appreciate what we do.” 

What do they think of this conservation approach? 

“I like helping wildlife.” “It gives me another way to think about what we do.” “I like the idea of planning and creating something.”    

The Environmental Action Resources Committee is grateful for Linda Ferich’s persistence in bringing this vision to reality, for Elyse Jurgen’s dedicated teaching, for Clean Water Partnership’s funding, and for Homestead Administration’s support and encouragement of these exciting endeavors! 

 – Sandy Grotberg, member of EAR, PA Master Naturalist





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