The Homestead Village Environmental Action Resources committee (EAR) is a group of residents passionate about the environment and making a difference in the community. They recently received a grant as part of a Senior Living Sustainable Campuses Initiative sponsored by the Kentfields Foundation and carried out by Land Studies of Lititz. The initiative will assist Homestead Village with a long-term planning tool to “develop more diverse wildlife habitat, reduce long term maintenance and reduce storm water runoff, and provide support & education for each communities’ administrative staff, maintenance staff, and resident groups.”
Last month, the EAR committee received the final Green Master Plan for Homestead Village and can now determine how to move ahead with any of the ideas presented, including applying for grants to help finance our projects.
The committee has also sponsored activities such as a talk from a Penn State Extension Master Gardener to share information about how heathy soil and native plants are both essential to obtain biodiversity, and a visit to nearby Homefields to learn about cultivating sustainable landscapes.
On a cold misty May afternoon, eleven Homestead Village residents carpooled to Homefields and met with Andrew Phillips, Farm Manager and sustainable farming and water run off guru, and Carol Walsh, plant journalist and Homefields volunteer. A campfire kept residents warm as Andrew showed residents planting areas of the farm and spoke about organic farming practices. Then all walked to a greenhouse where soil and native plant plugs waited to be planted by the residents in prepared gallon jug containers. “It was fun to select from an assortment of butterfly weed, blue grass, hibiscus, purple corn flower, coreopsis and yarrow” one participant recalled.
Andrew gave residents a tour of an area that historically flooded continuously and is no longer a problem since bushes, trees, and native flowers were planted in the area. He demonstrated how to prevent weeds from coming up by using cardboard and mulch which he gets free from local arborists.
Carol shared information about events happening in Homefields and encouraged residents to observe plants, birds, butterflies, etc. closely and document what we see using a plant journal. The residents in attendance practiced by drawing a plant or bird on a post card.
After the Homefields trip, The EAR Committee was inspired to share their new knowledge of native plants with the rest of the Homestead Village Campus, so they enlisted Homestead’s “Soil for the Soul” gardening club to assist with a native plant container gardening event.
Residents are hoping that their efforts will be selected to be part of the Homegrown National Park, a grassroots call-to-action to regenerate biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants, creating new ecological networks, and removing most invasive plants. The goal is to extend the conservation and restorative functions of our national parks to our yards and communities.
As Doug Tallamy from the University of Delaware has indicated, “In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens [and lawns]: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.”
The Homestead Village EAR committee is excited by the prospect of small actions by many people to improve the sustainability of our community.
Article written by Marti Pawlikowski, and Les Helmeczi
Of the Homestead Village EAR Committee