Sustainable Grounds Project
In 2012-2013, the Building and Grounds Committee arranged for replacement of the existing drip irrigation system, resulting in visibly healthier, more vibrant plant growth this spring. New plants and additional mulch were added during the regular fall and spring planting days in October and April and the “New Roots Planting Day” for new members in February. Children in the RE program added some colorful annuals to the grounds in early May; each child marking his plant with his name.
When the Social Action Team conducted a survey (in spring of 2008) on green practices, 94% of respondents indicated support for landscaping Fellowship grounds with native and drought tolerant plants. Initial funding for the project came from an endowment fund that was to be used for a Social Action purpose. Purposes of the Sustainable Grounds Project were to:
- Build awareness within UUFLG of the environmental impact of landscaping choices and generate commitment to sustainable practices in our Fellowship grounds and in our own yards.
- Provide education to UUFLG members and the community at large on sustainable landscaping: what it means, what are the benefits, how to prepare soil, how to select and install plants, how to maintain.
- Build a connection between spiritual practice and environmental action. What we do with the grounds entrusted to us is an active statement of our connection to the web of all being.
- Improve the appearance of UUFLG grounds while reducing our environmental footprint. Our church grounds are the most visible statement to visitors and passersby of our commitment to healing the earth's natural systems.
- Provide an example to UUFLG members and the community as a whole. A long-range goal is to become a stop on the local annual Native Gardens tour, continuing the educational aspects of the project and at the same time increasing the visibility of the Fellowship and of Unitarian Universalism.
The Sustainable Grounds Project is a multi-year project which started in the fall of 2009. Success is defined as 50% of our plantings being native with most of the rest either edible or drought-tolerant. Some existing plantings were kept due to their significance to members of our community, for example the roses in our memorial rose garden. All plants installed in the preschool area will be non-toxic, and preference will be given to non-toxic plants throughout the grounds. First priority is given to areas of greatest visibility.
Guiding Principles of a Sustainable Garden
- A healthy garden starts with healthy soil. A well composted soil encourages beneficial soil organisms, while at the same time discouraging harmful pests and disease. Investment in healthy soil pays off in thriving plants. Chemical insecticides and fertilizers undermine the health of soil.
- Responsible use of water in our drought prone area dictates use of native and drought tolerant plants, well maintained drip irrigation, and adequate mulching.
- Gardens with greater diversity of plant types provide habitat for a wide variety of insects, including the beneficial insects that will naturally take care of “bad” insects without the use of chemical insecticides.
Want to learn more about gardening with native plants? Visit these websites:
- Middlebrook Gardens Plant Nursery, on Race Street in San José, specializes in native plants. Check out the photo gallery at this site.
- California Native Plant Society is a great source of information on California native plants. Watch their calendar for interesting talks and for plant sales.
- Growing Native site offers a series of articles about gardening with natives. Of particular interest is one titled ”Why Grow Native California Plants?”
- Common Ground Organic Garden Supply and Education Center in Palo Alto offers supplies, plants and information on organic gardening. They offer great classes and often have native plants and seeds for sale.
- Yerba Buena Nursery, now in Half Moon Bay, sells over 600 varieties of plants native to California. Their website offers a long list of Garden Guides full of information and design ideas.
Address: 15980 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032
Phone: (408) 358-1212