Saint Mary Anne's green team is a group of volunteers committed to environmental conservation and sustainability.
Their green team is a part of the larger community of Saint Mary Anne's Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1706 and is located on tidal grounds on Northeast Creek on the Eastern Shore. Since attending IPC's Faithful Green Leaders Training in 2020, the team has taken on several projects to promote environmental sustainability and conservation, including tree planting, wildlife conservation, waste reduction, and rainwater harvesting through a rain barrel.
I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with the members of their green team about their story after they were given The PLANT Award by The Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee of the Maryland Forestry Boards in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This award was in recognition of their stewardship efforts in relation to their many efforts to plant and care for trees on their property.
However, getting trees in the ground has not been an easy feat. Just like many land-owning organizations, their vestry was concerned about the damage that additional trees could cause on their church property during one of the large storms we have been seeing more recently. The team, not giving up hope, discovered that there is a state law that requires any tree that comes down in a Chesapeake Bay Critical Area to be replaced — so their team got to work. They went on to collaborate with Doug Tallamy (renown professor, ecologist, and conservationist) to determine what trees to plant and sent a request to their vestry to plant ten trees. They were only approved for four in this initial planting, but it was a step in their Creation Care journey!
In addition to tree planting, the green team has made strides in supporting local wildlife and pollinators. By installing two bat houses and nurturing a flourishing pollinator garden, they have created vital habitats for these essential species. A rain barrel was specifically installed next to the pollinator garden, which is used as a source of water during dry spells. The team put their heads together and created explanatory signs at the pollinator garden and bat houses to educate their members and wider community on their efforts.
They also make a conscious effort to enhance the ecological diversity of their grounds by working with their maintenance team to introduce native species and remove invasives on a seasonal basis. Saint Mary Anne's church yard is even National Wildlife Certified, and they worked with the church youth group to go through the checklist to make this happen and keep the certification active. Their efforts have not only been towards the environment but also towards the community. Collaborating with experts, they expanded their garden and shared their knowledge with the community through an educational booth at a local garden market. During their Arbor Day celebrations, the green team's benevolence knew no bounds, as they generously gave away approximately 30 trees at their long-standing Garden Market to eager members of the community. In 2021, their green team convinced their vestry to replace all of the fluorescent lights in their perish with LED bulbs, totaling in over 100 — what a win!
The path to environmental conservation is not always smooth to start, but this green team remained steadfast in their mission. One of their largest advocates was green team member, Julie Waterhouse, who went to be with her Creator this past May. Julie's unwavering commitment to Creation Care was truly inspiring, and her legacy will continue to grow as Saint Mary Anne's plants a tree in her honor.
“Julie fought our fight for the trees and did a ton of work, we couldn't have done it without her – she was our driving force with trees”
~ Linda Hunt, fellow green team member
With foresight and consideration for future generations, the team has identified two ideal spots for planting even more trees and continuing to expand their projects. In their green team's continued effort to care for Creation, they intend to create a legacy, allowing their grandchildren and their grandchildren's grandchildren to enjoy the fruits of their labor for years to come.
Saint Mary Anne's green team exemplifies the potential of a united community driven by a shared commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability.
To learn more about IPC's upcoming Faithful Green Leaders program go to our website here.
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