It was an afternoon of fun, laughter and learning at One Water EcoFest, hosted at Churchville Presbyterian Church, in Churchville MD.

On June 6th, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake invited many of our environmental allies and partners across Harford County, for a celebration of Churchville Presbyterian Church’s recent environmental successes!

Churchville Presbyterian Church is the recent recipient of a $13,400 Chesapeake Bay Trust grant enabling them to design three rain gardens for their property. These rain gardens will treat more than 1,500 square feet of rooftop stormwater coming off the congregation and neighboring Child Care Center. This action alone will tremendously reduce the quantity and velocity of surface runoff escaping Churchville Presbyterian Church, reduce pollutants reaching our waterways, and represents a major milestone in the congregation's green-journey thus far.

There is a great deal to celebrate at Churchville Presbyterian, and we were thrilled to share the lovely day with so many other fantastic environmental allies and partner-groups of our One Water Partnership. Amongst were the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Harford County Climate Action, Harford Land Trust, Harford Bird Club, Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, Interfaith Power and Light, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and representation from the One Water Partnership.

“It was amazing to have so many voices for a clean Bay all in one space. To have so much energy, and encouragement about what the future holds for us all made for a special day!” Said Taylor Swanson, of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake.

Featuring Critter Bingo, decorative light switch reminders, interactive watershed models, and even an appearance from a live Box Turtle; not to mention a Free-Tree-Giveaway with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay! Together we spent the afternoon laughing, sharing stories, and learning from each other how we can best help improve the Bay, our local waterways, and our communities.

“It was wonderful to see so many different local environmental organizations represented at EcoFest. Everyone left with new knowledge gained from the friendly faces at the event!” shared Laura Todd of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Additionally, among the list of celebratory things, Churchville Presbyterian Church has recently installed a significant pollinator garden designed to attract some of our favorite native bees and butterflies. This garden was strategically placed in an area outside of Churchville Presbyterians Child Care Center where generations of young preschool students will be able to learn and enjoy from this productive garden.

Plans for a second garden are underway with a special emphasis on the creation of habitat for Monarch Butterflies, whose complex annual migration traversing the continent is imperiled. In fact, this migration is so complex that it takes some Monarchs 3 generations to return to their original starting point in Northern Mexico. Along their journey Monarch Butterflies rely heavily on the Milkweed plant as the predominate nursery for their young.

Milkweed is just one of the many plants chosen specifically for the pollinator garden. Each plant chosen has a special relationship with a different pollinator!

“It is amazing to see the resiliency of these animals [pollinators], and how quickly they return when we provide them the space and resources they need,” said Fawn Palmer, a member of Churchville Presbyterian Church and a leader among the Church’s ‘Green Team’. “When we work together there is so much we can accomplish!”

This work at Churchville Presbyterian Church has not been completed without help, and has been possible through collaboration with the One Water Partnership, a program of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Its goal is to work on a local level to connect faith institutions with resources and aid congregations in developing environmental programming and restoration projects. 

“It is a true blessing to be able to care and provide for those that call our congregation home!” continued Palmer. “Our actions have only brought us closer to our faith and community.”

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the One Water Partnership program,” added John Paul, another leader among Churchville Presbyterian Church’s rapidly growing Green Team. “We are thrilled with their support, and the outcomes for our congregation!”

The One Water Partnership is currently offering free site assessments to congregations interested in learning more about actions their community can take to improve their impact on the local environment. 

Congregations in certain regions like Harford County are also eligible for $500 mini-grants from the One Water Partnership to support environmental initiatives. Congregations must attend Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s Faithful Green Leaders Training online program offered in February, June, and October of 2021 to qualify.

Check out our websites One Water Partnership and  page for more information about how you can join the movement!

If your congregation is interested in learning more about this opportunity through the One Water Partnership, you can visit www.InterfaithChesapeake.org or contact Taylor Swanson at [email protected]

Taylor Swanson

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Communications and Outreach Coordinator