By Judy Tacyn
Woods Church welcomed community members and friends to its campus on September 12 to showcase the church grounds, which have recently been transformed into a habitat that is respectful of the earth, pollinators and people. The event lasted almost four years.
“The little church on the hill”, built in 1912, is no longer small and its hill is eroding. Now known as the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, it has a four-acre campus that is huge with many buildings and extensive parking lots. Sitting atop a property near the intersections of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and McKinsey and Cypress Creek roads, the church has experienced growth that has impacted not only the wooded areas of its campus, but the river as well. Magothy, as thousands of gallons of rooftop and parking lot runoff quickly finds its way to Cypress Creek after every rainy or snowy event.
Partnering with Maryland Green Groups, the Property Management Department’s Woods Church Gardening Group had several goals when planning the improvements:
- Redirect runoff water to wooded areas on campus.
- Replace lawns with native plants to reduce lawn maintenance expenses, including the use of chemical fertilizers, and save 5,000 gallons of water used for irrigation.
- Replace invasive plants, shrubs, and trees with native plants to create a barrier to slow runoff. Create year-round habitat for bees, birds and small creatures.
- Reconfigure the slopes of the landscape to mitigate erosion around sidewalks and other man-made surfaces.
The fruits of the year’s labor were evident in September with widespread butterflies and bees flying happily, and the plants that bloomed in the summer begin to show their ripening berries to the delight of the many species of birds. who came to nibble.
The project was supported by many volunteers, including teenagers from Woods Scouting and youth groups. The native plants have been tagged so that visitors can take note of them and know which plants to add to their own properties.
Grants were provided by the Unity Gardens organization, Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Tree Trooper program. Volunteers from the religious community, Bay-Wise (University of Maryland), Maryland master gardeners, high school environmental and honor society clubs, retirees and others have helped.
As stewards of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Woods and other religious congregations in Anne Arundel County come together to care for the watersheds shared through the One Water Partnership. Cool Congregations (www.coolcongregations2021.org) presented Woods with its Sacred Grounds Award for campus restoration.
Woods members Karen and Bob Royer are co-project leaders. Members of the community are invited to come and walk on the Woods grounds.