On May 30, volunteers and congregation members gathered at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Cambridge to plant 440 native flowers and grasses in a bioswale on their property. A bioswale is a drainage ditch filled with native plants that slow, collect, and filter pollution from rainwater before it enters local rivers. St. Luke planted its bioswale through Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s Stewards for Streams program. Stewards for Streams is a program that connects faith-based organizations of any denomination with environmental stewardship activities. St. Luke’s congregation members learned about stormwater runoff and the benefits of their bioswale. They were inspired to pursue further projects to “green” their campus, including planting native trees and a rain garden.
Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta noted the importance of the St. Luke project as it is applicable to many residential and business properties that have drainage ditches running through them. “It’s a model for what can be done,” he said. “On the Eastern Shore, many properties have ditches and swales that rush water away from a site as quickly as possible. All of the water ends up in local streams and carries trash, debris, and pollutants picked up along the way. With a simple retrofit—digging out clay soils, adding new soil, and planting native plants—a property can slow and treat water before it enters our streams, and will look great too!”
At the close of the planting, Reverend Jerome Tilghman of St. Luke led a blessing of the plants and volunteers and reminded his congregants of their obligation to take care of the planet they are blessed to be a part of.
Stewards for Streams has also partnered with Waugh Chapel in Cambridge and Grace Lutheran in Easton to install rain gardens. Stewards for Streams not only offers restoration and planting opportunities, but environmental education for youth and adults, faith-environmental workshops, rain barrel installations, and youth day trips on local rivers. Stewards for Streams is funded by a Chesapeake Bay Trust Community Outreach and Restoration Grant. For more information or to involve your congregation, contact Suzanne at Suzanne@midshoreriverkeeper.org or call 443.385.0511.