JPIC Initiatives, Volunteers, Enhance Provincial House Property
November 26, 2013
Even before the 2010 General Chapter affirmed its importance, the Covington Provincial House was taking steps to care for the environment. In 2008, native grasses and prairie flowers were planted on the northeast end of the property. This action reduced the frequency of mowing the five-acre plot from every two weeks in the growing season to twice a year, significantly lowering air and noise pollution and the use of fossil fuel.
Later, as part of the province response to the General Chapter theme of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, several sisters gathered to form a Learning Community on the use of the St. Joseph Heights grounds. The group decided to develop a nature trail with an educational focus. Requests for funding won grants of $500 from the Kenton County Conservation District and $100 from the local chapter of the Sierra Club plus a personal check of $100 from the club secretary. These funds have provided a variety of learning resources and hands-on materials for elementary school students who visit the trail.
The Provincial House property has also been beautified by three Boy Scouts. These high-school boys fulfilled the requirements for their Eagle Scout status through major projects on our site. One built a gazebo beside the meditation pond. The area has since become a favorite spot to relax, pray, and visit with friends.
A second Boy Scout completed the surfaces of the educational trail, built three outdoor study areas, and erected seventeen tree identification posts. At this writing a third teen is developing a bird blind and nearby bird feeders to complement the educational features of the trail area.
The Notre Dame Arboretum Committee is planning further enhancement of the property. In recent years many trees have been lost due to wind and ice damage, drought, and disease. The addition of seedlings, saplings, and more mature trees will not only replace losses but will add to the beauty of the environment and help to stabilize the soil on hillsides. The committee has established a tree nursery to protect saplings and expects to add 25-50 new trees annually.
NDA science students, under the direction of their teacher, an Arboretum Committee member, have begun a tree identification project. The goal is to identify all of the healthy trees on the two properties. More than 90 trees of at least 20 different species have already been labeled. A future goal is to create tree tags and a “tree map” of the entire campus.
The Arboretum Committee includes faculty and staff from Notre Dame Academy–which is on property adjacent to St. Joseph Heights, and representatives of the Provincial House, as well as a registered landscape architect and the director of the botanical gardens at the Cincinnati Zoo.