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Sacred Green Spaces: Taking a Look at Your Property in a Whole New Way!

Outdoor Greening Resources

What if you could share with your community your caring actions for creation and become a leader for sustainability in your neighbourhood? What if you could take simple steps to change your outdoor property maintenance or landscape design so as to reflect your place of worship’s desires for stronger social cohesion, resilient city making, or local ecological protection? What if your congregants could create an outdoor space that would delight all ages and provide much needed habitat for butterflies, birds, and other urban wildlife species?

Faith communities of various sizes have the opportunity to look at their property in a different way. Faith & the Common Good has created new resources to inspire you and your fellow congregants to consider different aspects of your property and gardens and see what types of changes or improvements could be made to support an outdoor Care for Creation project. These projects can be simple and/or small depending on the size of a congregation and the interest of the volunteers. Or a project could be larger and make a bigger impact if the will, resources, and hands are there.

Many Canadian and U.S. cities are looking at their green infrastructure assets in a more holistic way. They see the economic value of the function of native plants and trees, wetland areas, and green spaces that provide clean air, clean water, and many other benefits for urban areas. Green spaces — including public parks, natural and intentionally-designed waterways, and even institutional spaces like campuses, business parks, and memorial gardens — are being reconsidered and re-envisioned. Places of worship can do the same with their own spaces. Faith communities are key community gathering places and many are prominently found on main streets and in central locations. Some places of worship offer their spaces for community events such as outdoor courtyard musical concerts or have open door policies for their prayer gardens or labyrinth spaces. Others have offered their properties for neighbourhood projects such as community gardens, where people can rent plots or grow vegetables for their local food cupboard. With these key positions in a neighbourhood, faith communities can become stewardship leaders in their own communities, inspiring others to consider their impact on the environment also.

The new Faith & the Common Good Outdoor Greening FREE resources include both Case Studies and Fact Sheets to inspire these new sustainable and ecological outdoor greening sacred space projects. The Case Studies highlight landscape and garden projects from 12 different faith communities working on a variety of initiatives including community gardens, prayer and meditation gardens (including a labyrinth garden), medicine gardens, and pollinator gardens. The Fact Sheets cover topics such as sustainable lawns, native trees and shrubs, wildlife-friendly gardens, water conservation, and special purpose gardens. There is also an Outdoor Greening Primer to help you start your new gardening project, covering topics such as congregational goals, location for garden bed, key considerations, planting day, weeding, watering, and fall maintenance.

Centretown Garden Crew
Centretown Garden Crew – fall clean-up 2016

These resources provide congregations an opportunity to revisit their typical landcaping practices, including mowing lawns, opportunities for composting, purchasing annuals, considering native plants, and even the collection of storm water. There are many small and larger changes that can be made to make a positive impact on the neighbourhood and ecosystem around your place of worship.

Ottawa also was the pilot city for a new opportunity of Sustainable Garden Audits and it was incredible to see the interest and visit those communities that wanted to re-envision their spaces and who were interested in learning about a more sustainable approach. We received some positive feedback at the end of this pilot season and also some great ideas on how to improve it for the upcoming year!

Tucker House
Katherine and Nathalie in the garden at Tucker House

The Outdoor Greening resources — the 10 Case Studies and 10 Fact Sheets and Gardening Primer — can all be found in the Outdoor Greening section of the Greening Sacred Spaces programs on the Faith & Common Good website for FREE download. Note that you must be logged in to download the resources. You can download individual copies (if you want to review or print out just one or two of the fact sheets or case studies) or you can download all 10 Case Studies or all 10 Fact Sheets as a pdf booklet.  And if you are interested in a Sustainable Outdoor Greening Audit, please contact Katherine Forster (kforster@faithcommongood.org) to be added to a wait list for our next season of sustainable garden consultations!  

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