The Richness of the Land

A description of the Ecological Land Ministry at the UU Church of Bowling Green, KY

as of May 16, 2014

Greetings, all, and best wishes for a glorious late spring. Things have been blooming everywhere you look in Bowling Green, nowhere more than on the land surrounding our beloved church.

As many of you may know, about 1/3 of the field between the new building and Nashville Rd. has been sown with clover, buckwheat, and sunflowers. The first of our hugelkultur beds is producing salad greens, garlic and shallot shoots in abundance, so much that we've been enjoying delicious salads from their production the past several weeks at Sunday coffee and fellowship hour; soon tomatoes will appear, brightening both the mound and our salads.

And now there is a second hugelkultur bed (hugel). Though it looks bare, it has been planted with potatoes; green tops should be showing soon. The branches that you see tied together and standing upright are anchors for sweet peas to climb. (Hugelkultur, for those who have not heard, is a method of planting that allows for a resilient and productive life system to be established. The raised garden bed is built on a bed of rotting wood, which acts as a very rich compost. It becomes like a sponge as it decomposes, able to capture water and store it for later use by the plants growing on the bed. The decomposing wood gives off heat and the foundation for a productive ecosystem is established.) Annuals and perennials can now reestablish themselves. Fruiting shrubs or even trees can be planted at the endpoints.

And many have remarked on how beautiful the berm is looking, red clover everywhere which may soon be overtaken by sweet peas. For a good while, it was nearly bald and beginning to erode. Now, it is beginning to be covered thoroughly with nitrogen- and phosphorus-fixing plants. As they decompose, the green manure will serve to build a rich soil community. Worms and micro-organisms will be encouraged as each successive ground cover dies off.

Our land is becoming richer with a more diverse ecosystem. As this system becomes established, it will allow us to think even more creatively about the most responsible way to use our land and care for our property. More information on this next month.

This article, which originally appeared in the May 16, 2014, pdf Newsletter of the Church, was assembled with input from Tim Kercheville, Judy Tabor and Peter Connolly. The article was accompanied by photos.