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| Spring/Summer 2009
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Caring for creation comes naturally at Messiah
A sampling of Messiah’s conservation
efforts includes an on-campus garden
and development of alternative energy
including solar and biodiesel. In addition
to these ongoing projects and a 30-year
campus-wide commitment to recycling,
Rain gardens provide ecologically
and visually pleasing solution
Traditionally, stormwater flowing along the streets of a residential subdivision has been collected and held in a detention basin, so as not to overwhelm nearby streams and creeks with excessive and possibly contaminated runoff. These earthen berm and concrete detention basins, while functional, can be an eyesore and the standing water sometimes creates a breeding ground for buggy pests. Rain gardens, when properly designed and maintained, are a visually delightful and ecologically-sound alternative with root and soil systems which treat many contaminants found in residential runoff and permit the clean water to percolate naturally through to nearby waterways.
The developers of the Cottage Brook Lane project, Jim and Joy MacDonald, are Messiah College alumni and had talked with Foster about the possibility of this project during the design phase in 2007. The project engineer, Fischbach Morgan & Associates, LLC and, later, J.W. Gleim Excavating, was involved in the project to create site grading that would deliver the stormwater to the area designated for the three rain gardens. In addition to the need for selecting plants that could bioremediate runoff water and tolerate a broad set of soil moisture conditions, the developers also desired to improve site views by obscuring infrastructure and walls and providing a spread of texture and flower colors across the various seasons of the year. An additional objective was to plant primarily native species of plant that would spread vigorously within the rain garden area.
Last spring, students enrolled in Plant Ecology worked together with Foster to create the planting design and select the plants for the principal rain garden, which covers approximately 275 square meters. The grouping of plants was selected to give the appearance of a naturalized wetland.Once the plants were selected, students in the Ecological Field Techniques class worked with Foster and Black Landscape Contracting to locate and plant the rain gardens. Evaluation and ongoing maintenance of this multi-faceted project will be undertaken by future students in the College’s Plant Propagation course.
The beautiful flowers that bloom at Cottage Brook Lane each season are a visual reminder of the cooperation of the participants; the students, community, township, environment, and clients all continue to benefit. Foster, summing up the positive nature of this effort, says, “This project is a model of service learning for students in technically demanding areas. It combines professional knowledge, skills, and community service with real projects. It benefits the community and builds community and expertise at the same time.”
Grant supports development
of biodiesel technology
Biodiesel fuel is appealing as an alternate energy source because it’s non-toxic, renewable, and utilizes an organic product that was previously disposed of as waste.
More information about the biodiesel project.
Solar structures generate energy
locally and abroad
For years, the Collaboratory has been designing, constructing, and implementing solar structures in Burkina Faso where the generated solar electricity is helping run medical equipment at a maternity clinic and powering a pump to provide clean drinking water at various locations throughout the underdeveloped country.
More information about the College’s solar projects.
On-campus community garden
demonstrates sustainable agriculture
This organic garden is a model of
community supported agriculture (CSA).
The practice with CSAs is that community
members, or “share holders,” purchase a
portion of the garden, helping to offset any
expenses, and then receive produce as it is
harvested. For example, the College’s dining
Now students have also begun to operate a compost system that collects organic waste from dining services and combines it with waste materials currently being composted by Facility Services. The resulting compost will be used to provide nutritious soil for the garden’s next planting season.
More information about the community garden.