IOWA CITY — Rockwell Collins plans to award $82,000 in Green Communities grants in 2018, with 29 of 50 funded projects located in Eastern Iowa.
One of those projects is the Edible Forest at Wetherby Park in Iowa City. Backyard Abundance, an Iowa City nonprofit, will receive $1,100 this spring from Rockwell to oversee and improve the Edible Forest, said Backyard Abundance co-director, Fred Meyer.
“We want to purchase more plants, hold more events, get some steppingstones for paths and buy gloves for volunteers,” Meyer said.
The Edible Forest, just west of the playground and splashpad at Wetherby Park, is a quiet space modeled after a forest with trees providing partial shade for currant and gooseberry bushes, Meyer said. Lower to the ground are stout bunches of rhubarb, wild strawberries and herbs, including oregano and thyme.
The forest uses no chemical fertilizers and visitors are invited to harvest crops at their convenience. Because of the late spring, the only plants ready to harvest now are French sorrel and rhubarb, Meyer said. But small white flowers among the leaves indicate wild strawberries may be available soon.
Visitors are invited to pull weeds, but some people don’t know how to distinguish weeds from plants, Meyer said. Backyard Abundance plans to offer some classes on weed recognition this summer.
In an April 19 news release, Rockwell Collins described the goal of the Edible Forest as “teaching disadvantaged citizens to grow and harvest environmentally-beneficial gardens.” This is because the forest is located near some economically-challenged neighborhoods without quick access to grocery stores, Meyer said.
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Rockwell has given out more than $1 million in Green Communities grants since 2004, the company said. To get funding, grants must involve participation by Rockwell employees or retirees, have tangible environmental benefits and be sustainable.
Other 2018 Eastern Iowa grant recipients:
Alburnett Community School District Foundation — Alburnett Community School’s Sustainable Green Space
Anamosa Parks and Recreation Department — Anamosa Arboretum
Benton County Conservation — Increased energy conservation, air quality, and water quality via replacement of ash trees
Bur Oak Land Trust — Habitat restoration for the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee, monarch butterflies and other native pollinators
City of Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Department — Ellis Park Pollinator Prairie Establishment
City of Marion — Lowe Park biophilic enhancement
Delaware County Historical Society — Delaware County Historical Society Renewable Energy Project
Hawkeye Area Council, Boy Scouts of America — Monarch protection and habitat restoration by Boy Scouts at the Howard H. Cherry Scout Reservation
Horizons A Family Service Alliance — Irrigation repair for raised gardens
Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — Project AWARE, a watershed awareness river expedition
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Jones County Historical Society — Edinburgh Pioneer Village Preservation and Environmental Benefit Project
Linn Area Mountain Bike Association — Sac and Fox Trail pollinator habitat access
Matthew 25 Ministry Hub — Urban Farm Stormwater Retention Plan
NewBo City Market — Composting and recycling awareness and education
Olivet Neighborhood Mission — Community Gardens
Nature Conservancy in Iowa — Restoring a wetland in Thomas Park for reduced flood risk and improved water quality
Salvation Army — Community garden
Trees Forever, Inc. — Trees Forever TreeKeepers
YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area — YMCA Camp Wapsie Composting Program
Iowa DNR Maquoketa Wildlife Unit — Prescribed Fire Program enhancement
Marquette Catholic Schools — Marquette Elementary School lighting
City of Iowa City — Monarch rearing tent to increase monarch populations and community engagement
Iowa DNR — Lake Macbride Beach to Dam Trail repairs
Regina Catholic Education Center — Recycling improvement project
City of Mabel — Mabel Steam Engine Grounds canopy lighting
City of Decorah — Community tree planting for new dog park
Decorah Community School District — Dry Run Creek outdoor classroom
Winneshiek County Conservation Board — Pollinator trees at Rockwell Collins and Winneshiek County parklands
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