Gifts To Our Community: Louisville Grows
Louisville Grows is looking to expand the tree canopy to healthy levels by planting 1000 trees each year.
Making Louisville Green
While planting 1,000 trees each year in south and west Jefferson County sounds like a lot of work (and is), it is just a drop in the bucket of what Louisville needs for its tree canopy and community to be healthy. According to Lisa Dettlinger, program director at Louisville Grows, Louisville loses around 50,000 trees from its canopy each year, which means there is a constant need to replace and restore what has been lost. “You want a tree canopy of about 40-50 percent. Most of the neighborhoods we work in, the tree canopy on the average is 16-19 percent,” Lisa says.
Louisville Grows is a unique nonprofit in that it plants trees in residential areas to make an immediate impact on the lives of people who live at the residence. A canopy really makes a difference in terms of energy costs since a shaded house is a cooler house in the heat of summer. Trees on residential lots filter the air of pollutants and slow down water going into storm drains.
“…WE ARE TRYING OUR BEST TO RESTORE THE URBAN TREE CANOPY TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIVES…”
The trees that Louisville Grows plants are native species that can weigh between 50-250 pounds; they are not dinky little saplings. “When you are planting trees the size we do, to buy a tree at the nursery and have it planted, we’re talking on average $500. When you are living at the poverty level in an underserved neighborhood, you’re not ever going to think about putting that into a tree,” she says. “That is our gift to the community; we are trying our best to restore the urban tree canopy to improve the quality of lives for these residents.”
In addition to trees, Louisville Grows also helps develop community gardens. Its urban agriculture program sells seeds and plant starts each year to local gardeners as a fundraiser, with the money being used for community garden project grants. Despite 2020 impacting the number of volunteers who could help get seeds and starts ready, Lisa and her colleagues sold 27,000 plants through a curbside service. “We had our largest sale ever this year and made over $32,000,” she says.