MAKING IVY HILL GREENER
The Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center is in the middle of a new project to make the facility more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is called “Making Ivy Hill Greener.” In December 2016, Ivy Hill started a recycling program, manure composting and rainwater collection. In the future, Ivy Hill has plans to construct a Horticultural Therapy Garden using raised beds for Square Foot Gardening, which will provide easy access for the handicapped and another way to utilize the composted manure and collected rainwater. This therapeutic garden will complement the thriving equine assisted therapy program.
At Ivy Hill, our clients and horses are our top priority, and thus we want to develop an environmentally friendly facility. We have found three ways to help us achieve our goal of creating a positive environmental impact. This three- pronged approach includes manure management, water conservation and environmental education.
In addition to using a manure pickup service, Ivy Hill started composting our equine partners’ droppings. Active Composting Manure has many benefits–fewer green-house gases are released from manure; it is more cost-effective than manure pickup, finished compost can be spread on Ivy Hill facility gardens and pastures and extra compost can be sold to landscaping companies to fundraise for current programs/horse care.
Currently, Ivy Hill uses an onsite well for all water needs. Wells can “dry-up” meaning that a new well must be dug deeper or in another area to reach more groundwater. This process is very expensive, so to reduce our dependency on the well, we have installed a rain water collection system. This new addition will allow us to water the indoor riding arena weekly, as well as the extensive landscaping. It should be noted that water used for bathrooms and drinking water will continue to be sourced from the well.
Environmental education opportunities will flourish in a rich, hands on program at Ivy Hill. The water from the collection tank and finished compost will be used for an on-site vegetable and flower garden. Some of the many benefits of involving clients in the care of a vegetable/flower garden at the facility include fostering teamwork and leadership skills by working together to take care of a common garden, cultivating an appreciation for nature and living things and practicing fine and gross motor skills through watering, weeding and pruning.
Those working on “Making Ivy Hill Greener” project include Chris Brockett, Grace Emmell Leister, Marissa Cubbage and Brad Walters and his family, who own Green Works Farm, as well as the Master Gardeners of Montgomery County. A junior at Juniata College studying Environmental Science and a summer intern at Ivy Hill, Marissa Cubbage is very involved in this project. She says, “Like any facility of its size, Ivy Hill has an environmental impact. Manure and rainwater management are complicated issues that need site-specific attention. I am so glad to be a part of tackling this issue at an equestrian center where so many lives are positively affected.”
Board of Directors member Grace Emmell Leister has always been interested in the environment. She hopes that this will help to make Ivy Hill more sustainable through the cost savings associated with manure removal and the rain water collection to conserve that natural resource. Emmell Leister, an educator for over 30 years, loves to help today’s young people build their resumes. This project provides Marrisa Cubbage with actual school-to-work experience at the same time “Making Ivy Hill Greener.”
President and CEO Chris Brockett explained ” you broadly interpret our mission at Ivy Hill, we work to make life better while helping people with their challenges.This project continues our mission in some new and exciting ways.”
Volunteers and donors can help with our project in the following ways:
- Donate materials for composting system or garden
- Water and weed garden
- Sell or purchase garden produce
- Bag or purchase finished compost
- Check and record daily temperature of active compost
If you have questions or would like to help with this project, please contact Grace Emmell Leister at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marissa Cubbage at email@example.com.