Piedmont Arts held a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 16 to celebrate the start of construction on its Project Hope Pollinator Trail.
C.D. Prillaman, of Prillaman Landscaping Dimensions, broke ground at the site of a new pollinator garden trail. Funded by The Harvest Foundation’s Project Hope, a grant designed to fund projects that inspire hope in the community.
Lauren Ellis, Programs and Public Relations Coordinator, said the foundation “wanted to create a funding opportunity for projects that would spark hope in the community.”
Ellis said projects considered for grant funds had to be for and accessible by the community in a way that would either “spark imagination, motivation, or something that would let them be a part of this thing.”
Piedmont Arts dedicated a section of unused land to the cultivation of an ADA-compliant, accessible path that will be flanked by beds of native and non-invasive pollinator plants. In addition, there will be a small section of raised beds for an Adopt-A-Bed program that will encourage community ownership and education. The pathway will span from the parking lot of Piedmont Arts to the Gravely-Lester Art Garden. Future plans for the trail will see it expand across Mulberry Road and connect to the Silverbell Trail, an offshoot of the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail. There will be numerous opportunities for volunteers and artists.
The community-based pollinator garden will include “beds of native and noninvasive plant species that will attract local pollinators,” Ellis said. “It will cultivate pollinator plants for local pollinators. It’s going to just be an opportunity for education and cultivation and it’s kind of like a beautification project.”
Ellis added the plant beds could also potentially become part of an adopt event program.
“There’s a potential opportunity for folks to come in and really get their hands dirty and help with the actual preservation of the garden,” she said.
Piedmont Arts hopes to have the 1,500-foot project completed by June.
While the pollinator trial is the first phase of the project, Ellis said the goal is to look for more funding to extend the trail across the street, and “involve the First Baptist Church, the VMNH (Virginia Museum of Natural History), the YMCA, and One Starling.”
That would result in “a separate little section of this pollinator trail, and then connect the whole thing to the Silver Bell Trail, an offshoot of the Dick & Willie Trail,” she said.
While Project Hope is for the community, Ellis believes employees at Piedmont Arts are finding that it’s sparking a lot of hope in themselves.
“It’s something that we are all extremely excited about,” she said. “We’re excited about the possibilities of what it can do for us and the community.”
Volunteer days will get underway once the infrastructure of the trail is complete. These might include tilling, planting, and plant bed construction. There will also be opportunities for artists to create signage and other work for the trail. Community members who would like to be involved may e-mail Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.