Volunteers planted 80 trees at Castlewood Park Saturday, hoping that in a few years their efforts will produce a less-marshy landscape, more shade and food for the community.
“In a few years, we’re going to have pears, and we’re going to have cherries, and we’re going to have shade,” said Anna Meeker, who lives nearby on Eddie Street and brings her 2-year-old granddaughter to the park several times a week.
She said she decided to help Saturday because “anything you can do for the neighborhood is great, because you have to live there.”
The tree-planting was part of an effort to improve stormwater drainage while beautifying the park, providing fruit and engaging the community.
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Grant Phelps, president and CEO of the North Limestone Community Development Corporation, said the organization received two Stormwater Quality Projects Incentive Grants totaling about $150,000 from the city for the project.
“All the water would settle and stagnate here” at one end of the park, Phelps said, so culverts and drains have been rebuilt and a rain garden area was installed.
On Saturday, some of the trees were planted in the rain garden to help soak up water, said Russ Turpin, environmental specialist for EcoGro, who has helped lead the project.
“It’s a place that water can slow down, soak into the soil,” Turpin said. “We’re trying to slow down the runoff that leaves the park and put it to better use.”
Nearby neighbors had complained about runoff standing in their yards.
A second area, the “edible orchard,” was planted on higher ground with Asian pears, persimmons, cherries and native Kentucky serviceberries.
Seedleaf director Ryan Koch said his organization helped with planting the 20 fruit-bearing trees because he lives in the neighborhood, and the work aligns with Seedleaf’s mission of “nourishing communities by growing and sharing food.”
A third area, being called “the savannah,” is being planted with trees and grasses native to Kentucky.
The Castlewood, North Limestone and Martin Luther King neighborhood associations provided volunteers and other help with the project.
NoLi CDC, which was formed in 2013, is focused on retaining the culture and history of the north end of Lexington and helping ensure that “the folks that are in those neighborhoods be able to stay in those neighborhoods,” Phelps said.
In addition to the Castlewood Park project, NoLi is has built affordable housing built on York Street and is working to develop the old Greyhound terminal on Loudon Avenue into a common market and food hub.
Saunda Coleman, who lives nearby on Churchill Drive, came out to help plant trees Saturday.
She remembered with fondness an old bur oak that had to be cut down. Its stump has been kept as a play feature, and other parts were ground up as mulch for the rain garden, Turpin said.
“To replenish it and put some more new ones in is a big thrill,” Coleman said.