In June 2022, Everence joined the growing trend of repurposing unused property space by planting native trees, shrubs and grasses on three areas of its corporate headquarters property in Goshen, Indiana. About 170 trees, including hickory, redbud, oak, black gum, sugar maple, tulip poplar and dogwood were planted in partnership with Mennonite Men and the City of Goshen.
"Everence has been committed to sound environmental stewardship for many years," said Chad Horning, Senior Vice President of Everence. This planting project follows efforts toward LEED-certification for headquarters buildings, a focus on recycling and conservation, and native landscaping with an emphasis on rainwater retention.
The project also fits both with the City's goal of doubling Goshen's tree canopy by 2045 and with Mennonite Men's JoinTrees effort to plant one million trees globally by 2030. Everence was initially interested in planting 75 trees but was encouraged to think bigger, resulting in over 200 trees planted and the reversion of lawn spaces to several lovely prairie patches.
The growing trend of repurposing land is often referred to as "bioscaping" or landscaping for both beauty and biodiversity. Congregations and businesses are increasingly interested in converting large areas of grass into beautifying spaces while increasing the diversity of plant and animal life. This transition reduces investments needed to maintain lawn space and creates a more attractive and beneficial space for the community.
To date, 16 congregations and over 26 businesses and other nonprofits have worked with Mennonite Men's JoinTrees project, which has assisted with or approved grants for the planting of over 300,000 trees worldwide. By increasing tree and forest cover, the JoinTrees campaign intends to mitigate global warming, restore resilient ecosystems, preserve threatened biodiversity and support vulnerable communities.
"With its comprehensive planting of native trees, shrubs and prairie plants, Everence models how to better care for God's good Earth with more climate-friendly bioscaping than conventional landscape practices," said Steve Thomas, Director of Mennonite Men and certified arborist.
Anabaptist individuals, congregations, and businesses interested in exploring bioscaping and contributing to or receiving grants for tree-planting projects can find more information at www.mennonitemen.org/jointrees or by contacting Steve Thomas at SteveT@mennonitemen.org.
Read the full story on Everence's tree-planing project which first appeared in the September 2022 issue of Everyday Stewardship at: www.everence.com/everence-articles/everyday-stewardship/your-stories/2022-summer-caring-for-gods-creation and in Everence's news release at https://www.everence.com/everence-articles/everence-corporate/everence-news/2022-tree-planting.