“Our job is to raise the funds to design, construct and maintain it. And once it is built, all of those features that we had raised the funds for would then become the property of the city of Charlottesville, and they will have to maintain it,” Trischman-Marks said.
The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont started stewarding the area and working on the beginnings of a garden in 2019. The initial work was more about cleaning and clearing than gardening.
“The first thing we had to do was get the garbage out, and there were mattresses and tires and things, of course we’re still finding garbage here. We had to hire a forestry mulcher because it was so dense, but once we got in there and started clearing out, we then started creating trails,” Trischman-Marks said.
The group also removed invasive plants that disrupted the natural habitat. As the project grows, the organization will plant native plant species as well as plants that are known to adapt well to the local environment. That, in turn will bring more animals native to the environment.
“When we first started stewarding the site, we had a PhD candidate in herpetology come and investigate the streams, looking for reptiles and amphibians, and all they found was one dead box turtle. So for us to be able to see [live] box turtles now is a huge deal. Plus we now know we have a variety of different frogs. So by removing all of these invasive plants, we’ve given native plants an opportunity to survive and thrive, and then we’re seeing through the food chain that now the site is healing itself,” Trischman-Marks said.