Thursday, August 26, 2010

Volunteers to Plant Wildlife Habitat at Hominy Valley Elementary School

Hominy Valley Elementary School in Candler is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat thanks to the efforts of Landscape Contractor Steve Ambrose, who will coordinate a team of volunteers in turning little-used, high-maintenance lawn areas on the school grounds into sustainable, water-conserving wildlife habitat and filling in the existing beds. For the school's "Day of Caring" on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010, bankers will don work gloves and plant trees side-by-side with schoolteachers and kids, starting at 9 am.

The annual PTA-sponsored event will be the fourth in a row for which Ambrose, president of Asheville-based Ambrose Landscapes, has donated tools, labor and expertise in "green" landscape design. The sustainable landscaping he's been installing beautifies the school's campus while cutting its overhead expenses for maintenance, water and energy use -- and it provides homes for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife of Western North Carolina that the school's children and teachers can study and enjoy.

"Mowing is loud and wasteful of a school's precious resources of money and manpower," Ambrose observes. "Besides, how much wildlife do you enjoy on a lawn?"

"Our campus is the most beautiful one around," wrote Hominy Valley Principal Dr. Angie Jackson after last year's event. "We constantly receive compliments about how beautiful our entrance is."

The school recently qualified for certification as wildlife-friendly habitat by the National and North Carolina Wildlife Federation (familiar to many eco-conscious homeowners through the "Backyard Wildlife Habitat" program) because it provides the four key elements endangered species need to survive: food, water, cover, and a place to raise their young. And what's good for wildlife conservation is also good for Buncombe County School District's budget: For example, the drought-tolerant butterfly bushes and other flowering shrubs Ambrose and volunteers planted along exposed walls last year now not only provide food for butterflies and hummingbirds, but also cut air-conditioning costs by sheltering the brick walls from direct sun during the summer months.

Other regional businesses are giving generously to Hominy Valley's "Day of Caring" event. Carolina Mulch Plus will donate a dumptruck-full of mulch -- over 20 cubic yards -- and Tennessee Stone is contributing $350, the equivalent of 3,000 lbs of decorative stone and delivery. Five Wells Fargo/Wachovia Bank employees were the first to sign up to provide labor. Vulcan Materials -- which owns a 389-acre stone quarry next to the school that is also a certified wildlife habitat -- has donated assorted stone Ambrose uses to create borders and features.

Volunteers are welcome to contact PTA member Denise Richards at (828) 230-4147. The event will last "as long as the supplies and people last," notes Ambrose. Hominy Valley Elementary School is at 450 Enka Lake Rd., Candler.

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