Coffee company boosts river filter

Published 10:46 pm Friday, April 29, 2016

Keurig Green Mountain volunteers Ian Bichara and Johnny McFall plant a sapling at Bennett’s Creek Park.

Keurig Green Mountain volunteers Ian Bichara and Johnny McFall plant a sapling at Bennett’s Creek Park.

Keurig Green Mountain employees Johnny McFall and Ian Bichara spent Friday digging holes and planting 8-foot oak and maple saplings in Bennett’s Creek Park.

“This park is a special place,” said McFall, who proposed to his fiancé, Melissa, during a movie night at the North Suffolk park last summer. He had arranged to have the marriage proposal shown on the big screen while the couple was watching the movie.

“We like helping the park.”

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Seventy Keurig Green Mountain employees planted 175 native trees and bushes along or near the Bennett’s Creek Park shoreline this week, said Elizabeth Taraski, executive director of the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance. Volunteers worked four hours on Wednesday and Friday mornings on the ongoing NRPA project to build up a vegetation buffer to filter stormwater runoff and reduce erosion.

The trees — mostly oaks and maples — have deep root systems that will act as a natural filter, Taraski said. In shaded areas, volunteers planted azaleas and other shrubbery and spread mulch to help filter runoff into the creek.

Over the last two years, Keurig Green Mountain employees have donated roughly 500 hours of time to working in Bennett’s Creek Park, said Anne Williams, the company’s regional volunteerism lead.

Every Green Mountain employee gets 52 hours of paid time per year to volunteer in the community, she said.

“Every plant does a river restoration project once a year,” said Williams. The Bennett’s Creek Park project has been the Windsor plant’s largest volunteer initiative over the past two years, she said.

Working through American Rivers, a national nonprofit conservation organization, Keurig Green Mountain donated $2,700 to buy trees and shrubbery for this week’s plantings, Williams said.

Mike Kelly, a planner with Suffolk Parks and Recreation, estimated that Keurig volunteers have helped refurbish 1,000 feet of an estimated 7,000 feet of shoreline in the park.

Most of the shoreline buffer restoration probably wouldn’t have happened without donations of time and resources from organizations like NRPA and Keurig, Kelly said.

“This is a lot of manpower,” he said, gesturing toward the buzz of activity. “We probably couldn’t have done this without these partnerships.”