Volunteers help at park

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, April 27, 2017

Volunteers are working at Bennett’s Creek Park this week to reduce harmful run-off into the waterway.

Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, Keurig Green Mountain Inc. and American Rivers partnered to organize volunteers at Bennett’s Creek Park on Thursday. More than 40 volunteers worked to reduce stormwater run-off into the creek and to learn conservation practices.

“We’re providing educational and hands-on opportunities for the community to help the waterways,” NRPA president and chief executive officer Elizabeth Taraski said.

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Volunteers spread piles of mulch to help absorb storm water from the nearby parking lot. Four rain gardens were also prepared.

“We’re trying different techniques to slow the run-off in certain areas,” Suffolk Parks and Recreation department principal planner Michael Kelly said.

Taraski said native plants in the rain gardens will further absorb water.

“The root system of the plants go deep into the soil, and the rain water follows the roots into the ground,” she said.

Each garden has roughly 18-inch high ridges in the dirt called “berms.”

“They’re sort of like a speed bump for water,” Kelly said. “It’s a way of slowing the water down.”

This is the third year that Keurig Green Mountain Inc. has partnered with the NRPA. Thirty-six Windsor plant employees participated on Thursday as part of the company’s Community Action for Employees program, which allots 52 hours of paid time off annually strictly for volunteering.

“Finding volunteers is difficult, particularly in the daytime,” said Anne Williams, Keurig Green Mountain Inc. regional volunteerism program lead. “More and more people are working longer hours in life.”

Williams said 73 percent of the Windsor facility employees participated in community service in 2016, and 46 percent so far in 2017.

“I think it’s really special for our employees to see,” she said.

Taraski said these employees are learning more about positive environmental practices as volunteers.

“They’re learning practices they can do at home,” she said.

The gardening was a new experience for some of the employee volunteers.

“I never put flowers in the ground before,” Windsor facility volunteer Julie Butler said. “I really liked it.”

Employee volunteers will be at Bennett’s Creek Park on Saturday to continue moving mulch and planting. Others are excited to come back in the future and see how their handiwork looks.

“I will come back and do it again,” Windsor facility volunteer Annett Harrell said. “I’ll be back to see how this turned out.”