The Sacred Grounds program has ventured into a new body of holy water—the Delaware River Watershed in Wilmington, DE!  

Sacred Grounds is a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) program that engages diverse faith communities in building healthier habitats and neighborhoods by installing wildlife habitats on congregation grounds, and engaging the broader community in the process.

Three major takeaways of the program:

  1. Install a native plant garden that fits your space, needs, and desires (rain garden, pollinator garden, container garden)
  2. Engage your Congregation and beyond (speak from the pulpit, form a Green Team, host an educational workshop, garden volunteer opportunities, garden tour)
  3. Love thy garden (form a dedicated group of volunteers that will maintain the space)
planting at church
Ceremonial planting at Temple United to mark the beginning of this ambitious project Credit: Natalie Cohen/NWF

Over the next two years we’re working with our partners, Delaware Interfaith Power and Light (DeIPL), our State Affiliate Delaware Nature Society (DNS), and Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH), to help 20 congregations in Wilmington, Delaware become NWF designated Sacred Grounds sites. This project is funded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund.

Through this project, participating congregations will have the opportunity to apply for funding to install their own native plant garden on their grounds and engage their community.  Congregations will receive assistance from partners throughout the entirety of the garden installation ranging from technical assistance to educational workshops and garden tours.

We are weaving equity and justice throughout the entirety of this project by prioritizing congregations in frontline neighborhoods, those that experience the most immediate and worst impacts of climate change and are most often communities of color, Indigenous, and low-income (Ecotrust Frontline Communities).  Analyzing data such as urban tree canopy, access to green space, flooding rates, and socio-economic indicators are guiding our outreach and engagement.  

As a key partner in this project, Shweta Arya, Executive Director of DeIPL, says this: “With faith communities as the anchors, we have visions of cultivating beautiful, native wildlife habitats and connecting them to create wildlife corridors. With our partners, we’ll provide fun, educational opportunities as a means of community engagement, contributing to a sense of place, particularly for those who have been underserved and negatively impacted by environmental factors.” 

If you or someone you know is a member of a faith-based institution in Wilmington, DE, and are interested in learning more, please fill out this Interest Form and someone will be in touch!