By Jessica Ballard
Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program

At the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, trees are important to us.  With the support of KU/LGE’s Plant for the Planet Program we have been able to plant over 100 native, fruit and nut trees on our property over the last two years.  We have established our edible forest project, using restoration agriculture and permaculture principles.  We have also developed our very own “micro-forest” consisting of over 50 species of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

This has truly been a community supported effort in many ways. We are so thankful to KU for supporting our ongoing tree planting efforts at BDVP.  We would also like to extend a huge thank you to the Kentucky Division of Forestry who helped develop our site plans and provided installation support on these projects.  Peter Barber, of the Division of Forestry, has been instrumental in providing his own expertise and technical support for our program.  Thank, Pete! A number of service organizations, local arborists, clients, staff, community volunteers, students and garden clubs also have contributed to the development and maintenance of our micro-forest.  Recently The Wild Ones, a native plant group out of Lexington, hosted a workshop on pruning young trees.  Sara and Jesse Hesley, owners of Town Branch Tree Experts, facilitated the workshop and volunteers worked together to prune trees in the micro-forest and around our facility.  Participants learned various techniques for pruning and maintaining young trees from experienced arborists while helping prune our micro-forest.  What a lovely time!

Grow Appalachia’s support of our farming efforts really has helped us engage and leverage support for projects like these!

When I look up on the hill at the native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, I remember that less than two years ago there was only a grassy field.  I am amazed at what a community of supportive individuals committed to earth stewardship can accomplish together, to reclaim a bit of earth, to re-forest.  This project will continue to require work and dedication in the coming years, but I feel confident that we will continue to come together to care for this special space and our micro-forest will one day provide a place of shade, healing and solace for anyone who is seeking this. Thanks to all who have been and will be making this vision a reality!