Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

 

First U’s members are active in a number of Environmental Stewardship programs, such as the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE), a nation-wide organization dedicated to connecting and inspiring an active community of UUs for environmental justice, spiritual renewal, and shared reverence for our Earth home.  Our UUMFE group meets on the second Sunday of each month at 12:30 pm in the Baker Room (Room 212) 

We are also home to a solar array that produces 91.2 kilowatts of energy, or about 80% of the power used by First U.  The solar array was installed in 2012 and also acts as a 38-space carport.  The slanted design of the array allows for maximum light collection, as well as the gathering of rainwater into two 500-gallon receptacles that we use to water our permaculture and community gardens.

You can read more about our solar array in on the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Green City Blue Lake blog.

In 2014, we received Cool Congregation certification from Interfaith Power and Light for reducing our carbon footprint by 30%

Since 2011, First U has been a UUA-accredited Green Sanctuary congregation, which means we have shown dedication to Environmental Justice and Sustainable Living.

 

Our Grounds and Gardens

There are two primary garden areas at First U.  Our Community Garden, located in the Southwest corner our property, is a well-established element of our congregation and its community. This garden was constructed to help form relationships among the varied community members, increase education of gardeners and community about organic, sustainable gardens, and create a sustainable garden.  The Community Garden contains 70 4×8-food beds utilized by gardeners with a wide variety of backgrounds and skills. By working together, and observing others, our gardeners are learning more and sharing helpful ideas with one another.

We operate a compost bin to feed the garden soil, and avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides. The use of compost, mulch, and other organic approaches pays long-term dividends. We appreciate the confidence in knowing that the vegetables and fruits we grow are safe to eat and the Earth is being fed by our efforts and not harmed.

Beds in the Community Garden can be rented for $15 per year.  This fee covers the cost of maintenance (fence repair, water hoses, and watering) and mulch.  Please contact the church (216 751 2320, or church@firstunitariancleveland.org) if you are interested in renting a plot with us.

 

 

In 2011, we dedicated our 5,400-square-foot Permaculture Garden. Permaculture gardening is the practice of building resilient gardens that encourage positive, productive relationships between microbes, plants, animal, insects, and humans.  As such, it is the ground-up, grassroots embodiment of the Unitarian Universalist concept of the Interdependent Web of Life.

Our Permaculture Garden was built by over 120 volunteer workers from our congregation, who completed a number of projects, including making “lasagna mulch” from multiple layers of compost, cardboard (to kill the grass before decomposing into soil enrichisoil-enrichingre compost, dead leaves, top soil and mulch to provide microbe-rich soil.  They laid gravel paths, installed stone seating walls and chess tables, erected arches, and built a children’s water maze.  The plants in the garden were selected for their hardiness and ability to fix nitrogen, accumulate phosphorous and other nutrients, and attract beneficial insects.