Trolley Tours Highlight Sustainability Efforts

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

July 11, 2024

Sisters took an afternoon trolley ride of the Nazareth grounds Monday to learn about ongoing sustainability projects on the campus. The tours, led by Carolyn Cromer, director of ecological sustainability for Nazareth, showcased areas such as the kitchen garden, Tree Walk, no-mow zones and more.

Here are some highlights of the tour:

Campus Garden

A visit to the Community and Kitchen Gardens showed Sisters where fresh produce is grown for the Nazareth kitchen. These gardens, which includes plots tended by the Grounds Department as well as Sisters, Village residents and others, promotes organic farming and self-sufficiency. Some of the produce being grown in the garden includes tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and blackberries. In addition to supplying fresh, locally-sourced produce for the kitchen, excess produce is also given to the local food pantry.

Bioswale and Native Plantings

One of the highlights of the tour is the bioswale, an innovative solution to stormwater management. This area features native plantings like shrubby St. John’s wort, Eastern bluestar, Fox sedge, slender mountain mint, and swamp rose hibiscus. These plants are selected for their ability to absorb and transpire stormwater runoff, helping to mitigate flooding and improve water quality on the grounds.

Composting System

The old tennis courts on campus have been repurposed into a composting system, turning organic waste into nutrient-rich soil. This system highlights the importance of recycling organic matter and reducing landfill waste, which is vital to Nazareth’s sustainability efforts.

No-Mow Zones

Along the forest edges, no-mow zones are growing native wildflowers, including milkweed. These areas provide critical habitats for pollinators like butterflies and bees, contributing to biodiversity and ecological health.

Native Flower Bed

Behind Crimmins Hall, a vibrant native flower bed showcases plants such as purple coneflower, spiderwort, chokeberry, butterfly milkweed, blazing star, false sunflower, and columbine. This diverse array of flora not only beautifies the landscape but also supports local wildlife and pollinators.

Tree Planting Initiative

Each fall, the grounds team plants around 40 trees, with 99% being native species. This initiative strengthens the local ecosystem, enhances air quality, and offers shade and beauty for future generations.

EQIP Field Challenges

A section of the EQIP field above Roadside Lake recently underwent spraying to control Johnson grass. Unfortunately, the treatment also impacted native plants. However, the west part of the field, which was not sprayed, shows more robust flower growth, highlighting the resilience and importance of native species in maintaining ecological balance.

Through these Sustainability Trolley Tours, the Sisters gain a better understanding of environmental conservation efforts at Nazareth, particularly in areas that may be more difficult to access for those with limited mobility. These tours not only educate but also inspire participation in the ongoing mission to care for God’s creation.


  1. Anne O'Shea

    So grateful for our Care for the Earth! Sisters and co- workers are so committed to respect the gifts that Nazareth provides to the planet!

  2. Debra Kehl

    What a wonderful Joy Ride along with the beautiful weather that day. So Blest is the community surrounded by the land, the love and the labor who tend to every part, every nook and cranny of The Holy Grounds. 🙏Debra 💕


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