Responding to Earth’s cry
The Loretto Community Carbon Reduction Fund helps to re-green, decrease harm to Earth
If you get a cut or wound on your body, are you not going to care for it? Mother Earth has some wounds, too … that’s why we will care for her by planting trees.Norma Bajan, program director, Young Pioneers of Quetzal Fund
As Loretto responds to Earth’s cry, we look at how to increase our impact. Providing grants to others who are responding is one way we do so, and this often gives us the opportunity to stand in solidarity with those most affected by climate change.
In 2022, the Loretto Community Carbon Reduction Fund awarded grants to 16 projects. Planting trees in Haiti, building apiaries in Cleveland and installing solar panels in California — these are a few of the creative solutions funded. The fund invests in projects that bring about immediate improvement and effect wherever possible.
Established in 2019 to honor Anthony Mary Sartorius SL for her decades of planting trees at the Loretto Motherhouse in Kentucky, the fund provides grants for projects that sequester carbon, prevent carbon emissions or provide education about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Grants are available to organizations and individuals within Loretto or connected to Loretto.
The Young Pioneers of Quetzal Fund in Guatemala is a group of indigenous women who have been schooled at Maia Impacto, started by Connie Ning CoL and her husband Ted Ning. These empowered young women are pioneers in their Mayan families, often the first to complete high school and enter college.
Each girl commits to community service, a long tradition in Mayan communities. Additionally, they receive extensive training in ecology and what they call “caring for Mother Earth,” especially trees. Program director Norma Bajan tells them, “If you get a cut or wound on your body, are you not going to care for it? Mother Earth has some wounds, too (where we cut down so many trees for our cooking fires); that’s why we will care for her by planting trees.”
In August 2022 the Young Pioneers planted 200 tree species with the aim of maintaining the flora and fauna system. The trees were planted in different areas, including San Andrés in the Chutinaí village, identified because of forest destruction. Each Young Pioneer planted trees in her community.
In addition to planting trees, the Young Pioneers of Quetzal Fund provides education on the importance of protecting the environment and enhances young people’s connections with nature.
Watch a short video about the Quetzal Fund here.
Springhouse school staff member Sarah Merfeld partnered with Jarrah, a 15-year-old student, to plant trees on the school’s campus to offset the school’s carbon usage. The school, located in Floyd, Va., estimated that, on average, one tree will sequester one ton of carbon in 40 years, so they needed to plant 108 trees.
Sarah writes, “Often when you buy carbon credits to become carbon neutral, they fund a reforestation effort somewhere else. So why not just do it ourselves in our own place? Planting trees has other ecological benefits as well. Clear-cut logging is an environmental problem in our region. This practice leads to loss of biodiversity, destruction of wildlife habitat, soil erosion and more. So planting trees is a win-win!”
A Loretto Community Carbon Reduction Fund grant allowed the school to purchase 75 native saplings and materials. Two local elementary schools joined in on tree-planting day. The event became a rich learning opportunity as Jarrah explained the project to the younger students. The 15-year-old told the elementary school students who helped plant the trees, “Planting trees is a great way to practice thinking beyond yourself. Trees take a long time to grow and so we likely won’t enjoy them. Climate change will be a multigenerational issue, and we need to do what we can now and trust others will follow in our footsteps.”
Loretto hopes other schools will follow in Springhouse’s footsteps, teaching students about eco-responsibility. Planting trees is an action that helps Earth and serves life.
Planting trees is a great way to practice thinking beyond yourself. Trees take a long time to grow and so we likely won’t enjoy them.Jarrah, student at Springhouse, a school in Floyd, Va.
Climate change will be a multigenerational issue, and we need to do what we can now and trust others will follow in our footsteps.
Vel’s Purple Oasis Vegetable Garden and Community Teaching Kitchen is a community-based urban farm on an acre of land where Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood meets University Circle. Gardening began at the Oasis in April 2008 as a way to get members of the surrounding community involved with one another and to promote a healthy lifestyle through growing and eating high-quality produce. You can learn more about their work here.
Throughout the years, Oasis developed partnerships and served as an experimental site for growing vegetables and flowers. Funding from the Loretto Community Carbon Reduction Fund was used to purchase peach trees, blackberry canes, fig trees, appropriate soil amendments and mulch. This project both sequestered carbon and provided food to low-income residents of Cleveland, a positive result for Earth and community.
Grants of up to $1,000 are available for projects that will:
• Sequester or prevent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
• Provide education on carbon emissions or GHG reduction and prevention
• Secure infrastructure, equipment and support needed for the health of plantings (e.g., irrigation, fencing, tools.)
All donations go directly to grantees — organizations or individuals with a connection to Loretto.
To donate visit our Donate page and choose Carbon Reduction Fund from the drop-down menu.
To read all the articles in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Loretto Magazine, click here.