The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will donate over $13,800 to Louisville Grows to offset the environmental costs of the society's 104th Annual Meeting. Louisville Grows is a non-profit with a mission to promote a just and sustainable community through urban agriculture, urban forestry, and environmental education in the meeting's host city of Louisville, Kentucky.
This year, more than 2,750 attendees convene in Louisville from across the globe to share the latest in ecological science. Earth stewardship is a high priority for ESA - many society members study the benefits that the natural world provides to human societies. The ESA conference strives to offset the environmental impact of the conference by contributing $5 for each meeting registrant to a local environmental organization whose mission supports conservation or sustainability. The meeting's theme, "Bridging communities and ecosystems: inclusion as an ecological imperative," makes Louisville Grows a natural choice to receive ESA's offset donation.
"Louisville Grows embodies the theme of the meeting," says Sarah Emery, professor and ecologist at the University of Louisville and the Local Host for this year's meeting. "They prioritize inclusion and diversity by helping establish community gardens in low-income and food-insecure areas of Louisville, including several refugee communities. Their urban forestry program directly addresses Louisville's declining urban tree canopy and increasing urban heat island, which disproportionately affects low-income neighborhoods."
Founded in 2009, Louisville Grows began as a network of community gardens, many of them in parts of the city where access to affordable, healthy food was limited. As their network grew, Louisville Grows' mission expanded to address not just the immediate need for fresh fruits and vegetables, but also the need for green spaces, safe community spaces, and educational programming on sustainably produced food and healthy eating.
"At Louisville Grows, our mission is to grow greener, healthier neighborhoods," says Louisville Grows Executive Director, Ked Stanfield. "With ESA's support, we'll be able to increase the work we do with Louisville's residents through building urban gardens and expanding our tree planting program."
In 2015, Louisville Grows helped establish the Hope Community Farm, a 5-acre urban organic farm where Louisville residents work alongside recent immigrants and refugees to produce fruits and vegetables for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. As one of the largest resettlement cities in the US, Louisville has taken in over 5,000 refugees since 2014. Working at Hope Community Farm provides newly-arrived immigrants a source of income and food and a sense of community.
Today, Louisville Grows manages ten community gardens throughout the city, including the People's Garden, a 5-acre plot of gardens, greenhouses, and community spaces in a predominantly African-American, historically under-served part of the city. Louisville Grows also promotes the creation of new gardens by offering grants and guidance through their Community Garden Toolkit and Garden Grant program, started in 2017.
Increasing Louisville's tree canopy is another goal. Trees improve air and water quality, mitigate runoff and flooding, reduce noise, and reduce summer energy costs by cooling homes, making them important to human health and urban and community infrastructure. In 2015, only 26% of Louisville land was covered by tree canopy, a number that was dropping fast with some areas losing over 20% in just an 8-year period. Increasing the urban tree canopy requires two elements: planting trees, and informed residents who can help care for them. Louisville Grows addresses both needs with its urban forestry program, identifying neighborhoods with low and declining canopy cover, building community support for new trees, supplying and planting trees, and training residents through its Citizen Forester program. Last year, they planted or gave away over 1,000 trees in areas that critically needed them.
By providing spaces where residents can grow food for themselves and for local markets, where children can learn and play in educational gardens, and where everyone can enjoy spending time outdoors together, Louisville Grows is helping to build a healthier, more integrated, and more sustainable community. It is a goal shared by ESA, which is pleased to support this year's meeting's host city with this offset donation.
"Louisville Grows works in exciting ways to make Louisville more sustainable," says Emery, "and I am happy that ESA is contributing to their important work."
2019 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky
Bridging Communities and Ecosystems: Inclusion as an Ecological Imperative
11-16 August 2019
Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on Louisville, Kentucky this August for the 104th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 3,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Kentucky International Convention Center, August 11-16, 2019.
In the spirit of collaboration, inclusion and cross-disciplinary science, the Ecological Society of America will be holding its 104th Annual Meeting in partnership with the United States Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE), one of many regional professional organizations within the umbrella society of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE).
The Opening Plenary features Karen Warkentin, professor in the Biology Department and the Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University, who will speak about, "All the variations matter: bridging disciplines and communities to study diversity in life history and sexual behavior." The event is free and open to the general public.
ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.
The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world's largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society's Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.