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Giving Back to Your Community

A Unique Approach to Urban Development

ASHTON, MD

by Kathleen Sheetz

Hundreds of employees covered this entire ball field with sod in 20 minutes flat-- on just one of several annual Field Days that enable landscape teams to hone their skills while giving back to their community. Photo provided courtesy of Ruppert Landscape Company.

Adding parks and recreational areas to newly planned and built communities and housing developments is a savvy amenity for real estate developers and Landscape Architects to offer. The luxury of greenspace, however, is rarely an option for many urban areas. For many inner-city youth, finding a place to have good, clean fun is not as simple as going to a nearby neighborhood park. Such places are few, and those that do not exist are often dilapidated or unsafe due to heavy use. Compounding this problem is the lack of grounds maintenance that those sites receive. City governments, often responsible for the maintenance, frequently lack the funds to properly care for their local parks and ball fields, or end up hiring the low bid landscape firm that often lacks the qualifications or manpower to handle a full-scale landscape design and management program.

One rather unique approach to creating urban neighborhood spaces is the concept of public/private partnering or corporate charitable giving. While introducing new greenspace into these areas is often impossible, it is feasible for one or more companies to work together to restore the existing spaces. For the past five years, Ruppert Landscape Company has performed major renovations on seven public parks in Washington, D.C. and in Atlanta, Georgia.

The day-long community service event, known as Field Day, is also the company's largest skills-training endeavor. Employees compete in a series of landscape contests, such as shrub planting, mower operation, tree pruning, sod laying, insect and disease identification, and more. Select clients and vendors join in the fun of this annual event by serving as contest judges. While the community hones its workers' field skills and increases employee morale, the community park receives a facelift-- a win-win situation.

Landscape Architects and contractors can have a positive effect within public/private partnerships-- and can affect change. Involvement between corporations, governmental agencies or community organizations unites talents, tools and materials and ultimately helps inner-city communities build recreational spaces, and more importantly, instill community pride.


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October 13, 2019, 6:54 pm PDT

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