HEARTLAND CONSERVATION ALLIANCE, BLUE RIVER WATERSHED

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Christina’s collaboration with the Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) began in the organizational formation conversations for KC Native Plant Initiative. This young environmental conservation non-profit runs programs that connect people to nature and environmental restoration processes. In 2018, HCA contracted Hoxie Collective to provide technical assistance to the first four Vacant to Vibrant grantees from the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). This program utilizes informational resources created by the Green Spaces and Urban Farms Action Group, inspired by the Detroit Future Cities Working with Lots Guide. The Vacant to Vibrant Guide and Templates provide planning and design guidance for a variety of uses on vacant lots that provide environmental and community benefits. Each of the first four grantees put their funds to use in different ways. One created a food forest in a well-established community garden conservancy. Another created pollinator gardens that are a part of her K-12 educational programming. A third team cleared and prepared a lot for local youth to plant an orchard and rain garden. And finally, the fourth grantee beautified her lot to be used as a community gathering place.

 

In 2019, Hoxie Collective is working with HCA and Molly Gosnell (Midwest Geoinfo) to create a vacant land acquisition and management strategy. The first part of this process is to map:

  • Watersheds

  • HCA Action Areas

  • HCA Projects and Partners

  • Floodplain

  • Neighborhoods

  • Diabetes and Asthma

  • Forest Patches and Interior Habitat

  • Vacant Land (with scoring criteria)

 

The scoring criteria for the vacant land were developed in collaboration with Mid-America Regional Council. The criteria include:

  • Floodplain 0-2

  • Ecological value 0-7

  • Farmland soils 0-1

  • Land Bank 0-1

  • Food deserts 0-1

  • Poverty 0-3 (block group % below)

  • Park deserts 0-1 (.5 mile buffer)

  • Slope 0-3

  • Proximity to stream 0-3

 

The higher the score, the more sensitive the needs on the parcel and in the surrounding community. Facilitated focus group conversations will provide feedback on the mapping tool for use in decision-making, as well as appropriate conservation strategies, programs, and projects in each neighborhood and industrial district. These conversations will also inform HCA’s short term, mid-term and long term priorities for acquisition, restoration and conservation in the watershed.

PROJECT DATA

Location

Greater Kansas City Region

Year

2018 - 2019

Client

Jill Erickson

Executive Director

Heartland Conservation Alliance

jill@heartlandconservationalliance.org 

816.813.0944

Additional Project Information

2019 work funded by Health Forward Foundation Grant

SELECT UNI VACANT TO VIBRANT PROGRAM GRANTEES, 2018

Next Steps

  • Continue to plant food forest system around the sapling trees

  • Build a walking trail around the perimeter of the Manheim Park Garden Conservancy land

  • Measure the amount of food grown and number of people fed

  • Create and market educational programs on growing food and creature habitat

Recommendations

  • The Guidebook is best used during the application process rather than implementation.

  • Share specific information on processes learned such as: permaculture systems, soil cultivation, water harvesting, and community participation as well as commitment of hours and resources to create realistic expectations and increasingly successful projects throughout Kansas City.

Next Steps

  • Leverage funding to purchase fruit trees along south and west fences

  • Leverage funding to plant pollinator and rain gardens (have been designed) on north side of lot

  • Continue to provide education and maintenance support to neighbors

Recommendations

  • Identify partners in advance of grant cycle to leverage funding to complete high quality, sustainable projects.

  • Partner with existing neighborhood agencies delivering similar programming and support in order to accomplish more together.

  • Provide detailed information on cost, time, professional labor and service to give a better understanding of implementation.

  • Provide a vetted list of experienced contractors and material suppliers.

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