It is no secret that Tennessee’s diverse blend of rural and urban settings is a major reason why so many people call the Volunteer State home. But as development spreads and populations continue to grow, preserving the state’s natural wonders and maintaining the delicate balance that so many Tennesseans love has become more important than ever.
One organization working to do just that is The Land Trust for Tennessee. This statewide, nonprofit group has one simple mission: to preserve the unique character of Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes and sites for future generations.
Founded in 1999 by Jean C. Nelson and former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, The Land Trust for Tennessee has conserved more than 88,000 acres of land across the state to-date, generally by helping landowners protect their properties through a process called conservation easements. These easements allow individuals to keep ownership of their property, while also protecting the most important assets on those lands from future development.
You need not travel very far to see The Land Trust’s great work in action. Sitting a mere four miles from downtown Nashville is the group’s Glen Leven Farm, a 65-acre sanctuary that showcases a host of historical, natural and agricultural resources and provides a wonderful snapshot of the type of projects that define The Land Trust’s overall mission.
Volunteers play a crucial role in everything that happens at Glen Leven Farm. They assist staff with a host of daily tasks, from routine maintenance to gardening to providing support for those visiting on field trips and educational tours. But they are also the driving force behind some of the bigger initiatives at Glen Leven as well.
Recently, The Land Trust partnered with the Tennessee Division of Forestry’s Riparian Buffer program and SoundForest on a project to reforest approximately 3,500 linear feet of a stream running through the Glen Leven property. Over the course of five separate volunteer tree plantings, 139 individuals contributed more than 400 combined hours of their time to plant nearly 2,000 native trees, which will significantly improve the water quality of the creek by reducing soil erosion and regulating storm flow. The project was a rousing success, but it would not have been possible without volunteer help.
The Land Trust and Glen Leven Farm folks view their volunteers as more than just individuals who are willing to get a little dirty. Volunteers are also helping to further the overall mission of The Land Trust by fostering community engagement and spreading awareness about the importance of land conservation and sustainable agriculture.
Regular opportunities to volunteer may include maintenance of the educational garden and flower beds, invasive species removal, new plantings, sorting contents in historic structures, clearing debris from pastures, maintaining roadways and walkways, composting for and harvesting vegetables from the educational garden. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to learn about composting and how Glen Leven uses coffee grounds from Bongo Java.
Glen Leven offers regular volunteer opportunities every second Thursday evening of the month, and every third Saturday morning of the month.
If you have specific questions, please contact:
Katie O’Bryan, Facilities Manager and Volunteer Coordinator