Fortunately for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Louise Eastman has no trouble saying "no."
Yet, she readily admits, she could never turn down Habitat on anything, "because they are just such a fabulous organization. Habitat's philosophy and mine are a perfect fit." Hence, since 2004, Eastman, a Master Gardener, has been volunteering her time and talent to design and coordinate landscaping for Habitat homes. She also has been instrumental in the introduction of "greenscape" as Habitat moves toward building all LEED-certified homes in the future. (Habitat for Humanity of Kent County was nationally recognized by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for completing the nation's first LEED for Homes Certified 'Affordable Home' in 2006.)
Eastman's greenscape designs include native plants which have acclimatized to local conditions, as well as drought-resistant grasses, rain barrels to collect water run off, and even a rain garden. In addition to adding the "finishing touches" to a Habitat home, Eastman enjoys the opportunity to meet homebuyers and talk with them about their individual preferences and available time to maintain the landscape. "One homebuyer loves to garden and grow vegetables and herbs. We incorporated this into her plan as well as a 'stock garden' with native groundcovers that multiply. In the future, we can take transplants from this garden to use at other homes. It is so exciting - Habitat is taking sustainability to a new level."
And on a personal note, Habitat has helped Eastman advance to a new level too. "Because of my experiences with Habitat, I've decided to pursue an advanced Master Gardener certification in garden design through Michigan State University this fall. Then my plans will really be fabulous!"
--we think they already are, Louise!