TCUUC begins ambitious eco-sanctuary project

In cooperation with geographical neighbors, local environmentalists, master gardeners, and various community groups, the Treasure Coast Unitarian Universalist Church (TCUUC), 21 SE Central Parkway, Stuart, has plans to create a unique eco-sanctuary. Behind the newly constructed sanctuary, 1.5 acres of relatively undeveloped land will be transformed into habitat for wildlife, bird feeding and nesting stations, playing fields for after school recreation, rain gardens with butterfly and herbal themes, walking paths, and an outdoor performance area/classroom space for special events. Complete restoration of the grounds is expected to take a few years.

It is hoped that the eco-sanctuary will become a living laboratory for education, outreach and increased awareness of excellence in environmental stewardship. A key component of the project is the involvement of neighbors in the planning and implementation of the project. Discussions are underway between TCUUC, Bridges Montessori School, Advocates for the Rights of the Challenged (ARC), Martin County, and StarStruck Academy and Children’s Theatre to determine how best to integrate use of the eco-sanctuary into existing programs, curricula, and special events.

The eco-sanctuary project merges UU principles with environmental action and specifically manifests the UU seventh principle; i.e., “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” The project is an outgrowth of the Green Sanctuary movement and the church is also seeking certification as a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP). Mary Jo Geyer, project manager, and the TCUUC “Green Team” have been working diligently for the past 9 months to create a master plan for the project and to complete the application for ACSP certification. ACSP certification is the highest recognition that an organization can achieve for excellence in environmental management. There are only 1,000 certified ASCP members worldwide with six (6) in Florida including Walt Disney World, University of Florida and Hobe Sound Elementary School.

Ground breaking on Phase 1 of the project is expected to take place the week of May 8th when Jim Sullivan, American Landscaping, our partner in developing the eco-sanctuary will begin excavation and grading of the performance area and the first rain garden. Jim Henderson, a long-time member (deceased 4-16- 17) donated the funding for Phase 1 of the project in memory of his beloved wife, Joan. Thus, the performance area and butterfly rain garden will be dedicated as the Joan Henderson Center for Arts & Nature.

Members of the community are invited to observe the transformation of the grounds and to learn more about excellence in environmental management. The project includes an outreach and educational component and progress may be monitored via the church’s website, or our Facebook page. Contacts: Green Team Leader and Project Manager: Mary Jo Geyer, Church President: David Gray, Church Administrator: Caitlynne Palmieri,, 772 223 5020