Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill church spreads word about Florida-friendly landscaping

SPRING HILL — Thanks to a grant from the Coastal Rivers Basin Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church has been giving its campus a landscaping makeover.

The church will host two workshops to show other faith-based communities how they can help make their campuses, or individual yards at home, environmentally friendly.

The $4,560 community education grant, called the Florida-Friendly Landscaping for Faith-Based Communities in Spring Hill, enables the Rev. Shanda Mahurin to advance a project she has been working on since she came to St. Andrew's as its pastor five years ago: getting her congregation to "go green."

"By and large, the congregation certainly understands that we need to protect our environment," Mahurin said. "We need not to contribute to landfills and chemicals that get in our waterways and kill fish and pollute and get back into our water system and hurt us."

For Mahurin, going green is spiritual.

"I believe very strongly that the stewardship of God's creation ought to be something that the church leads in," she said. "It troubles me when those who are called to be witnesses for God in the world aren't taking care of creation or are not being good examples."

The first step Mahurin took was creating a group within her church called Friends of Creation United in Stewardship that would support environmental responsibility.

"We began to recycle everything," Mahurin said, "so everything on our campus from cardboard, glass, plastic, office paper, newspapers, ink cartridges — anything that can be recycled — is recycled. Then the next step was to not purchase things that are disposable when we can use our own dishes, especially not Styrofoam."

The church became smoke-free, and Mahurin began giving "stewardship of creation" tips and advice in the church's monthly newsletter.

But there were not enough funds available to accomplish all that she and the FOCUS group hoped to do.

Then Mahurin learned about the grants from Swiftmud. With the help of Frank Trama and other church members, Mahurin wrote the request for the grant that would make possible the transition to what Swiftmud calls a Florida-friendly yard.

"It's exciting to see it actually come to pass," Mahurin said. "I've wanted to reduce the use of water, the use of pesticides and make our campus — which is a beautiful Old Florida campus with Spanish moss and live oak trees — something that is beautiful and, theologically speaking, gives glory to God. Now because of the grant, we've been able to move a lot more quickly with it."

In the process, Mahurin is happy to support Swiftmud's desire to have people implement Florida-friendly landscaping and use less water.

Using $2,000 of its own money, the church purchased Florida-friendly plants and planted them in its entry area and between the church and parish hall.

"The exciting thing is that we've had two big workdays with the church parishioners," Mahurin said. "We have a largely aging congregation, but we had a great turnout. We've removed plants that were not Florida-friendly and put in Florida-friendly plants. It's been completely transformed."

With the grant money, the church has been able to purchase mulch and river rock, remove non-Florida-friendly trees and retrofit its irrigation system to save water.

It will also pay for two workshops, and followup surveys, that will educate other faith-based organizations about Florida-friendly landscaping.

"We're ordering the signage so when people come for the workshops or visit our campus, they can see the plants labeled and know that is a Florida-friendly plant," Mahurin said. "So it's a demonstration campus.

"This is Phase One for us," the pastor added. "We are trying to transform the entire 7-acre campus, and that's going to take a while."

St. Andrew's recently sent a letter to other religious groups to invite them to the workshops.

The workshops, offered from 6 to 8 p.m. May 4 and from 2 to 4 p.m. May 20, are identical, but the second one will offer an optional hour before it begins for clergy to talk about how stewardship of creation relates to faith and to share ideas about its importance.

On the grant, the church stated that it hopes to reach 700 people with the conservation information. Mahurin hopes at least 25 or 30 congregations will respond by sending people to the workshops.

"A sizable chunk of land in Hernando County will begin to be transformed. That will be a real witness to the rest of the community to get on board and will have a ripple effect," she said. "The hope beyond that is that people who attend these places of worship will do this in their own homes."

Fast facts

If you go

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill, is offering two free workshops on Florida-friendly landscaping, from 6 to 8 p.m. May 4 and from 2 to 4 p.m. May 20. The instructor will be John Korycki, the local Florida Yards and Neighborhoods coordinator. Space is limited; call the Rev. Shanda Mahurin or Mary Anne Harris to register at (352) 683-2010. For information on Florida-friendly landscaping, visit

Spring Hill church spreads word about Florida-friendly landscaping 04/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse


    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]
  2. Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30


    WASHINGTON — The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Donald Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

    Secret service agents walk with President Donald Trump after a ceremony to welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions the Clemson Tigers on the South Lawn of the White House on June 12, 2017. [Olivier Douliery | Sipa USA via TNS]
  3. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  4. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge


    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    His attorney said Jason Jerome Springer, 39, just talked, and there was “no true threat.”

  5. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments


    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.