Determination from volunteers saved Denver’s oldest cemetery. When Riverside Cemetery opened in 1876 it was missing two key elements to ensure it would be looked after, an endowment and a written agreement on water rights. Years later an endowment was established but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the rate of inflation. The funds did not cover the cost of irrigation and the vegetation on the grounds lost life.
In 2000, the endowment couldn’t generate enough income, the historic cemetery was losing over a half a million dollars a year, which meant resources to irrigate the land were dried up. Thirsty to help, gracious volunteers took the initiative to pump life back in. The “Riverside Revival” began.
In 2008 a program called “adopt a block” emerged with incredible success. Volunteers can claim a plot of land to care for; Boy Scouts, neighborhood and church groups work diligently to restore the area. They do everything from hand watering, weeding and planting. The Colorado Association of Lawn Care Professionals came in to develop a sustainable landscape plan.
By using the right plant the right way grounds can be maintained with a significantly reduced cost. Right now, Riverside is planting Blue Grama/Buffalo grass on plots because it is native to Colorado and will be able to hold up year around.
More color splashed the cemetery with the removal of dead trees and the addition of new ones. The dead trees were given a second life as art, furniture and mulch on the grounds. 30,0
00 tulips were also donated, as well as three water tanks to be used as an irrigation system.
The hard work has created success. Twenty percent of the Riverside Revitalization is complete in just three years. The future of Riverside is looking bright once again.
If you are looking for a fulfilling volunteer opportunity please visit: fairmontheritagefoundation.org