January 2022

GeoGarden Goes Green

Take a stroll with us through the DeLoach GeoGarden at UNCW, an award-winning outdoor teaching area for the study of geology, geography, stormwater management and native plants. Roger Shew of the Geology Department (right) was instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.

In October 2021 UNCW was one of 40 institutions honored nationwide for their commitment to sustainable facilities, health and classroom practices with the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award.

This award is designed to highlight institutions that employ practices that other schools could adopt. Roger intends for the GeoGarden to touch the imagination of UNCW students, seniors and children in the Cape Fear community.

A former UNCW student, Roger grew up in the area and has been teaching at UNCW for over twenty years. He is now a Senior Lecturer in Geology and Environmental Science. Teaching and working with the community have been my dream jobs, says Roger. This project is one way to give back to the University.

Roger designed and funded the project to include a classroom seating area, fossil pit, streambed and raingarden. The geological samples along the walkway showcase the diversity of stone from the NC Mountains to the Sea through ten different “stations”. He handpicked boulders from Spruce Pine quarry in the West to Castle Hayne quarry on the coast.

The flagstone patio and drystack walls highlight material sourced from the Asheville mountains, selected at Stone Garden, then installed by local mason Don Hartsell of Carolina Solid Rock Masonry.

The Fossil Pit contains a cubic yard of treasures from the Aurora Phosphate Mine including whale vertebrae, coral, shells and large shark teeth.

Students, young and old, can dig for fossils dating back millions of years.

Roger and his wife placed river stones to create a 70-foot long dry creek bed that diverts runoff. Since the campus is the largest land owner in the Bradley Creek Watershed the goal is to manage their own stormwater.

The rocky, meandering streambed flows to a raingarden with native plants, replicating a Carolina Bay The stormwater collection prevents overflow, up to 3 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.at.

Congratulations to UNCW for the recognition of their sustainability efforts. Visit the UNCW campus and see for yourself.