The 72-acre Evergreen and East End Preservation Project aims to improve forest health, increase awareness to the cultural and historical significance of Evergreen and East End cemeteries, and create a safe, inviting place for the community. The project area comprises East End Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery, two adjacent historic African American burial grounds in the East End of Richmond, VA.
Evergreen Cemetery and East End Cemetery were founded in 1891 and 1897, respectively, by leaders of the African American community in Richmond. Together, the two cemeteries provide a resting place for over 25,000 individuals who contributed in important ways to the city’s – and the nation’s – vibrant social, political, intellectual, and religious life. Among those who rest there are such luminaries as Maggie L. Walker, John Mitchell, Jr., Dr. Sarah Garland Boyd Jones, and Rev. J. Andrew Bowler.
The properties straddle the border between the City of Richmond and Henrico County in Virginia. Neglected since the 1970’s, the property and gravesites have been overgrown with invasive plant species and hidden by illegally dumped trash. Beginning in the late 1990’s, volunteer efforts began chipping away at recovering both cemeteries, leading to the formation of volunteer groups at the two cemeteries.
After receiving offers to log the trees from the properties, the owners began discussions with the Enrichmond Foundation, a conservancy organization based in Richmond. Enrichmond is in the process of purchasing the properties and putting conservation easements on them to protect them as public lands in perpetuity. Provisions specifically protecting the trees are being added. Enrichmond hosts weekly volunteer cleanups at Evergreen Cemetery, organized public community input sessions, and formed the ExPRT (Executive Planning and Review Team) advisory board to guide the long-term restoration process. The ExPRT is made up of stakeholders such as descendant family members, long time volunteers, and representatives from African American historical and cultural institutions. In 2019, Evergreen Cemetery received a UNESCO designation as a site of memory associated with the Slave Route Project.
The properties are important natural and cultural assets of the community, state, and nation. The Carbon+ Credits generated from the project will provide long-term funding to support Enrichmond’s continuation of hosting volunteer events, maintenance, and rehabilitation efforts.