by Jeremy Petrusma (Environmental Educator)
During the month of August we spent ten days with tenants and volunteers from Indwell to create new “eco-gardens” at Strathearne Suites and Rudy Hulst Commons. Working alongside tenants, we established native pollinator gardens, installed a pond, built bee boxes and bird boxes, and benches for the gardens to be enjoyed. The purpose of this project was to establish healthy pockets of natural space for birds, mammals, insects and people alike to enjoy.
This project was more than landscaping. We we’re building relationships with the participants and empowering new ecological stewards. Stewarding these eco-gardens required some knowledge and responsibility from the residents, so each day consisted of implementation and teaching around some component of the garden (water and soil, plants, insects and birds). This combination of teaching and hands-on activity cultivated a sense of excitement and ownership for this project. A Rocha provided the platform for learning and helped establish the gardens, but now these Indwell tenants and volunteers are equipped and eager steward their eco-gardens.
Perhaps there is no better example of an eager steward than “Shelly”. Shelly already had some experience gardening, but showed up every week to continue learning! Shelly is committed to stewarding the new eco-gardens, and they are in turn an outlet for Shelly as something she loves to do. Her passion was clear: she watered the plants every morning, weeded, made sure that the gardens were kept clean and asked our advice on all important details each week.
Shelly’s friend “Carol” also came regularly and really enjoyed our time together. She wasn’t as interested in learning facts but was very appreciative of the gardens. She would constantly say “Wow, look how beautiful this place is. Thanks so much for doing this guys!” By the end, even those who weren’t as interested joined in, helping build the bee boxes that now hang near the pollinator gardens.
In these moments of engagement – some consistent and some brief — we were able to see each person grow in their connection with the natural world right in the city. Our hope and prayer is that these transformed spaces will not only contribute to ecological health, but also the health of people as they make deeper connections with their place.
Scroll through the pictures to see the transformation!